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A good friend Michelle Nagai suggested that I treat myself to an Onsen and go to an ancient shrine, about 45 minutes outside of Niigata city in Yahiko.  It didn’t take much to convince me once I saw the photos online.  What a gorgeous place.  A friend of Hisako suggested a more modern onsen where I stayed the night (it was Christmas night, to be exact) and enjoy the beautiful warm spa and incredible dinner and breakfast.  I haven’t felt so relaxed in a long time.  It was a complete splurge…

When I got off the train, I just started aimlessly walking...believing towards the Shrine, but not too certain...

I ate a little something by a path near a river...it seemed so peaceful...no one was around, but it felt safe and somehow...divine...

...little did I know that this was the river that lead from the Yahiko Shrine...

Torii, entrance to the Yahiko Shrine

first gate

grrrrrhhhhh....

graaaaahhhhh!

Yahiko Shrine

Another clenched mouthed tiger guardian

The open-mouthed partner protector

snowy shrine

Taking a break to eat a little by a pond, I noticed beautiful blue fish in the water. In my attempt to take a photo of them inside the water, my camera instead captured the sky

view from the bench

Letting the fish mountainair-dry...

That night, at the onsen hotel, I received my 9-course meal...this is the menu...

I forgot to take a photo of dinner, so here's my breakfast...oishikatta desu!! yum...

Next day, it was raining hard, so I went to the Yahiko Shrine museum, here are some swords, for Liam!

Here is a beautiful horse, for Tess...

more Samurai swords...

self-protrait with swords, mirror, light...ghosts...

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