Japan
Tokushima

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9 travelers at this place:

  • Day3

    Erstes Training

    August 20, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Im ersten Training wurden wir sehr herzlich von den Japanern empfangen. Dazu war sogar das Japanische Fernseherteam vor Ort und hat eine Reportage über unsere letzten Vorbereitungen gezeigt. Dafür wurden Igor und ich interviewt. Am nächsten Tag war Katha sogar auf der Titelseite der Regionalen Zeitung in Tokushima. Man ist hier in Japan mehr Star als in Deutschland 😅Read more

  • Day10

    Shikoku

    September 11, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Shikoku, die kleinste der Hauptinseln, ist unser nächstes Ziel. Raus aus der Stadt, rein in die Natur. Zumindest haben wir das vorher so gelesen - und es bestätigt sich voll und ganz.

    Nachdem wir das Hostel in Kyoto, das uns sehr gut gefallen hat, verlassen haben, steigen wir am Hauptbahnhof in den Zug. Je näher wir dem Ziel kommen, desto kleiner werden die Bahnhöfe und die Orte. Die letzten Kilometer führt die Bahnlinie direkt oberhalb der Oboke-Schlucht entlang,mit schönen Ausblicken auf den Fluss.
    Angekommen in Awa-Kawaguchi werden wir am Bahnhof schon erwartet. Zwei Mitarbeiterinnen des Guest House Momonga, in dem wir 2 Nächte bleiben, holen uns mit dem Auto ab. Sie fahren uns zuerst zum Supermarkt (das hatten sie uns empfohlen) und dann zum Guest House. Das liegt recht einsam oberhalb des Flusses. Wunderschön ruhig und ein totaler Kontrast zu den Städten.

    Den restlichen Tag verbringen wir mit einem kurzen Spaziergang und einem japanischem Abendessen, in der Unterkunft, leckeres Teriyaki Chicken.
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  • Day11

    So weit das Leihrad uns trägt

    September 12, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Heute entscheiden wir uns gegen Rafting und für die Fahrräder. Das Guest House stellt diese für kleines Geld zur Verfügung.

    Glücklicherweise ist es etwas bewölkt und die Luftfeuchtigkeit nicht ganz so hoch wie gestern. Perfektes Radfahr-Wetter.

    Wir hatten uns gestern Abend noch ein paar Tipps geben lassen und daraus eine kleine Rundtour zusammengestellt. Mit einigen Höhenmetern, die doch an unseren Kräften zehren. Aber es lohnt sich. Wahnsinnsausblicke in die Oboke-Schlucht. Ein Männeken Pis gibt's hier auch.
    Und der Weg zurück führt mindestens eine Stunde lang ausschließlich bergab die Hänge der Schlucht entlang, auf asphaltierter Straße, die wunderbar zu fahren ist. Allein dafür hat sich der Aufstieg gelohnt.

    Am Abend entspannen wir im Guest House und essen dort ein japanisches Curry.
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  • Day665

    Off the beaten path...or the entire path

    July 7, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Welp, I managed to accomplish my goal of getting away from the crowds....a little too good. When we were planning this trip, I wasn't keen on being sequestered in stifling cities at the peak of summer. So, I looked for places that were supposedly quieter (a la Kanazawa, the sleepy town of 400k...lolol) and a little more rural. And by god, did I get it. Oops.

    Today was spent traveling from Kanazawa to the Iya Valley. It was supposed to be a few train rides and then a car rental at the train station. The Iya Valley was touted on the internet as an incredible, majestic, serene, off-the-beaten path destination. It was the destination of choice for fleeing, defeated lords across the centuries as a place to hide out after their exile so they wouldn't be killed by the new reigning leaders. That's how remote this place used to be. However, the internet assured me it was so totally worth it and renting a car was no big deal right there at the Awa-Ikeda train station.

