Shiogama shrine is the oldest shrine in Miyagi. It has been around for about 1200 years. A lot of people come here to have their new born blessed and also became a protector of fisherman. The first time I went here I had tea ceremony with the Mori group (group of Japanese ladies who takes care of new foreign students) and my fellow MEXT scholars. It was the perfect setting having a tea enjoying the Japanese zen garden. The first we came though we climb a lot of stairs just to go to the shrine, but this time since we have an official guide to tour us around we took the short road.
The minute we arrived in the main shrine we saw some notices regarding pokemon go. It was actually very funny because the whole shrine has so many pokestops! So no hunting of pokemon for us during that time!
Now back to regular programming. Do you ever wonder why there are so many wash area in the entrance of the shrine? This is because people need to cleanse themselves by washing their hands and mouth since the place is sacred. After cleansing we enjoyed a long nice peaceful walk. This shrine has to be one of the shrines with a stunning landscapes. The garden is overlooking Matsushima so it seems like you are both enjoying laidback scene and a metropolitan life.
Going around the shrine will take about more than 1 hour just to enjoy the buildings. All buildings were designed intricately and the architecture keeps on getting better as you go from one building to another. Aside from the building there are also lanterns and dragon guardian statue adorning the pathway leading to each building. Aside from the infrastructure the zen garden is a must see plus there are so many sakura trees so I think I should mark this in my spring calendar since it is only about 30 minutes from Sendai. I never paid too much attention before about the trees and I have already been in Sendai for 2 years and a half and I did not know that this places is one of the best spot for sakura viewing!
There are two worship halls in the shrine. I always make it a point to pray and ring the bells whenever I go to a shrine. Here is how to do it properly (I mean this is how we were taught in one of my ASJA trip in Kyoto). First you need to throw a coin (the amount does not matter but they said coins with a hole in the middle is luckier thus I always use 50 yen coins). Then ring the bells as loud as you can (I tried to but the bell is really heavy! I wanted it to be loud so that the Gods can hear my prayers). Take a two low bows (maybe around 90 degrees). Make a wish from the heart. Clap twice and make one more low bow to end it. I hope all my wishes will come true! But of course you can’t just wait for it to happen you have to work hard for it.