WOW. What a day. Wonderful and absolutely beautiful. So, before I let myself get to far ahead let me go back to the beginning. And let me tell you, what a great day. Be prepared!!
First, I slept in until noon and it felt so good. I have always heard that after you go the onsen that night you will sleep until you wake up. No distractions during the night, and let me tell you that that was the best night of sleep that I think that I have EVER had. Seriously. I slept for 10 hours and every minute was wonderful. I felt like a whole new person when I got up. My body felt clean and pure, I also was actually fully rested and it was great to feel that way. Anyways, Tyler was still asleep so I walked to the convenience store and got some chocolate-melon bread and a Pocari Sweat. That is sort of like a gatorade, and it is delicious. It`s kinda wierd though drinking "sweat". Then Judith came at about 1 and picked me up and then we were on our way to pick up Tyrel from Rusty and Laura`s. We set out on our treck to spend the day with Hajime. Hajime lives over an hour from Taga, so we met about halfway at a train station because Judith had a friend that lived in that town (can`t remember the name), and Tyrel and I got in the car with Hajime. He was so excited to see us!! The first place he wanted to take us was a surprise.
We drove for about 15 minutes and pulled into a parking lot. We got out and walked inside of a building with a huge gift shop and restaurant. We kept on walking until we got outside. OH MY GOODNESS!!! We got out there and the camera immediately went on. We walked across this little bridge and beneath us were the biggest carp that I have ever seen. Every single one of the suckers were at least 3 feet long. No joke! They were all swimming around there and there were tons of them. We walked along the bridge until we reached this rocky path. Here, we were surrounded by wildflowers. Hajime could tell us the name of EVERY SINGLE tree and flower in that area. It was so beautiful. Here we were, in Japan, looking at something that many people do not get to look at.
The place that we went to is over 400 years old. It was once the home of The Second Duke of Mito, Mitukuni Tokugawa. It was called The Seizan-So House, and it is a National Historic Landmark. The entrance to the property is amazingly beautiful and I have never in my life seen anything like it. The air smelt crisp and clean, the cool breeze blowing off of our faces, the smell of the river piercing our noses. Amazing.
We kept on walking down the path and we got deeper into woods. Instead of wildflowers and water lillies, we were surrounded by 500 years old cedar trees, bamboo, and tons of other trees and forestry. Hajime paid for us all to go in (he would not let us pay). The ticket guy gave us an english guide to read as we walked along the trail. I soon put mine away because Hajime could tell us so much more. The guy who once lived there was a practicing person of Confucious-ism(?), and everything is very plain and humble. Everything is exactly the same way as it was 400 years ago. I mean, America was barely "America" at this time! We walked along this beautiful place, taking numerous pics along the way, and saw so much history. We came to the house and it was made from a clay-like substance, bamboo, and grass. The house is still standing today, with no modern help of any kind. Back then, the roof was made of grass. In order to keep the roof from catching on fire and burning down the whole house, they would throw water on it. There are plants growing out of the roof! Amazing! It just amazed me that all of this is just sitting there, 400 years old, and looks like it was built yesterday. We saw all of these wonderful things, to much to mention in this blog, but let me tell you, it was a memory I will NEVER forget. Bryan and Tyler really missed out.
After we left the park, Hajime wanted to show us these 1,000 year old cedar trees. 1,000 YEARS OLD!! Can you even imagine? We were on our way, driving practically through the mountains, and Hajime points out the window and says that he owns that land. He tells Tyrel and I that he owns 80,000 square meters of land. That is 80 square kilometers of land!! Somebody, quick tell me how many acres that is!! Gorgeous land! On the side of the mountain, full of wild vegatables, and lush greenery. Wow. All of a sudden, he stops the car and tells us to stay inside. Tyrel and I thought that we were having car trouble. Here we are, in the middle of nowhere, and Hajime goes and picks this bamboo chute. It is like 2 feet long, and he opens my door and tells that it is for me. He said that you peel the skin and eat it. He said that he would cook it when we got to his house. We finally made it to the trees. You can see these guys from like a mile away!! These trees were humongous! Absolutely wonderful and so beautiful. Definately a sight. It was about 5 and Judith was meeting us at his house for dinner.
We got to the house and met his wonderful and lovely wife. We get inside and he slides open the back door and we look out into this garden. Not a garden with a couple of bushes and flowers, but a huge garden that is like nothing I have ever seen before. His house is over 80 years old, and built by his family. The house is in amazing conditon. The windows are made of rice paper and they are immaculate. Paper thin, and not a tear anywhere! Hajime showed us around the house and showed us the guest room, and told us that we should come back and spend the night one time. Judith is good friends with him and his wife, so she was helping prepare dinner.
Dinner was amazing. We had these noodles, I think a type of Soba (buckwheat) noodle that is similar to angel hair pasta, but served cold. You get the noodles and dip them in this sauce and eat them. They were delicious. The plate of noodles was huge, but I ate every last one. We got compliments as to how well we knew how to eat with chopsticks(not that easy). We had a plethera of food to choose from and it was all amazing!! After dinner Hajime pulled out a harmonica and started playing them. He kept pulling more and more out. He has 7 in all!! One is massive and has every sharp chord on it. His favorite one, though, is one that he got in America. He likes it because it is so small and he can carry it in his pocket. He played us lots of songs. Him and his wife wanted to listen to some American music so Tyrel and I pulled out our mp3 players. They loved that. We played them all sorts of stuff. Hajime`s wife was cooking the bamboo and it was nearly done. She asked Hajime why he wanted her to cook that one, because she already had some chutes cooked. He said that he wanted that one because he picked that one for us. We ate them and you put mayonnaise on them. Oishe! Delicious! Tyrel and I both love spicy stuff, so they made us eat this spicy Korean sauce and it was great. Not that spicy. They do not like it. Next, came some ever hotter stuff from Nepal. It was very spicy but wonderful. Hajime got so excited and thought that we would try anything. He came back with this bottle of stuff. He told us that this was very very salty. It was fermented fish insides (the later part they "forgot" to tell us about). He put a little on a spoon for us and it was sooooo salty!!! WOW!! Crazy salty. It really was not that bad, but way to salty. Hajime said that even a lot of Japanese people do not eat this stuff. Hajime did not think that we were American`s, because most American`s will not even try anything like that. Him and his wife kept calling us great and amazing. Like it was a title they gave us. It was nearing 9 so we headed out. Hajime and his wife are such great people. They walked us out and waved at us as we left.
Hajime is one of those people that you could spend a whole month with and never get bored. He said that if we ever came back, that we should stay for a little longer. Tyrel and I want to come back and just live there for like a month. Judith said that they always love foreigners to stay with them because they just love people. They like to hear about where people are from. They wanted us to teach them some Texan words. It was hilarious hearing them say howdy, fire (like fur the way we say it), yall, and fixin to. It was so much fun. They call Judith their other daughter. Hajime is now on my list of "10 Coolest People That I Have Ever Met (Excluding Family)". He is like a grandfather. He is my Japanese grandfather! Just a wondeful man and a great person. His wife is so sweet and both are a blast to be around. Here we are, just having spent 7 hours with him and we were so upset that we had to leave. If any of you are ever in a small town in Japan (I`ll get back to you on the name), then stop and spend the night at Hajime`s house. You will definately not forget it. So, that was my day. All I can say about it is AMAZING!!!! Hope that you all enjoyed it. By the way, I have been here for over a week already and have taken about 90 pictures. Today alone I took over 60. WOW!