    I even did my research and learned that to rent a car or drive in Japan, you need an International Driver's License. You cannot get one of these in Japan. You must obtain one in your home country before departing. I had Jonathan fill the form, take his passport-sized photos, and get all officially licensed up before we left. (Igloolik does not offer these services, so I was not able to get my IDP).

    The internet assured me that even though the roads were single car width through the mountains, a foreigner not used to driving on that side of the road would be fine. So, I told Jonathan he'd be fine driving in unfamiliar mountain roads on the left. He appreciated that I volunteered him for this. :)

    I had even booked a full service hotel replete with dinner service because the internet explained that food services were hard to come by in this isolated corner of Japan.

    We were totally prepared. We had this nailed. Imagine my surprise when we flounce off the train at our car-rental-designated train station and discovered from the tourism lady, in broken English, that there were NO rental cars at all there. Not even a company that was closed. No. Nothing. She didn't even know what I was talking about with car rentals--we were those crazy tourists with completely wrong information. I was flabbergasted. The Interwebs had failed me! Thus far, Japan had been a demonstration of silky smooth efficiency. I was not prepared for any wrenches in my plans. This wasn't like traveling in Africa where every plan needed 6 alternative plans cause no plan is a real plan.

    The lady could see we were pretty much at a loss as to what to do. She took pity on us and called the nearest car rental agency, which was 40 min by train back the way we had just come. It was a moot point anyhow because they didn't have any cars either.

    There should have been some signs along the way that we were leaving the well traveled path....the decreasing tourists at each station. The dwindling occupancy in our train car. We didn't bother to notice them.

    We gathered ourselves and began figuring our what we were gonna do. The tourism lady told us that there were buses to near our hotel. She told us to get back on the train and continue riding it down to where the buses would pick us up. We needed to hurry because there was only one bus left and we would need to be on the next train to get it. Otherwise, we'd be stranded right where we were. Super.

    We got our tickets, hustled on the train and arrived at the train station where the buses passed. It was a one-room train station. We had to cross the train tracks, in fact, to get to the station. This was a far cry from the multi-level, multi-city block train stations around Tokyo.

    We consulted with the androgynous attendant and she/he somehow conveyed that the bus would come. My trust now broken, I went out and read and reread the bus timetable sign about 7 times to convince myself that we were not, in fact, now stranded in an even smaller town with no transportation or places to stay.

    However, Japanese dedication to timeliness and consistency showed once again when the completely empty bus pulled up and Jonathan and I got on as the only riders. We looked at each other and nodded. Mission accomplished. We have, apparently, left all civilization whatsoever in this densely forested steep valley.

    Our ride was incredible and breathtaking. The roads I read about online were, indeed, only one lane despite there being 2-way traffic. Smaller vehicles would have to back down and away from our lumbering, careening bus. After about 40 minutes of riding on the snaking roads (I mean, if you're bored, check out Google maps for the roads--switchback central over here), we arrived at the bus stop.

    We were the only folks there besides a few vendors selling ice cream and meat to invisible patrons. We got an ice cream to fortify us for our next leg of the journey. What was supposed to be a relaxing day of train and then private car travel was turning into a 12 hr marathon of trains, buses, and now, our feet. We humped our backpacks and started walking to where we were shown, on a map, our hotel should be. The problem with most maps, is that they are not topographical. With topography, at least you can mentally prepare for what lies ahead. But not with regular, run of the mill, maps. Nope, your route to your hotel looks like a jaunty little caper down the road when in fact, it's a slog up a 20% grade in 90% humidity.

    The best blessing came when we made it to our hotel, an authentic Japanese ryokan, and were shown to our room and I saw a gleaming, fierce air conditioner mounted right above the sleeping area. Yes Maam!!

