Trip , 21st-22nd , Nov , 2020.
In November 2020, at the peak of the fall season, members of HdB took a two-day trip to the mountains of Asago, in Hyogo Prefecture, where we enjoyed nature and strengthened our bonds, all while facing adventures together.
Three cars departed from HdB on the morning of Saturday 21st, carrying 12 residents, our watchful House Mother Aya Murakami (don’t forget the name, Dennis), and supplies for our trip, including food, drinks and a soccer ball that we almost left behind.
The most proficient drivers we could ask for, Jason, Haku and Dennis, took us safely and with chronometric precision to our destinations. We made a first stop to pick our lunch in Kameoka and had a second stop at the delightfully-named roadside station (道の駅), Grandma’s village (おばあちゃんの里), to enjoy it. There was a parking spot where we could arrange some tables and benches away from the crowds, under the midday sun.
Our break: Grandma’s village
We arrived around 4pm at our overnight stay, a lovely and warm house with a helpful and warmer host. We were in the middle of nowhere, however, and only our drivers know exactly where we spent that night. Luckily, the sunlight was suitable for a small hike into the surrounding forest so we hastened to settle and depart into the wild. We were only 30 minutes into ‘mother nature and chill’ when we decided to turn back because 1) it was getting dark, and 2) we were on private property and someone politely kicked us out.
TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED
Because we were stinky and there was only one bathroom, some of us decided to visit a nearby onsen before dinner, so we split the group into the clean team and the team that cooked. The clean team took 2 cars with them, the cooking team washed their hands, they say.
Some of us were shamelessly sweaty.
And then we all feasted like kings and queens. Four delightful types of nabe were available so all of us could enjoy it. We asked for doubles, we made some toasts, we laughed and danced, we played Shakira en español. And soon after we went to bed, at around 10pm, because our next adventure required us to pack and leave the house by 5am, which we surprisingly achieved. This made the organizers proud despite they were the ones who overslept.
A beautiful view of the stars, a rare sight in oh-so-densely populated Japan. We were truly in the middle of nowhere.
Full of hope and energy, these cheapos reached the free parking lot at the base of the mount Asago (朝来山) at 6 am. We walked for 45 minutes until we reached the actual entrance of the hiking trail, which took 30 more minutes of exercise. Why would we do something like that? Because we are young, daring and we love sightseeing, obviously. Also, the mount Asago is known to offer a view of the Takeda castle ruins, also referred to as the “Machu Picchu of Japan”, which was rumored to be “floating in the clouds” on that day. Thus we did our best, having the promise of this beautiful once-in-a-lifetime view ahead.
So it was a bit painful when our view didn’t include any clouds or fog at all. The sight was beautiful and worthy of the effort, however the “floating in the clouds” experience was apparently reserved for luckier people. Such is life: you either lower your expectations or you deny reality and edit your pictures.
Denied reality: Images by Dennis and Haku, both avid deniers/photoshop users.
We headed back to the cars, sleepy and hungry but satisfied for sure. Once there, Narumi distributed some bananas to all, in a selfless act of kindness. For these starving hikers, one banana represented a tropical ambrosia that was devoured with tropical passion, specially by our tropical doctor. Thank you so much, bananas.
After a quick stop at a convenience store where we shamelessly ate the breakfast we bought in another convenience store, we continued our trip of the day towards Kinosaki Onsen. That was a beautiful town that we will never forget because of the scenery, the delicious treats we had and the fact that we were boiled alive.
We were not tired at all (in Jason we trust).
We went back to HdB on that same afternoon, making a couple more stops for lunch and rest. Upon arrival at HdB, cars were returned and drivers were discharged with honors. We are extremely thankful to them and to the sponsors of this trip, which allowed us to grow a little closer together, and a little more trusting in one another. Enjoying this side of Japan with so many nationalities and personalities was an amazing experience we will all carry with us for a lifetime.
Dennis and Randolph Ruiz