The main reason we decided to head to Ube for a day trip was to see the Japanese wind chimes at Kotozaki-hachimangu Shrine . Furin, Japanese wind chimes, are known as the sound of summer. Many Japanese people enjoy hearing the soothing sound the chimes make while blowing in the wind. It is even said that the sound can induce a feeling of coolness on hot summer days. Furin chimes have a significant historical meaning to the Japanese in which they are thought to ward off evil and epidemics. Fitting huh? During the summer months there are wind chime festivals in some places in Japan.
The wind chimes are currently on display at the shrine until September 6th. From August 1st to the 15th there will be a ring called a chinowa at the entrance. There is a small parking lot at the shrine, and additional parking down the hill from the shrine with steps leading to the shrine’s entrance. The drive from MCAS Iwakuni to the shrine was about an hour and 45 minutes.
Once you walk through the first Torii Gate you’ll be greeted by the sound of the wind chimes if there is a bit of a breeze. There is a station off to the left where you can buy a wind chime to hang with the others. If you want to purchase one to hang, make sure you bring yen coins to place in the collection box. There are other stations throughout the shrine complex to purchase other items and hang them in designated places for various prayers or wishes. There is also an indoor “store” to choose various parts of a wind chime. You make your selection and take them to the main office at the entrance of the shrine to pay for them.
Take your time exploring the shrine and walking around the grounds. Although it’s fairly small, there are some pretty statues, Torii gates, and other religious symbols. There is also an additional wind chime tunnel you can walk through toward the back left. We visited on a pretty windy day so the sounds of the chimes were wonderful. I could have stayed there for hours just listening to the soothing music they make. To hear what the sounded like click here.
After visiting the shrine, we made our way to Tokiwa Park and Zoo which is just 10 minutes from the shrine. There are a handful of rides for children ages 2 to 10 years in the park. Bring yen to buy tickets at the vending machines. Even though we went on a Sunday, there were not many people there, and there was no wait for the rides. They also had plenty of sanitization stations and physical-distancing measures in place.
Next, we went into the zoo. Again, you will need yen for this as you purchase your tickets at the vending machine before entering. The beginning part of the zoo is filled with various types of monkeys who like to entertain and play around. There are also meerkats, capybaras, and alpacas. Toward the exit of the zoo, there is a place to relax in the shade while your kids play on a wooden playground. The playground also has a zip line swing.
Then, since the rain was holding off on this day, we decided to walk down to the lake and walk around. Unfortunately we did not get very much time because a storm was rolling in. We did walking along the lake to view the swans and fish. We walked to the small shrine just over a bridge. If we had more time, we would have enjoyed visiting the many art sculptures on display throughout the park.