26 May 2010

Day 10: Change of Plans

Posted by Roland under: Travel .

There’s nothing like waking up in a big room. You kind of miss that feeling after a week of tiny rooms. Today’s plan was to meet up with Saori early, so we could get a car and drive around a few parts of Shizuoka. The morning started well enough, with me enjoying a free breakfast from the hotel and just loving the fact that I was in a sparsely populated place, far away from the busyness of Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. So here I was, walking through relatively quiet streets (although thank god it was a sunny day in Ito, otherwise me and Saori woud really be screwed) and just enjoying myself away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. I would meet up Saori easily at the station and we then headed off to a rental car place, which unfortunately, happened to be out of cars.

Fine, I remembered there were a few places near the station that also rented cars. Saori was worried about the price so I offered to pay half of the cost but we were happy to see the prices were not too bad. However, once we got to a location, the lady there informed us there wasn’t anything she could do because she couldn’t give a car away to an inexperienced driver, something Saori was just having got her license a few months ago. We worried for a bit on our next step, but we decided to fall on the good old Japan standby, the train.

In a recurring theme, I would miss my train by a minute but we occupied ourselves with planning our now day-by-train. We would head south of Ito to cliffs by the sea, which were framed beautifully with a suspension bridge which provided a great view of the stormy sea, only made more crazy by the insane wind coming towards the land today. We would for the most part, occupy ourselves with walking/climbing around the cliffs and taking pictures while fighting the wind. On the way back to the station after we had our share of cliff climbing, we would find a cafe. A cafe sure, but it actually was run out of a person’s house, when we first opened the door we thought we were coming into someone’s place and almost turned around before someone came and welcomed us inside.

We were treated to a great meal in a very relaxed setting, literally the owner’s backyard garden. We took our time just eating the food and also enjoying some great tea which was brewed with herbs grown in the garden. I was just so relaxed and content after the meal that I pretty much took a quick nap right then and there while Saori was enjoying the sights herself. Our feet finally refreshed we would make it back to the station to see a train we wanted to take just leave (common theme!) before we decided to reverse direction back towards Ito and head north on a different train.

At Futo, the station just north of where we were, our plan was to head for a shrine dedicated to love, as marked by a guide map we recieved from the owner at the cafe we just ate at. But really for the most part, we just wandered aimlessly around the area, even having a local boy try and help guide us. Eventually we would have another local woman lead us to the shrine we were looking for, which much to our chagrin, happened to be where we had already visited (the boy told us to go there) but we had dismissed that shrine as being the one we wanted because it was so tiny and run down looking. Nonetheless, love doesn’t need to be pretty and both me and Saori threw some yen in and made our wishes.

We climbed (and I mean climbed) back to the station, giving up on our plans to visit a beer factory and just take ourselves back to Ito. Once back in Ito, we had one more sight to visit, that of an old famous ryokan in Ito that had closed several years back but modified itself into a museum/bathhouse (baths only on the weekends). We again slowly made our way through the sites, an interesting look into a past Japan. I wondered why it had to close as a ryokan as it was quite a luxurious place in my mind, but we still enjoyed our walk through the place. Afterwards we finally decided it was time to just eat and relax, so we headed to a nearby izakaya (one that Saori wanted to go to yesterday) and drank and ate in the Japanese style I love so much.

I finished my visit with Saori by buying random foods at a nearby convience store, eating and drinking at my hotel room, while watching an hour of Japanese television. I knew my second week in Japan would be relaxing, but I didn’t know I would enjoy it that much. Unfortunately, this is where I would say goodbye to Saori and despite my new desire to just stay in Ito for the rest of my trip, I had made promises to go to Tsuru in the next day so I said a goodbye to her (but I knew I would see her online soon enough) and closed out my most relaxing part of Japan with a late night soak in the public bath.

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