One of the best parts of visiting a new place for a long time is that you have the chance to explore more of the small towns you wouldn’t typically be able to fit into a 10 day trip. I keep talking about how beautiful Japan is but if all I saw during my time here was big cities I may talk about the impressive architecture more than the beautiful lakes and landscapes (all of which are equally impressive in my book). During my last week here, I’ve been camping out on Neetha’s couch and enjoying a more laid back lifestyle of sleeping in, going to her school and hanging out with her friends. I threw in a little bit of job hunting for kicks, too, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves just yet. On Wednesday I decided to take a day trip to one of the neighboring towns called Asuka to see if I can get some photos of the leaves changing colors. Asuka is a small town but its jam packed with history.The previous night I had done my research on what I wanted to see when I was there since there’s lots of temples, shrines and observation points. For my main “must-see site” I chose the coolest sounding thing on the list: a pile of giant rocks! Also referred to as Ishibutai Tomb. Ok, I’ll admit that I really did want just to go to see giant rocks stacked on top of each other at first, but when I read more about it I got even more interested. Apparently when they were excavating the site decades ago they found sarcophagus fragments. Experts believe that the tomb may have been made for one of the most powerful leaders of the Asuka Period back in the 6th century. Super cool, right? Boulders and mummys, oh my!
Upon arrival in Asuka, I found out that I had just missed the bus that leaves the station only once an hour. Of course. The bicycle and I don’t have the best relationship, so the information lady told me that the walk to the tomb would take about an hour. I wasn’t too thrilled about that (going by bus would have been about 15 minutes) but decided to try to find my way on foot instead of waiting around. And I’m so glad I did – another reminder of why its good to take the scenic route. Asuka is such a beautiful, quiet rural town. It was so pleasant to walk along the roads and pass by farmers tending to their crops and see all the beautiful flowers that border the sidewalks. It’s not often that you come across a place so peaceful, and it was as if the air there unclogged all the garbage of the internet and television from my mind and let all these great ideas and thoughts inside. I always thought that big cities were good for that because of the constant stimulation of different people and ideas all in one place, but maybe that’s what did me in this time. I left Orange County five years ago for that kind of awakening and mental stimulation, and now I left NYC to decompress and clear my mind. Now if only I could find a way to be on a private island for a few months, I’d feel like a new woman!
Anyway, back to Asuka, one thing that did leave me a bit unsettled was the size of the spiders there. They say everything’s bigger in the country after all. These spiders were huge, and they were everywhere. If Bear Grylls was on this journey with me he probably would have ripped them out of their webs and eaten them for protein or something because they were so meaty. Yeah, I just grossed myself out too, sorry. But aside from the freakishly massive spiders, I really enjoyed my time in Asuka. And Ishibutai Tomb did not disappoint either! Tomorrow Neetha and I will head to Kobe for an overnight trip. These last few days in Japan are precious and I hope to be able to make the most of it!