There's something special about going to a different country, understanding nothing, but still feeling captivated all the same. I couldn't resist stopping to take a photo of these paper lanterns, but was surprised to learn later that they're sake barrels (kazaridaru). Long ago, sake was written with the characters for god and wine. People would drink sake to feel closer to the gods, and is still used in ceremonial and social occasions today. These barrels were donated from sake brewers around Japan as an offering to the shrine and its deities. The beauty of the barrels and the religious symbolism of this time old tradition is one of Japan's unique cultural aspects.