Several months ago our city in Osaka had a “hashigozake” event. Basically it translates to pub crawl or barhopping in English. Our city has over 100 restaurants, pubs, bars, izakayas and cafes taking part twice a year. They provide patrons with food and drinks for ¥500.
Anyway, we invited our friends (Tavo and Satomi) to come join us for the event and sleep over at our place. We had not seen them since we left Australia. They had moved to Japan around the same time we did, but to Nara.
So this weekend they invited us to visit them. We happily packed our bags and caught the train to a small countryside town in Nara.
After we dropped off our bags in their car, Tavo took us for a tour of the town visiting shrines and temples, while Satomi was at work. It was a scorching day, and we were honestly struggling in the heat, going from one vending machine to the next, drinking litres of wheat tea.
The first stop on our tour was the Oomiwa-Jinja temple, where our friends had their wedding ceremony.
From there the tour continued on a small track through a forest, which if I remember correctly is part of an old pilgrimage route. However I could be wrong…
Then it was time for some well deserved lunch. We stopped at a small shop that had set up in the forest along the track, called Hanamori (花もり). Their Somen noodles were absolutely delicious!
After lunch we walked our way back to town, and we bought some Somen noodles as souvenir to take home. Nara is renowned for their Somen noodles.
Then we went back to our friends place. They are currently renovating a house on the parents property which they will hopefully move into later this year. Seeing the place they were living in, and their vegetable garden, confirmed to us how much we want to live in the countryside as well.
After having a well deserved rest we went with Tavo on an afternoon walk to see some more of their town and surroundings. The rice fields looked so beautiful in the setting sun.
When we got back to their place, we sat down next to a rice field and talked about life while we waited for Satomi to get home. We made plans for the next day, where we would go into the mountains to swim in a local river. Awesome!
The sun had set, and it was time for dinner. So we all went together to a local Yakiniku place. We ate and drank and it was a great end to the day.
When it was time to go home we used a service called daiko (代行), where a driver will come and drive you and your car home. Another driver follows in another car to take the driver back after returning your car. Genius way of avoiding having to leave your car somewhere overnight.
After a good night sleep we were up for day 2.. However we didn’t document it much. But the swim we had in the river was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in Japan so far… Incredibly refreshing water.
We’ll be going on more countryside adventures in the future with our friends for sure. What a great catch up!