Saturday, September 03, 2005

Country Hospitality

It was so good to catch up with Cheryl again. She had a friend over visiting from Perth and had organised a quick trip to Okayama prefecture. In order to encourage more tourists and foreign visitors to Okayama prefecture, the government built 6 International Villas which give visitors a taste of what Okayama has to offer.

We stayed overnight at the Takebe Villa in the inaka town of Takebe (many of my teachers had never heard of it). As much as I love my town and living relatively close to the city, I also enjoy heading out into the inaka and experiencing the real countryside of Japan.

After school I dashed to meet Cheryl, Pat and Masao (the nurse at Cheryl's school who has really good english). We took a super rapid train, a bullet train and then a local train to get to our destination. After being on a few bullet trains now, it's quite sad to say that the whole novelty of it has slowly worn off. Don't get me wrong. I still love them and would definately fork out the money to ride in one over other means because they're just so efficient and convenient. You don't realise how fast they're going when you're sitting inside. But when you're standing on the platform and one races by, boy do you feel it. It's insane! You are left speechless and in awe at the speed it rushes past you.

Okay I digress...
When we arrived at the station it was about 9pm and a fair walk to the Villa. Masao asked directions from a girl who had also just got off the train and not only did she tell us where it was, she walked her bike with us all the way! Gotta love the locals.

Cheryl, me (in our yukatas), Pat & Masao

Engrish - not just in Japan. We found this in a Taiwanese Cosmopolitan at the villa.

The very space conserving and innovative toilet... swing the sink around and voila - the toilet!

We headed straight for the onsen and it was exactly what we needed on a Friday night after a long week. The outdoor onsen was so relaxing! The villa overlooks the Asahi River with a backdrop of misty mountains and rice fields. In the morning we hit the onsens again before checking out the local area. It was so nice to be surrounded by lush, rolling mountains, vegetable farms, a flowing river and fields and fields of rice paddies. The rice paddies looked like waves of green oceans, a fresh green carpet being swept and combed by the wind. We visited Yahata Village and it's educational facilities including the Killifish School, Asahi Freshwater Aquarium, Toy Museum and Yoghurt Workshop. The mango yoghurt parfait was perfect for the hot weather.

View of Asahi River from the balcony

Cooling off with our yoghurt drinks and parfaits

We also hiked it to Keikaen Gardens where we had lunch and tea. It was an amazing Japanese garden complete with a small bird zoo. Our waitress at the restaurant even accompanied us and gave us an impromptu guided tour of the gardens. Now that's service!


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