By the time I left Naiku, it was almost noon but I still felt completely up to walking on and on
But perhaps the benevolent kami had other plans for me.
As I exited Naiku, I caught a glimpse of this bustling and very interesting street.
Okage-yokocho street is on your left as you cross Ujibashi Bridge and it is where most pilgrims end up in, after their visit to the shrine.
Though relatively new, Okage-yokocho is built in the style of the Edo period.
Buildings that were seen along the old pilgrimage road to Ise Jingu have been relocated or rebuilt and reconstructed for modern day pilgrims like us to see.
Now the buildings house commercial establishments such as restaurants, food shops, souvenir stands and yes -- even Family Mart has managed to blend in completely. It's heartening to see that even modern convenience stores can let go of their standard look in order to be part of the environment.
Okage in Japanese means "thankful". I'm glad that I decided to walk through this street instead of heading straight back to Iseshi Station. What an interesting and picturesque place this was.
There were a lot of food kiosks that were quite tempting -- this one sold cold pickled cucumber for just 200 yen!
This barbecue stand gave off such mouthwatering smells of grilled meat. Aside from the usual chicken, pork or beef skewers, you could also choose organ meats such as liver, intestines, sweetbreads or even tripe.
O Shokujidokoro Yamada looked quaint and inviting and just right for a quiet lunch.
I suppose we were all hungry pilgrims inside Yamada. The air conditioner was on high cool mode -- it was such a relief to come in out of the heat and the humidity.
Aside from the front of the house where there were about just eight tables, Yamada also has a small section for those who wish to dine Japanese style. The kitchen is just to the back -- it's a very compact and neat little operation.
The menu is conveniently placed on the table top so there's no need to worry about how to order. Even if it's in Japanese, the pictures and yes the price, removes all the guesswork.
The restaurants along Okage-yokocho serve simple meals, usually udon and donburi.
Perhaps pilgrims of old ate even more simple meals or brought their own bento boxes.
Restaurant Yamada was no exception. The choices offered were inexpensive udon bowls which started for as low as just 450 yen while the lunch setto of gyudon (beef topping on rice) with udon on the side was priciest at 1050 yen.
Yes, I was greedy. True to the name of this blog, my porky self rose to the occasion and I ordered the udon AND the gyudon setto. The waitress asked if I wanted my udon hot or cold and of course I chose cold udon. It came piled with bonito flakes, chopped spring onions and a few ice cubes.
The gyudon was a good generous serving of tender thinly sliced beef, onions and my favourite garnish of bright red pickled ginger.
After lunch, I cut through this small alley way that leads directly to the bus stop. There are quite a number of trains from Iseshi station to Osaka every hour so I wasn't so concerned about missing my train.
I had been told that sticky rice cakes were the omiyage (present) of choice from Ise.
This shop even had photos of the Royal Family prominently displayed so I suppose their products have the royal stamp of approval.
If it's good enough for the Royal Family of Japan, it's good enough for me!
After buying a couple of boxes, it was time to head for the bus stop.
Okage-yokocho lived up to its name.
I was truly thankful that I took the time to walk through this fascinating glimpse into the culture and traditions of the pilgrim route to Ise Jingu.