Heading east from Osaka, we traveled to the city of Ise. While relatively unknown outside Japan, it is the location of the major shrines of the indigenous religion of Shinto. The main temple dedicated to the Sun Goddess is here and the Emperor of Japan is believed to be a descendent. Due to its importance it also houses one of the Imperial Regalia, similar to the crown jewels of Britain. Shinto architecture is simple and all of the temples had tall fences built around them. This was one of the few areas that I did not see many fellow foreign tourists. One of the basic tenets of the Shinto religion is cleanliness and this pertains even to the buildings which are rebuilt every few decades. This meant that about a quarter of the buildings were surrounded by scaffolding and could not be seen. Also pictures of the larger shrines is prohibited, although not with signs but some of the priests scolding you if you try.
In the afternoon we went to the Edo Wonderland Ise Azuchi-Momoyama Bunkamura theme park. Here they recreate a town in the 16th century and have a host of carnival games and shows including a ninja demonstration and haunted houses. These were entertaining, albeit a bit rundown.
As for afternoon snacks, I had fried chicken skin with a teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds and wasabi soft serve. The chicken skin was served cold unfortunately but was still nice and crispy. They gave you a toothpick to use but they mostly just broke when you tried to stab into the skin. As for the wasabi soft serve it was not what I was expecting. Instead of it mixed into the soft serve like other flavors, it was young shoots of wasabi that was grated and then frozen into a granita. While I was waiting for it to thaw, the soft serve was melting but once I was able to start mixing the flavors it was pretty good. The wasabi would be to much on its own but since it was from younger plants and mixed with dairy you really only got the flavor and not the burn. Most of the time at least.
For dinner we had some local specialties. Ise noodles are thick, flour noodles in a thick soy and fish sauce. This is topped with green onions, chili powder and tempura bits. The flavors were simple but intense, with the thick noodles giving it a chewy texture and made the overall dish filling. The second dish was the local tuna, dabbed with soy sauce and served atop rice. The fish itself had a deep red color and melted on your tongue.