It’s killing me, I might accidentally trash my previous post and deleted it permanently, but the fact that I have to face now is that, my post Quaint Village of Ainokura has gone and I have to redraft everything and once again letting my mind floating around Ainokura Village back to October 2014.
My previous post started with…
When asked, which part of Japan do I love the most? Besides Kyoto, I’ll choose Ainokura. It’s a quaint village, with a fresh air and green greenery. It was autumn when I got there, the foliage just started to change colour.
The cold awakened me, I was covered with a futon, under the kotatsu I shared with my roommate, Dorris. I woke up, clean up and had a quick breakfast with the guests of Suganuma. As we’d gone thru our plan for that day with the house manager Kyoko, I found out Mar & Jorge, a Spanish couple were having the same plan as I am. Both of them speak Japanese fluently so we agreed, the more the merrier.
We took off after numerous photo sessions with Kyoko and the rest. Waving them goodbye, and we walked to the main road, for the bus to Gokayama Village.
The road and even the tunnel look less scary in the morning, well it didn’t scary at all compare to the night when I arrived. We didn’t talk much at first, shy maybe? Or out of topic? But we get along together after a while, once we hopped on to the bus, after waiting for about 15minutes.
We agreed to spend a couple of hours in Gokayama before I hit Kyoto and they headed to Nara. Gokayama Village is one of the World Heritage Village in Japan, along with Shirakawago. It’s a small, petite version of Shirakawago, it might offer less than Shirakawago but when you are in a rush and Gokayama seems to be a good option compared to Shirakawago (another 60minutes ahead), why bother? It has the same feeling, the same type of houses, and plants and a welcoming villages.
The house is uniquely built by having a similar feature, known as Gassho-Zukuri architectural style, they have a steep rooftop to let the snow sliding down during winter and a two-storey high attic, with straw used to cover the rooftop. Winter in Gokayama is beautiful, I’m dying to have a second visit during winter.
Bear in mind, there are real families living in this small village, do not enter their houses as your liking without permissions, do not step on their plants and do not pluck in their flowers.
We have this OMG-Daikon (white radish) face, it reminds me of Aokubi Daikon with a tea in his hand, one of the weird Japanese cartoon characters I used to love when I was in college
Tori gate and the unknown shrine. While we were there, Mar keeps saying that there’s a presence of a Kitsune (fox/coyote in Japanese), because of the not-so-familiar type of poop we saw near the woods, that somehow might be belong to it! But we didn’t see any, we stayed away from that place.
Do not get fooled by the sun, the weather was chilly and a bit cold, it was windy. But the next minute before you know, the sun strikes, it almost felt like the old-bedtime story The Wind and The Sun, as the wind arrogantly boast his strength!
Jorge was photographing us across the paddy field while he was having a conversation with an old-Japanese man. Once they returned to Spain, the old man sent them a picture of Jorge that he took along with other beautiful photos of Japan
We went to the hill to get a full photos of Gokayama from the top. But, we were about to leave, we needed to get Mar & Jorge luggage back from the information counter and we didn’t want to miss the bus. We went half way, I took some photo and we (Mar and I) went back down to get their luggage and rushed to the main entrance waiting for the bus to take us to Johana Station. Jorge went up to the hill alone, he insisted to get a perfect photo.
There are only six times a day to get to Johana Station or back to Suganuma from Gokayama/Ainokura Village. The timetable can be viewed here, therefore, plan your trip wisely you wouldn’t want to miss the last bus back to the town.
We reached Johana Station about 35minutes later, both Mar and Jorge have JR Pass, I bought a ticket to Takaoka and get another ticket there to Kyoto. We bought some sandwiches and drinks, and they were kind enough to go through every detail of the sandwiches I was going to buy to make sure it’s halal enough for me. No meat, no pork, no doubt about its halal. I had tuna, and egg sandwiches.
We had a three-hour train ride, Jorge fall asleep as soon as we boarded into the JR Thunderbird train, Mar pulled out her craft stuff, and we keep talking along the journey, from the not-so-serious topic to a weighty topic. When we were about to reach, Mar had this OMG-I am-so-worry-about-you face. She asked about my next plan, gave me her number and reminded me things I should and shouldn’t do while in Japan, asked if I have any friends in Japan that I can rely on, before I told them my real age, I said, “I’m celebrating my 29th in Kyoto tomorrow” and she had this what+relieved face. We are actually born in the same year, she replied, “arghh…I can stop worrying about you now” she added, “you look younger than your real age and all by yourself”
We finally reached Kyoto Station. I had to take a different subway to Nijo Station and walked 15minutes to my hostel. Mar and Jorge needed to wait for another train, at a different track to continue their journey to Nara, they bought more foods, and we hugged goodbye. It was nice having them with me spending a whole day from a total stranger to a friend.
One of my favorite hostels so far, with a fully equipped toiletries, from the typical soap, shampoo and toothpaste, they provide their guest with facial wash, silky lotion, milky lotion, makeup remover and oh you name it! And the breakfast, with different type of tea stored in their fridge. You’ll love this place, including the shelf full with Japanese comics.
I met another young couple, I remember their name once, in my previous post that I accidentally deleted, they were from Sweeden, and they were planning for Nara the next day.
She asked me, “what is your favorite past time comic” when I was browsing through the comic on the shelf. I paused. “It’s 3×3 Eyes, I read it when I was in primary school, “ she replied, “you should get the original copy”
“Yeah, I should, “ she went back to her room after a while.
My phone rang 10minutes later a video call from Ichie, and the notification keeps coming through, it was midnight. A cold midnight, Happy Birthday! Because 29 is a big deal and I’d love to spend my day with a total stranger!
I received emails from Mar few months later, after my trip along with photos of us, she wrote, “We loved Yakushima. And after this trip, I have come to realize that I like more the West of Japan, than its capital. Tokyo sucks and I hate it! I feel lonely every time I go to this city! And I hate how cruel and cold it is”
I hate Tokyo too, I hate it, but deep inside me, I want to love it, the vibrant colourful city of Japan. I think, we should get to know each other better, I’ll be back, I promise.