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Devi's Japan Travels Part 7: The Country Life & Furumachi's Hinamatsuri

Ujitei day 3

It was a very rainy day. After all that traveling we felt like taking it easy and just relaxed at home. I say at home but it was our airbnb called Ujitei, where we stayed for a week. This place felt like home so I referred to it as 'home'.

We talked to Toshi and he recommended we go to an onsen in another village. Toshi's recommendations have brought us to really nice places before so we decided to go for it. We thought it was close but it ended up further away than we thought. Driving through the misty mountains of Tsuyama area, going further north, we suddenly saw a little village. With Navidevi guiding us, we found the onsen and it was simply beautiful, surrounded by (snowy) mountains. 

We heard there were waterfalls in the mountains as well, so we wanted to head there after the onsen. The onsen was everything we thought we would be experiencing in our Shikoku hotel which was a bit disappointing. There was an outside and inside bath, the outside bath was breathtaking. Surrounded by the mountains I was sitting in a hot outside bath, there was a cold one as well. I alternated between the two which was invigorating. The big stones were nice to lean against. And it was raining, the cold raindrops on my face while I was in a hot bath were refreshing. I loved this moment.

 No worries, people from the outside could not see you (unless they had binoculars..)

 I just want to go back to this place with its fresh mountain air and the cool raindrops on my face

Soothing for the mind and spirit

After going to the onsen I started talking to the older ladies at the counter. After the usual small talk I asked about the waterfalls, and she said the mountain had been closed off due to snow. I was like, it's april, really? Snow? I didn't believe her. She said the roads would be opened in 3 days. Stubborn as we are, we decided to try anyway. Well, then this happened.

Go to Japan in spring they say, it will be nice and warm and there will be a lot of sakura they say.

So we decided to head home. It was already dark when we reached Kamo village where we were staying, we decided to go to a local supermarket and get some food. They were selling ready-made nikudango (Japanese meatballs) and they were SO amazing. They already smelled amazing so we got lots of them. So we cooked our other foods and had them with our meal as well. I really love nikudango, definitely recommend them if you have the opportunity. Locally made foods are the best!

Ujitei day 4: Late Hinamatsuri

Yuka invited us to go to Hinamatsuri (girl's day) which is usually on march the 3rd or 3/3, but in this area they celebrate it later apparently. Yuka and her husband Atsushi have a store/hostel named Antamina in Furumachi. We drove up there not using the toll-roads (so for free), there is an option to avoid toll roads in the navigation so we saved some money with that. When we arrived we could see the beautiful countryside and Furumachi is a quaint little town. 

I couldn't stop being amazed by the Japanese countryside. We went up to Antamina and saw Yuka there. We met her husband Atsushi, and we got a little tour around Antamina. They design the jewellery they are selling. There were some really interesting pieces there, such as wedding rings with wonderful meanings behind them. Really worth to check out the place, so artsy and the interior design was also very atmospheric. 

Not only is it a beautiful building with specially designed jewellery by themselves, it is also a hostel. Check out the next video to get an impression of the place.

We sat in front of the place and were chatting. As there were children coming to get stamps Yuka had to stay at Antamina as Atsushi offered to show us around. We walked through the (lovely) main street with the Japanese dolls displayed everywhere.

 Kids performing on their flutes, so cute!

Also adults performing on what appears to be an ocarina. They played one of my favourite songs, Sakamoto Kyu - Sukiyaki.

 Furumachi's main shopping street
 Slowly blooming tree.. 

 Close ups

 Beautiful old Japanese houses.

Lovely little details. There is a meaning behind all of these, we got an explanation but I forgot. Something about 7 gods. Sorry I forgot folks! Comment on this blog if you know it ;)

Beautiful dolls displayed, some of them really old and been in families for generations. I remember being creeped out by the dolls in this picture to the right: they had no faces. Even Atsushi was surprised! People who don't like movies like Chucky and are creeped out by dolls might want to avoid this festival hehe.. heh...

Finally, sakura is blooming! (a bit..) The weather was amazing too!

Walking around with Atsushi was a blast. He is very nice and funny. We really liked him and Yuka. They studied English in Antwerpen, so close to our homecountry! Had some Q-time with them. Walking around we had a really fun time, he took us to taste some amazake (Japanese drink made out of fermented rice) which Atsushi loved but we didn't because there were heaps of ginger in there, I usually like ginger but this was a bit too much. Atsushi didn't mind it (he drank ours too haha). 

We talked to a lot of people, countryside people are so friendly! There were lots of people that wanted to take a picture with us. Felt a bit like a celebrity!

I hope he got my good side lol.

At the end we got a coffee for Atsushi and some snacks. We tricked the lady of the coffee place into thinking we were all half Dutch half Japanese or something. She didn't really get the joke but I had a laugh :'). After hanging out a bit longer with Yuka and Atsushi and enjoying the sun, we went to a sushi place they recommended. We had sushi, the BIGGEST I have ever had.

 Look at these chunks of salmon! They didn't fit in my mouth in one go.

 The ebi was huge too!

We asked what the special roll was and we got it for free! So nice.. But after those big pieces of sushi we had this one to go (and definitely enjoyed it later..)

After a nice and sunny day and good sushi we drove home. I was so exhausted I already fell asleep in the car. It is really nice sleeping in a car when the sun is shining nice, warm and cozy. I am really happy we came to Ujitei, it really is the 'slow' life in the countryside, people are easygoing and we felt really relaxed there. Feeling the hospitality and friendliness of the Japanese countryside is the best thing ever. 

~Written by Devi~

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