The walking tour of Ashikaga showed us even more of the city’s fascinating features. First, we took a short hike up to the “boys’ shrine” and the “girls’ shrine”, where the first week of May every year the locals take their infants and write their names, along with “wishes” for them. I believe the most common of these “wishes” are for good health for their children. Both the shrines and the views from them were incredibly beautiful!
Next, we visited the Ashikaga history museum, which featured a lot of awesome miniatures of what the city had looked like at points throughout its history, which was probably my favorite part of the museum. I also learned that Ashikaga’s original industry was focused around textiles, which I thought were gorgeous!
After the museum we stopped for lunch where I had my first true Japanese ramen experience. I was surprised to find that the ramen here is even saltier than the instant ramen back home in the States! It was still delicious, and I can’t wait to try more varieties while I’m here.
From lunch, we headed to the Ashikaga Textile museum, where I got to see even more of those gorgeous fabrics I had mentioned before. It is so impressive to know that such complex fabrics were done on looms by hand before machines came around. The amount of time, effort, and attention to detail these fabrics must have taken to create I truly astounding!
Finally, we went to a Buddhist temple, where we met the priest who tends to the grounds and the adjacent cemetery. He and his wife were incredibly welcoming, and he showed the most beautiful print of “Buddha’s death” (which I learned is very important in Buddhism, as he then ascended to Nirvana). He and his wife even sat down and had tea with us, where we got to meet their cute little dog “Hime”, which is Japanese for “princess”, and she was most certainly treated like a little princess! I could tell the priest and his wife doted on the precious little dog. Once again, I was incredibly impressed by the amazing graciousness and hospitality of our hosts! This aspect of Japanese culture will never cease to amaze me!