I have a friend who, as he had always said to me, lives in a total paradise. I never believed him until I saw for myself.
He lives in Minokamo, a very small town in Gifu, somewhere between Kyoto and Tokyo, and northwest to Nagoya. Small people live in Gifu; people who think small and love the countryside. Minokamo itself is not a special place to be at. It’s more or less a village with rice fields and outlets where they sell Gucci, Prada and Hermes on sale. Contradictory, but yes outlets with labels, which I haven’t been to, because my male friend didn’t want to bring me female shopping. (How Much I miss my gay friends!)
Day one in Gifu
The first day in Gifu we hiked starting at Magome-juku and walking 7 kilometres to Tsumago-juku
Both are small villages on a path people used to walk to go to Tokyo. The Japanese government decided to keep the pathway and both villages traditional and create a touristy place. The people in the area didn’t really live there, but travelled back and forth to open their stores and restaurants. The pathway was mostly following a river, which ended up in a big waterfall, but continued as a river to Tsumago-juku. It was really nice to walk over and passed, bricks, stones, old houses and the flower-trees. There were also thee houses on the way, where you could stop for a cup of thee (give a tip of around 100 yen). Hearing the water floating, walking past the waterfalls, taking pictures of the small waterfalls, seeing the sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossums), going to the toilet and embracing the luxury of being able to enjoy nature in such a modern yet authentic atmosphere. I love Japan... Luckily the weather was excellent. No cars, motorcycles, I guess the country side of Japan, did make me feel like home and brought me back to my jungle roots. And made me realize I really am a jungle woman, but a city girl at the same time too.
I really enjoyed it.
Arriving at Tsumago-juku there were a lot of traditional shops, where you could buy traditional cutlery, plates, glasses all made from wood.
Everything was traditional. For diner we ate a traditional Japanese meal; consisting of homemade noodles and rice on a stick. The noodles you dip in cold soy sauce, which is mixed with some green onions and wasabi, and slurp them. I don’t slurp, but Japanese people do J
And the rice stick, is about the best traditional food item I ate in Japan. Man it was good. The stick was sticky rice dipped in a nut-sauce; made from hazelnuts and sesame, and then grilled. I could have eaten five more of those things and still love it.
I love food. I ate everything Japan sold me, and loved everything I ate.
What I found economically not stimulating for the villages is that the shops close around 17.00 when the last bus goes. I would walk back, if I had to if the place was still going on.
Day two in Gifu
We decided to go to a monkey park, where we could see monkeys walking freely and we could touch them. We ended up in a monkey park; with I think 10 monkeys, though I liked the blond monkeys. They were so cute! But the park was more a children’s playhouse than a monkey park. Seriously! I might sound to direct but I didn’t really like the place. I think Phil and I were the only two people without children walking around. We stayed in the park for about 2 -3 hours and took off. So, monkey park in Gifu is a MUST NOT DO!
After our failed attempt back to natures gift we went to a barbecue of his friends. Seriously everyone was drunk. Seeing Japanese people being drunk was a cultural shock to me. Even the women were drunk.
Asahi, is Japan’s most famous beer. And … is Japanese women most famous cocktail.
I drank a little bit of both. Too bad Phil had to drive so he couldn’t drink. I am still impressed how much Japanese people liked me. There was a group of people hanging around me. I don’t know if it was my hair or me being foreign which attracted them, but they were so nice. Ayumi, spook three words of English, yeah, good and beautiful. But still I understood everything she said to me.
I love Japan! I have no words to explain how much I loved being there and meeting the people.
Day three in Gifu
My last day in Gifu, Phil and I spent in Gujo, another traditional town in Japan. The big difference between Gujo and both Magome-juku and Tsumago-juku Is that the people in Gujo still live traditional. The houses in Gujo are still inhibited, the shops are open everyday, people go to school in Gujo, pray and eat in Gujo.
The founder of fake food is originally from Gujo, where he first established a fake food fabric. In Japan about every restaurant presents there dishes with fake food in the shop window. Before fake food, restaurants used to present real food, which ofcourse doesn't stay good for a long time. So starting a fake food fabric was a quite a good discovery.
Gujo is really a beautiful town. Phil and I walked through the town, found a garden where you could sit and relax a bit, got lost and ended up at a waterfall and went to the famous Gujo Hachiman Castle, which is on a cliff and gives you an overview of the whole town. Gujo has a lot of temples and shrines, narrow streets for cars to drive in and no side walk. There was a watermill, which produced clean water you could drink. There were clean glasses you could use and a faucet you could tab water from.
I tried to explain my time in Gifu as elaborateas possible. But actually there are words too little and too less to explain how I feel and think about Gifu. I loved the place, I loved walking around, I loved the quietness and soulfulness of the town. Maybe the weather made the atmosphere even better, but Gifu is just a place you would have to see for yourself. I know you would love it.