As I mentioned in my DipTESOL post, I have never given up on traveling because of my studies. On the contrary, I study hard and travel hard. I would have felt like a wild animal in a cage otherwise. I respect those who can work on something uninterruptedly, but this isn’t who I am. I am way too curious, spontaneous, and adventurous for that.
It is a miracle that I have been considered a “successful” student all my life. Takashi probably doesn’t know that, but when I was a kid, everyone around me expected me to become “something” and thought I would do “great things” because my school grades were always high.
Forgive me, mom and dad! Forgive me, teachers! Forgive this rascal who has chosen the roads rather than high-paying jobs! How could I say no to the sunsets and stars? How could I look away when mesmerizing mountains call me? What about the solitary beaches? Would it surprise you to hear that my favorite childhood book was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain? Ohh, mom! I should have listened to you the day you said this book was for boys. Look what it has done to me!
I was reciting these lines dramatically in the car on the way to Chizu Town (智頭町). Takashi also knows little about my love for theater and finds my dramatic side infantile. That’s all the more reason for pestering him! We headed to Chizu Town in Tottori Prefecture that day because we wanted to go hiking there.
The roads were full of lovely villages and verdant landscapes. I enjoyed watching the quiet scenery and expressed my wish to live in the countryside again. Takashi knows I am obsessed with rural Japan, a.k.a. inaka (田舎), but living outside big cities isn’t feasible unless we work remotely. We can’t have it all, can we?
We were surprised to see the contrast between the villages and mountains. We arrived at our destination and saw that it was full of snow! Although the entrance was closed, we decided to walk up the hill for a while. There was nobody around, not even a fraction of human sound. Such silence leaves room for imagination and prompts people to ponder their existence and goals.
I don’t know what other couples like, but we don’t want to discuss such subjects in depth during our travels. It’s not because we are incapable of lengthy discussions on human nature—I think our thirst for experiences and staying in the moment rather than analyzing it prevails over our curiosity. When we return home, we can discuss our trips, reminisce, and make new plans.
Promising to come back, we bid farewell to Chizu Town and headed to Sayo Town (佐用町), one of my favorite towns in Hyogo Prefecture. We visited the Japanese monkey park in Sayo Town a while ago and loved the wild ecology there. I didn’t know it is also home to one of Japan’s post towns, as well as a prominent Japanese philosopher!
Once a prosperous post town on the Inaba Highway, Hirafuku District (平福) represents Sayo, with many remnants such as Tatsunoya, a soy sauce brewery that has been around since the Edo period and the site of Miyamoto Musashi’s first duel. Miyamoto was a philosopher and a writer whose most famous book is The Book of Five Rings.
Takashi already knew Miyamoto and his legacy, so he wanted to introduce this town to me. I am glad he did because I had so much fun wandering around the river that divides the town and discovering its lovely houses. Unfortunately, because we went there a bit late, some coffee shops and restaurants were already closed.
Luckily, I am not the kind of person who wallows in self-pity. On the contrary, I enjoy such setbacks more because I can revisit and discover a place more if I can’t do it the first time! And I will go to Sayo Town again because one blog post can’t do justice to its beauty.
Before leaving, I spent some time at Hirafuku Station and its vintage waiting room. Once I entered the room, I felt as if time had stopped. Everything was so old and nostalgic that I ached to go back in time. I don’t know what traveling was like for women in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, though. I “played” in the waiting room for a while and thought, “If I step in this room, I travel forty years back. Now, look, I am outside and back to 2023!”
I know I will not have a time machine now or in the future, but knowing I can return to the old times through quaint towns like this is comforting. Besides, one has got to be careful about what they wish for!
Is there any nostalgic place where you live? Would you like to go back in time?
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