Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Day in Nagato

Nagato is one of my favorite places in Yamaguchi Prefecture! It is about 2.5 hours away from Iwakuni by car, which makes it a great day trip destination.

There are more than just a few reasons to visit Nagato, but the most famous of all now is probably the Motonosumi-inari Shrine. This shrine by the sea has 123 red Torii gates you can walk through as you enjoy beautiful views of the ocean.

The colors are stunning when it's a beautiful day, and in the summer months it's even more spectacular because everything is so green!

After you finish walking around and enjoying the wonderful views, be sure to try your hand at getting some money into the offer box at the top of the Torii gate located right across from the parking lot. I usually use whatever I have in my wallet, besides a one yen coin (too light).....and it usually takes me a few tries. Okay, it may have taken me 6 or more tries my very first time. I wouldn't have felt so down about it if the guy before me didn't get it in there on his first try! Really?! Having an audience didn't help matters much either (so much pressure!), but I did finally make it and my audience actually cheered for me!

They do have parking right across the entrance. The first couple of times I went there were hardly any other cars in the lot, but when I went a couple of weeks ago the parking was completely full. Luckily someone started to leave right as I was trying to figure out what to do. Also, the road leading to the shrine can get pretty narrow in some spots. There was a tour bus there a couple of weeks ago so it's not crazy narrow, but I am really glad I didn't run into that bus on my way there or on my way out.
This shrine is not stroller friendly as there are steps walking down through the Torii gates.

Another place to check out in Nagato is Senjojiki, which means one thousand tatami mats. I believe that is to describe how large of a space it is, and it's pretty large. I would say more than a thousand tatami mats large, but I do like the name. The views from here are pretty amazing! There is also plenty of space to throw down a blanket and have a nice picnic lunch or just relax for a little bit. I saw a few benches around the area too so there were definitely plenty of places to have a seat and take it all in.
Senjojiki is not too far from the Motonosumi-inari Shrine and it has a good amount of parking.

Be sure to explore the area and enjoy the views!

If you like boat tours, there is one in Nagato that goes around Omijima. There are different tours to choose from, but the one that goes all the way around Omijima can get canceled depending on how rough the waters are. The day I went, the waters were too rough for the full tour so I just did the short tour. It was still very beautiful and the rock formations were really neat too.

I don't recommend sitting at the very front of the boat. The views are not so great and when we hit a rough patch, I'm pretty sure the front of the boat got the worst of it. They do have an area in the back where you can go out to enjoy the views and take pictures.

There are some other really great places to explore in Nagato, and I hope this helps you plan your own day trip to explore the other side of Yamaguchi Prefecture!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Susa Hornfels

I have been trying to get to the Susa Hornfels for a few years now. Every time I planned to go, it just didn't work out. So, of course, the one time I don't plan on going is when I finally make it there!

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way home from a whirlwind day trip to Nagato, Omijima, and Hagi when I saw the sign for Susa. It was still kind of early and when I typed the Hornfels into Google Maps it showed that we would get there in about 20 minutes. So, I told my friends we were going to take a little side trip on the way home and started driving towards Susa. Well, I did a happy dance and jumped around for a few minutes before I got back in the van. I may have even squealed with joy while I was jumping around. At any rate, I was pretty excited!

About 20 minutes later I hear, "You have arrived at your destination." Um. Nope. I'm pretty sure the thing on my right is a train station and on my left are some buildings.... What the heck Google Maps?! I was a little bit sad because I thought I was going to have to see it some other time. I kept on driving straight so I could find a place to pull over and figure out the quickest way to get home, and then I saw a sign that said "Susa Hornfels" in English!! I followed the signs and I found it!

I couldn't wait to get down there and see it up close! I think the walk down was less than 10 minutes, but when I got to the end of the path I realized the real fun was about to begin. The rest of the walk down was definitely a little scary for me. It's rugged and slanted and I kept thinking I was going to slip (parts of it were wet). Then I saw a couple coming back up and the girl had HEELS on. Ahhhh....It's official. I'm a wuss. I will say that she was walking very slowly and very carefully, but still. I did not have heels on and I think she was walking faster than me.

I did manage to make it to the bottom without slipping! I would have done a happy dance, but it was very uneven and I wasn't going to push my luck.

It was so beautiful! The different layers of colors were just so amazing to me. I couldn't stop staring at it. It was like a large piece of artwork.

There was another path that went to the left when we started walking from the car to the path leading down to the Hornfels. I really wanted to go check it out, but I ran out of time. I guess that means I have to go back, right??

I highly recommend adding this beautiful place to your itinerary when you head to Hagi. It ended up being about 30 minutes from Hagi and then it took us a few hours to get home from the Hornfels. We didn't take the expressway at all on the way back.