On Saturday 10th September we celebrated Dan’s 30th birthday a mere month late!
We did this by visiting Tsuwano on the infamous Yamaguchi steam train.
Before the steam train weekend away I experienced my first full week of teaching. They have kept me busy! More on that to follow…a relaxing weekend was just what the doctor ordered!
We spent our Friday night at an all you can eat and drink beer terrace bar overlooking the Shimonoseki straights across to Kyushu. We met with a local group of ALTs and Yamaguchi residents. It was a really fun evening and we learnt a lot about some new Japanese friends and their plans to travel and study abroad.
Saturday we took the steam train to Tsuwano and spent the night at a swanky hotel. We enjoyed the local onsen (from which I got to watch a beautiful sunset over the mountains) and a frog / bug infested walk along the river. The famous Taikodani Inari Shrine was worth the visit to Tsuwano alone. As we stayed overnight we were fortunate to see the shrine lit up along the hillside. Our plans to climb it at night were thwarted though, by flying spiders and a terrifying whistle / scream that was being omitted from the woods the shrine climbed through…we thought it less creepy to just climb it the following day!
The setting was beautiful with lush green rolling mountains. So on our second day we walked up one to Kakuouzan Yomeiji Temple to find it empty of other people. Enjoying some solitude in a grand setting, it also had an element of creepy. I kept imagining we would turn the corner to find a hovering figure in the hall way. Still, that would have made for a really exciting self opportunity…We continued up the hill past the school into some beautiful woods and stumbled across an abandoned apartment block and wooden house. It was excellent and fuelled our conversation to slowly conclude we had entered bear territory and the bears had taken over. That was the only logical explanation for the lack of people!
A few nervous laughs later and ten minutes of stomping back down the hill, we arrived at the train track in time to see another hoard of day trippers arrive on the steam train. Smug in the knowledge we had seen the sights in relative peace and isolation we enjoyed our fourth ice-creamof the trip, watching the word go by.
Oh and see if you can spot my whally in the photos!