The morning started after feeling so refreshed after a great night’s sleep. We decided to have one last bath at the inn, and this time, I went to the ‘family bath’, which again, was a private little bath that only I occupied. It was so nice to bathe and then sit in the warm water. After enjoying a peaceful morning soak, I headed back to the room to meet up with Shoko so we could go down to breakfast.
Again, a gourmet meal awaited us, and we enjoyed every bite. Mr Iwaki was there with his wife, and we said hello. After breakfast, we packed up our things and headed for the car, where we had happened to park next to Mr Iwaki. We took some pictures together and bid farewell and congratulations to his retirement, and were on our way to Mt Aso.
During our drive, we noticed it getting colder and colder. The rain was slight, but as we climbed the mountain, the rain started looking more like frozen rain. After a turn, we were shocked to see snow covered grass mocking us as we continued driving up the mountain thinking that we’d be able to get out and climb to see the Volcano.
Unfortunately, the weather was so freezing cold, that it really made my mood change as to even going to the volcano anymore! We did stop at a pedestrian bridge that was absolutely freezing with rain. We walked across fighting the strong winds as we crossed over a humongous gorge. I’m all up for adventure, but when the adventure deals with rain and cold, count me out L
We made it across, and the only thing I could think about was, oh my gosh, we have to go all the way back across to the car again. After making it back across, we found a vending machine. Japan has a great idea with their vending machines, and several drinks are served hot. So, we got some warm drinks and were able to feel our hands again.
We continued on and stopped at this little building that said it was open. It was perched on a hill, and looked like nothing special at all. As our little Cube bumped through the muddy driveway up the hill, we parked beside just one other car curious as to what we would find inside. From the outside, it was a two story looking house, ugly yellow, stale looking. When we walked in, we were so surprised by how chic and modern the interior was. Complete with a little fire stove in the middle, the open floor plan was airy and modern. The owner greeted us, and was dressed like he’d come from fashion forward Tokyo just to serve us lunch. After warming up by the stove, we started talking to the group that was already there, who happened to be showing a guest from Berlin around Kyushu. The German girl wouldn’t even make eye contact with me, but didn’t seem like she was able to speak Japanese enough to contribute to the conversation, so I continued simply with everyone else. Shoko and I always laugh because of our situation and wondering what people think. I’m the foreigner, and she’s left her husband at home to tour Kyushu with a friend she had in San Francisco. We always laugh and play a fake conversation telling everyone our story after they’ve left and we’re alone.
After lunch we continued our way towards Takachiho. There is a traditional dance put on at 8pm that we wanted to see. It’s a folk tale about the creation of Japan through myth. When we arrived at our hotel, we checked in, and I was instantly disappointed that it was a room that had been smoked in. Being in Japan, I’m actually surprised I haven’t had to deal with smoke as much as I have.. it’s only been once or twice that I’ve smelled it, and unfortunately, the hotel room smelled of it. But, rooms weren’t really available here so we put our stuff down and got a bite to eat.
After a surprisingly delicious dinner of Karaage chicken battered so lightly that it was soft and delicious, we made our way to Takachiho Shrine to get seated for the traditional story. There were 3 skits done with masked characters each acting out the story of when Amaterasu, the god of light hid herself in a cave to punish her brother for destroying crops, hiding the world from her light in eternal darkness. The gods came together to make noise so much to make her think she was missing out. Once she peeked out of the cave, the other god took the stones that had closed her in and threw them far away (actually to another prefecture and island) so as to never allow her to hide her light again. Then came the day and night balance again. It was a fun dance to watch as I’d never really known much about Japanese mythology.