Mai Perso - Travel adventures

Hello world! | May 8, 2011

… Before we knew it, a small crowd of 20 villagers surrounded our BMW 1200GS, our travel vehicle of choice. One of them spoke a few English words, hardly enough to communicate, and our Japanese could get us the right Sushi in a restaurant, but not a place to sleep in Gokayama, the Heritage village up in the mountains of Japan.
It was day two of our Japan trip, and we were still trying to understand the local manners.
The hotel we marked on the map, was close for the day. No other hotels available in a significant radius, unless we wanted to track back the 120 mile twisty road down the mountain.
Danielle, took out her iPhone, and started typing into the translator app, who we are and that we were looking for a place to stay.
A couple of toothless smiling old ladies,, read the message in Japanese, and a heated discussion broke out. A couple of minutes later, they pointed out to a house across the street and signaled us to follow them.
A younger lady came out as we approached the door and invited us in. It was getting dark. She told me I can park the bike on the balcony, under the roof, and bring our luggage in.
Shoes off and sandals on, she took us to a guest living room with tatami floor and a fire pit in the center, used for heating and cooking.
A side room with a sliding door, will be our room for the night.
Minutes later, a tea pot was brought in and served to us in small porcelain cups. A welcome aromatic green tea, that calmed our lack of comfort with the intrusion, and got us smiling about the new adventure we got ourselves into.
There is something about letting yourself get lost in a safe environment, that invites situations like this. See the world, meet new people and live to blog about them…
The tea ceremony was interrupted by a noisy group of Japanese art students from Tokyo, that came with their teacher to spend the night at the house. Their teacher, was a journalist who knew the family, and came once a year to visit. This time, he invited a few of his students to join him.
The guests joined us around the fire pit got the tea going and started a conversation. Who are we, how did we get here and why are our plans.
The land lady was sticking skewered fresh fish on bamboo sticks, around the fire, starting what was about to become a culinary feast. Plum wine and beer was served and aromatic rice with grilled fish, accompanied with home pickled cucumbers and Daikon. We were in heaven. Food was simple and great, the company amazing and the alcohol elevating the giggles of the young girls in the group.
One of the girls passed steaming rice bowls around and the group raised them and took the fragrant steam in. All praising the smell for a similar experience for the taste buds. Who would ever think of spending time adoring the rice, prior to the first bite. Oohs and Ahhs followed and chopstick after chopstick, the rice was consumed. The last BBQd fish was swimming in a large container with warm Sake, and passed around the room. Each one of us took a sip and the combination was surprisingly tasty.
Before we were ready to crawl into our beds that were set for us on the Tatami, the journalist, asked if we wanted to join them to a stroll through the village, to appreciate the moon and it’s reflection in the rice fields. We did. It was a perfect ending to a magical day. We found new friends, got a first true taste of local tourism and were allowed to participate in an experience reserved for locals. The moon and it’s reflection in the Gokayama rice field, promised an amazing adventure in the week to come.

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