    We finished our day by rinsing the sweat and travel off of us just in time to make it downstairs for dinner, wearing our authentic Japanese grass sandals. Dinner was a culinary field trip consisting of about a dozen courses. I honestly lost count. All I know is there were about 29 little dishes that had to be carted away. Jonathan and I were so hungry that the full fish with head and eyeballs included did nothing to sway our eager stabbing with the chopsticks to get at its flesh. Have you ever tried eating a whole fried fish with chopsticks?
    So many different, interesting flavors. I may have dropped the ball on the rental car and backup plan, but I nailed it by making sure we had dinner when we arrived! Whew!

    Now, on to the exploration of this Iya Valley with no car.
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  • Day666

    A bridge made of vines

    July 8, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Given that we had no car, our exploration plans had to be adjusted somewhat. Our ryokan was very near a famous bridge in the Iya Vally called the Kazurabashi bridge. It is made of vines. These bridges, of which there used to be 13, which crisscrossed the remote, misty gorges of the Iya Valley allowed fleeing bandits to cross the gorge while easily cutting them down to make it impossible to reach them. No one really knows when or why the bridges were built. The theory about fleeing bandits and refugees is supported by the fact that many defeated warriors fled to this valley to escape persecution. The other theory is more supernatural and offers that Kobo-Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddahism, created the bridges.

    Now there are only 3 remaining bridges. Because of the ole car debacle, we could not reach the bridges I most wanted to see, but it turns out I was fine with this because the Kazurabashi bridge, at 150 ft long and 4 1/2 stories above the water with planks set 8 inches apart was enough for me. I don't really care that much for heights and having to cross this swaying vine bridge was wreaking havoc on my anxious, nauseous tummy. If I wasn't in public, I probably would have belly-crawled across. But, pride made me suck it up and pretend I was uber-cool and chill when I was quaking in my boots. While I was reading about these bridges, one crosser was quoted as saying, "You never think a vine bridge is that scary until you cross one and shit a brick."

    Yep.
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  • Day666

    Violating property and privacy

    July 8, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Now at the mercy of the bus timetable, Jonathan and I had to reevaluate our plans for the Iya Valley. I had so wanted to drive to Mt. Tsurgi, a hikeable mountain with unspoiled vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys. There was a bus that was supposed to go there. But, yep, you guessed it...that bus was not running the week we were there. We learned very quickly that when it's low tourist season in Tokyo, that means there is NO ONE out in the Iya Valley. lol.
    So, no bus to the mountain I wanted to see. The running buses were limited and spaced far apart so that if you missed yours back to your hotel, you would likely be staying overnight wherever you happened to be. So, "let's go exploring!", we said enthusiastically ignoring what might happen if we didn't understand the bus schedule or it was not running for some reason.

    We decided to take the bus to what was touted as an authentic hillside village that has roots going back in history over a thousand years, the Ochiai Village. Tour groups apparently offer tours of this little village, but the map and internet assured us that exploring it on foot was doable. In fact, that was part of the beauty the blogs and reviews said...."use the traditional footpaths etched throughout the mountainside that locals have used for centuries to traverse up and down the steep hillside". Excellent. There are paths.

    We catch the bus and journey even further into the Iya Valley. Meeting vehicles along the way and sending them in reverse to eek over to a spot wide enough for our bus to pass. Again, we were the only 2 people on the entire, full-sized bus. It turns out that we were, apparently, touristing alone in Japan. lololol.

    Forty minutes later we reach a nondescript spot on the road near a cluster of buildings. This is our bus stop. I search for a bus sign so I can find this unmarked "bus stop" for our return. There is a rusty sign that marks our spot. There are no sidewalks. The homes are right against the single lane road. It is dead as disco. For once, there are no maps or signs in Japan. We stand together, swiveling our heads around, looking completely like the ill-informed, lost tourists that we are. My kind of travel.....where are we? where do we go? where is this so-called "traditional village"?

