Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Honshu, Japan Pt. 1

So much happened on my trip to Japan not least of which was No. Korea sending a test missile across Hokkaido & a typhoon blowing up the eastern coast of the country. 

The test missile landed in the ocean without much fuss & the typhoon sent cool temperatures and strong winds our way, but not much else, fortunately. 

I flew into Tokyo & spent a couple of days there before taking the bus to Nagano. Once out of the city, the landscape became hilly & green. I guess I've not watched enough Japanese films because I hadn't realised that Japan was so lush. I think the country 2/3 forest. -pretty impressive when you think how densely populated Japan is.

Speaking of forest, my friend and I took a day trip to Mt. Fuji & on the way we visited Aokigahara aka the Suicide Forest. We pulled over and parked. Aokigahara didn't seem so scary, and besides there were scads of other visitors around to make the place seem very lively, indeed. As you can read, we made it out from our forest walk alive. :)

After visiting the forest, we drove to a nearby lake in order to get a gander at Mt. Fuji. The weather was a bit overcast, but the clouds kept shifting around Mt. Fuji while we stood & admired the view. I was told that the clearest views of Fuji are very early in the morning. Regardless, we were able to take a few decent shots from the side of the road (like everyone else). 

During my stay, we also visited my friend's friend's rice paddy. The paddy has long been in his family--get this--for 20 generations. I don't how one could keep intact family records so long, but that's what he said. -1,200 years of rice harvesting on this one spot. You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was a bit flabbergasted. 

Friend's friend's wee work truck.

Paddy shot w/ neighbor's house in background. And, yes, she regularly receives rice from the harvest!

The rice was to be harvested this week, actually. It would then be dried in the open air for approx. 2 weeks. A machine, I was told, would then remove the rice from its stalks. And then, I think, the rice will be ready to eat. As I understand it, drying the rice by hand results in a much sweeter product. I'd be keen to try some & find out for myself! 

Manhole cover art in Inashi, Nagano

Nagano produces many fruits and vegetables. Walking in the vicinity of my friend's flat, I saw eggplant, perilla (Japanese basil), kiwi, asparagus, grapes, parsley, and tomatoes. Directly behind my friend's place were both rice and buckwheat fields. Nagano, I found out, is famous for its buckwheat.
Soba noodle joints, unlike here in California where ramen is still the noodle du jour, prevail. I was not disappointed with the fare, to be sure! 

The below picture shows a cold soba dish with rice ball, a dish of green onion/daikon/wasabi & picked cucumber (and out of shot was a small green salad & a dish of dipping sauce for the soba, tsuyu). This soba lunch was probably the best meal I had during my stay. 

Hot soba dish with sweet soya product called Yuba aka tofu skin.

A trip to Nikko to visit the temples and shrines of the area led us to eat Yuba, a dish made of the 'skins' of cooked tofu. The above picture shows a soba soup with Yuba as its centerpiece. All of it was delicious. 

On the grounds of the Nikko shrine site.

One of many temples on site. 

We spied a bridge on the walk back to the Nikko train station.

Once I upload more pictures to the computer, I'll post a bit more about the trip! 


  1. Colour me a bit jealous. I would love to see Japan - or at least Japan away from the biggest cities.
    Looking forward to hearing and seeing more about your trip.

    1. The contrast between city and country is pretty vast. I'm glad to have seen both. Tokyo, while I really dug it, is fairly gray & fairly flat.

  2. That all looks beautiful. I don't think I will ever tire of yet another view of Mt. Fuji. Do you know about the Ainu tribe of Hokkaido who have a bear-worshipping cult? They are renowned for luxurious body hair.

    1. Had read about the Ainu & read that they (big surprise) face discrimination to the point of intentionally marrying non-Ainu for the purpose of assimilation. Would love to travel to Hokkaido, eat the food, avoid being bombed by Kim Jong-Un & try to spot the remaining Ainu.

  3. What a trip Bea. I bet it was so fun and gorgeous. You have to watch one of my favorite films, CHERRY BLOSSOMS, directed by a German woman whom I can't remember her name. It blew me away. What a trip that must have been.

    1. Doris Dörrie is her name & I love her films. Cherry Blossoms was really heavy & really good! I'd recommend watching Erleuchtung Garantiert (Enlightenment Guaranteed) also by Dörrie. -funny, touching & set in Japan!

  4. 20 generations in one spot?!? Wow.

    1. That's what he said. Crazy. 1,200 years, only. Uuuuhh whaaat?!

      They just harvested the rice today. I heard it went well.


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