Fresh fish, large piles of snow, and wide rise fields – these three terms can summarize the last few weeks in Japan. So far, I have been able to exlore the urban and well-populated areas of Japan, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Tokyo. As a matter of fact, the majority of Japan’s population lives in these well-known areas, simply because one third of the country is unhabitable due to geographic conditions (forests, mountains). Yet, what many visitors miss out is the rural Japan and its incredibly beautiful areas outside the big cities. During a short trip with Mr. and Ms. Okamoto and Ms. Moriyama, I was given the chance to get to know some of these parts throughout the last weeks. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. and Ms. Okamoto for these unique insights and days!
On our journey to Toyama, we drove along the coast though Ishikawa prefecture, where we made a lunch break at a little fishing village and also bought some crayfish for dinner. A variety of fresh sea shells and fantastic sashimi – I have rarely before had such a delicious seafood lunch. I also learned that Japan people, on average, consume 40 kg of fish every year, more than national fishing industry is able to satisfy. In fact, 10% of global fishing is consumed by the Japanese population.
In the historic traditional house of Ms. Okamoto’s parents, we enjoyed the crayfish for dinner. I was also able to experience the special peaceful, harmoneous atmosphere of a traditional Japanese home. Untreated, natural wood, filigree sliding doors that are covered with transparent paper create a plain and simple architecture and an impressive pleasurable feeling.
Besides aesthetic aspects, the movable walls also appear to be very practical.
On the next day, we went 3,000 metres up to Tateyama Kurobe, where we enjoyed a breathtaking view over the Japanese alps and crossed the famous alpine street, that winded its way from pretty chestnut forests up to the snow. Furthermore, we hiked to a number of impressive water falls and saw how beautful rural Japan is, with its forests, rise fields, and mountains. In the middle of Gifu Prefecture, we also visited the village Shirakawa, were we saw traditional vernacular houses. On the way back to Osaka, we stopped at Inuyama close to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture to visit the city’y historic castle.
These days, offside the popular urban areas, have allowed me to get to know a wholly new perspective on Japan. I would recommend every tourist to visit these rather untypical rural areas too.