Shrines may not be the most exciting places to visit.
But to me, these sites are filled with history, culture — and often some really interesting food along the way.
The last time I was in Fukuoka, we make the trek to Dazaifu Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine built over the grave of Michizane Sugawara and dedicated to the god of learning and calligraphy. Millions of students every year come here from all over Japan to pray for good luck on upcoming entrance exams.
I remembered the long road — called Tenjinsama-dori — that led to the shrine, lined with boutiques and little shops selling a kind of mochi only found here. I remembered the statues of oxen that littered the grounds. And I remembered how nice it was to get out of the bustling city for a bit and walk among plum trees — there are about 6,000 of them in 197 different varieties — and reflect on benches near the pristine ponds.
I didn’t need to pray for entrance exams — thank GOD! — and I wasn’t looking for any spiritual solace.
I just wanted to relax and eat.
Isn’t that what a vacation is all about anyway?
Follow my #CatTravel adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish and Instagram @catherinetoth.