From Kanazawa, we headed to Senmaida also known as a thousand rice fields flowing into the Sea of Japan. We took a whole day traveling to Wajima, a large city located by Senmaida, so that we could take the earliest bus to the rice fields the next morning. We were very happy to have finally made it to the famed fields. They were miraculous and that they were by the Sea of Japan was fantastic,
Mom found the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage on the National Geographic website. After the Onaida Nature Trail I was a little hesitant to go on another Japanese hike, but since National Geographic recommended it, we thought it shouldn’t be too hard, so we camped out at the start of the trail to begin our pilgrimage the next morning. The beginning of our hike began in a slight sprinkle but it eventually dried out. The cloud formations and atmosphere during the whole hike was miraculous. With the mist rolling in through the woods, the bright orange crabs crawling by, dark red wood chips covering the walkway, and the bright green leaves, the pilgrimage was visually incredible, but not as easy of a hike as we had hoped.
We went from an ancient rugged rain forest to an automobile factory in Toyota. It’s named after the Toyoda family which owns Toyota. Mom found a sign out by the water fountain that said “this is not a gargle station”. Our response was “What is a gargle station and why is there a sign against it?!”
The portion of Onaida Nature Trail we went on was under the forest canopy the entire way except at the very end where I was surrounded by misty clouds and amazing ancient trees! Although lonely planet and the Yakushima tourist center both quoted that the Onaida Nature Trail would only take 7-8 hours, it took us a total of two and a half days. It was ridiculous how CRAZY the trail was;
Nara, a little town outside of Kyoto, was one of the few places that we saw a lot of other international tourists. We were all there for the same reason, to feed the famous deer. I believe that the high volume of visitors resulted in a higher proportion of street markets peppering the town. We enjoyed visiting this city, it offered some decent food from the grocery store in the train station and the feisty, photogenic deer were fun too.
Traveling from Seattle, WA to Tokyo was strange enough all by itself, but then to make it all the way to Kyoto in the same week, going from one great experience to another, and another. I just can't find the words to adequately express how much loved and learned about Japan from the first day I arrived, through the first week, and the 6 weeks to follow. We took the time to explore Tokyo for two and half days to get a better bearing on where we were and how to travel in this amazing world on the other side of the Pacific.