Alas, Golden Week is over and it's back to the grind for me. Golden Week is a string of holidays (Children's Day, the Showa Emperor's Birthday, Greenery Day, and Constitution Memorial Day) at the end of April/beginning of May which usually closely coincide with one another to create a week of well-deserved vacation time for many Japanese. For me, I didn't have a solid week off, but had 2 3-day mini vacations and a normal Sat-Sun weekend.
My first 3 days was spent exploring Shikoku, 1 of the 4 main islands of Japan.
Mister Fugu was excited to cross the bridges over to Shikoku.
In 2 days, I visited all 4 prefectures of Shikoku. First, in Ehime prefecture, my goal was to buy some delicious souvenirs I had seen in a travel guide. I specifically wanted some orange daifuku, which were small oranges encapsulated in a sticky, delicious rice dough. The sweet shop featured in the guide ended up being a small one, tucked away in a small neighborhood. The daifuku were good, but unexpectedly expensive! They were around $3-4 for one, so I definitely couldn't give them out as souvenirs to all my teacher coworkers.
Next was Kochi, the prefecture I was most looking forward to seeing. It's the home of Ryoma Sakamoto, one of the men who helped to abolish the feudal shogunate system and recent popular subject of a tv drama. There's a museum and monument dedicated to him on the lovely coast of Kochi.
Statue of Ryoma Sakamoto at Hatsurahama Beach.
Next was Tokushima prefecture, where I enjoyed nice views on the top of Mt. Bizan and delicious ramen.
It was worth the trip for good ramen.
Finally, I saw Kagawa prefecture, which is home to a lovely park called Ritsurin Park.
Picturesque view from a hill of the traditional Japanese gardens.
I loved the pattern of these trees.
Part 2 of my Golden week was spent in Sanin, the northern region of Yamaguchi, Tottori and Shimane prefectures. In Tottori, a big attraction is the sand dunes.
Ludington (Mi) isn't the only place with nice sand dunes.
It was quite crowded. A fun attraction is a chance to ride around on the dunes.
Camels in Japan... who would've thought it?
Next on the tour was Shimane prefecture. First stop was Izumi-Taisha shrine, a popular spot because it houses Japan's largest shimenawa, which is straw weaved together into a rope and is a sacred symbol. According to Wiki, the shimenawa there weighs 5 tons and is 13.5 meters long.
People throw coins into the shimenawa, hoping they stick. I'm guessing this is a good luck ritual.
Last on the tour is Matsue, which has a nice castle worth viewing.
A nice boat ride on the river moat area that surrounds the castle finished off the day.
My Golden Week was busy and great, plus I outdid all my Japanese coworkers in travel.