    I read it was up the mountain so I figured we should try to go "up the mountain". Jonathan was less impressed with this plan. But, given that there were no signs or depots for lost travelers like ourselves, I figured we had nothing to lose. I mean, you can't get lost.....just head back down the hill. lol. As we started walking along the road, trying to decide on the best point of entry to "up the mountain", I saw a clear stone path leading up, between two homes. This was it! The traditional paths! Jonathan then explained that this could also be the path to the two homes...which were nestled a foot from either side of the path. The "path" definitely didn't look like a path for the foreign visitors. I conceded that he could be right, but hey, why not try it! Maybe we'll end up in someone's kitchen and they will feed us! Wouldn't that be awesome?! To me, it was a win-win.

    We embarked on the uneven, rock path and soon discovered a plaque that confirmed we were, indeed, on the traditional paths! Ha! I knew it! And, yet again, Japan didn't let me down with their signs! lolol.

    We continued on but the "path" deteriorated and even I wasn't sure if we were on the path or in someone's yard. As we zig-zagged our way "up the mountain", there was no doubt that we entered people's yards because when you have to step on their back porch to travel "the path", you're pretty certain you're not on "the path" anymore. We scurried across the private property like cockroaches aiming for the dark. I employed the "keep your head down so that if you can't see them, they can't see you scientific strategy".

    Every once in a while we'd see a little plaque somewhere and we'd beeline toward it so that we could be sure we got back on "the path".

    Our exploration was basically us walking through people's daily lives. It was like a living heritage museum, but the people in the museum were not paid actors. We saw how subsistence farming and cultivation was occurring on these silly steep hills. We saw the fireplaces and cooking areas. We saw the people tending their flowers, their wash, and their gardens. Scattered throughout were old, restored thatch-roof houses that appeared to serve as rest areas. We sat at these and let the humidity envelope us, silently begging for the clouds to open up and give us some reprieve. We were walking up this mountain, in the heat of the day, with the air heavy with humid moisture. I am no longer accustomed to that. It was like stepping back to Tennessee. Poor Jonathan has no tolerance of heat, and more importantly, sweating. Even when I was working in arid, dry Idaho and he visited, he could barely stand the sweating. At the first moment of sweating, his desire is to stop and cool down. Summer in Japan means the humidity makes it feel like you've taken a shower, not dried yourself, and then put all your clothes back on. So, any time we stopped, Jonathan quickly began pulling off all the clothes he could...shoes, socks, shirts....anything to alleviate the sweating. The only two things I've seen ruffle the man are: sweating and having his legs crushed by the reclined seat in front of him on a long-haul flight.

    After we'd absorbed all the culture we could stand, we started heading back down. That was our day. Up the mountain and back down. No other tourists. No lines. No urban sounds besides the occasional vehicle making its way up or down the mountain on the single road. (We took that road back down in accordance with Jonathan not having the desire to wade through knee-high grass and slippery slopes. I think he was over "the path". lolol).

    We arrived back to the bus sign and sat waiting, alone. We saw the school bus come, drop its kid cargo, and other tides of life occurring around us the little village. While it wasn't Mt. Tsurgi, it was awesome to see untouched Japanese life and culture operating without perturbation.

    When the bus came, we climbed aboard wearily, and again, had our private bus shuttle take us back to Kazurabashi stop, the only 2 people aboard.

    We had another evening of incredible food at the ryokan. Another 4000 course meal replete with our fried whole fish that I decimated, again, with chopsticks. We arranged to have the hotelier take us to the bus stop in the morning as we get set to begin the marathon journey from Shikoku island to Hokkaido island in the north. Most people fly there, but we have this sweet bullet train pass so why not spend the next 18 hours on a train??!
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  • Day5

    Letztes Training

    August 22, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Heute war das letzte mal Randori vor der WM. Es lief schon viel besser als am Tag davor. Man merkt noch, dass es in Deutschland erst 4 Uhr morgens ist, wenn man auf der Matte steht und seine erholte Gegnerin anschaut 😅 doch dafür sind wir ja so früh angereist. Nun geht es morgen weiter nach Tokio 👏🏼

You might also know this place by the following names:

Tokushima-ken, Tokushima, 徳島県, 도쿠시마 현

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