My 6th field studies, I still remember that very night before the trip I could barely hold the excitement in bed. I stared at the ceiling for hours knowing I only had little time for sleep before I had to get up again to ride the car to the station.
October 19th 2015
I pulled my heavy luggage packed with warm clothes and carried another whole bag dedicated for snacks and drinks for the train ride. When we reached Oboke station after our very long ride on the Shinkansen and the local Anpanman train (which was a total dream come true!), I immediately felt the warm welcoming sunshine and straight away I knew I was going to miss the sunshine and the warmth up on the mountains.
From there, we took another bus ride up the curvy narrow rode to our cabins. I was extremely tired at that point and I fell asleep immediately. We pulled our luggage across a long bridge where down below was a clear river that sent cool breeze with massive rocks that surrounded. Every step I took, I prayed to God; “Please let me live” – I at least wanted to finish hiking up the mountains.
When my roommates and I first opened the cabin door, we were welcomed by a huge spider which apparently no one really appreciated and to be honest, I didn’t either. On the very first day, I lost my voice. ↓
We were eventually somehow able to ignore its existence and the first night in the cabins finished with lots of smiles and laughter. That night, my roommates and I and a few others got to prepare dinner for the group and we made a pot of yummy white stu with bowls full of chopped up veggies It was perfect for the freezing cold night where we all curled up in our sweaters and jackets.
It was our very first hiking day I was a little nervous especially because I’m not the most fit and I was afraid of the fact that I was finally revealing the very unfit body of mine to everyone. But I was filled more with excitement not only about the hike itself but the feeling of accomplishment later on.
Hiking up the mountains was an exceptionally beautiful adventure I realise we only recognise and appreciate how amazing it is to be surrounded by nature in the Inaka until we’re actually there. No photos or stories do good job there unfortunately. The hike was not as bad as I thought and although I faced countless near-death experiences, I was proud of myself and everyone else that we all reached the very top with no accidents. Knowing that the mountain we were climbing was the second tallest mountain in Shikoku (and the height difference from the first tallest one being only 40 metres), I felt even more accomplished and I was so happy to have chosen to go on this trip!
Our stay on the mountain top was most memorable. I especially enjoyed the star gazing at night in the freezing air with our 5 layers of clothing. Although it was extremely windy and the cold I had wasn’t helping, it was worth the 15 minutes spent outside. The food was divine and the warm tea they served was perfect when coming back inside from the freezing air. Although I’m used to a lot of Japanese food, the food they served there was a whole new level and nothing like the food my mum always makes. Not only was everything so delicious but it was also so beautifully presented and it’s one of the many things I love about the Japanese culture. Aesthetics is very important in the Japanese culture, not only when serving food, and I think it shows so well the care and love the Japanese show 🙂
The day started with shivers and it took me 30 minutes to get out of the futons. My feet was ice-cold and my cold had got worse. But as soon as I stepped out of the building, I was amazed. The clouds covered the view below and the beaming light of the orange roundness shone strong. This day, we hiked down the mountain while walking across a few other mountains in between. It felt very long and the hike was a lot more difficult. Every time I slipped, my heart raced and I eventually found myself tearing up wanting to get down already. But my friends were very encouraging and every time I apologised for walking too close and stepping onto their shoes, before anything else, they asked me if I was alright. It warmed my heart more than anything and there I knew I was surrounded by amazing people. 🙂
When we finally got down, I felt relieved that I didn’t end up dying on the mountains. I was so excited to go back home and share the experience with my mum and dad.
We spent this day exploring the more cultural side of Japan. We made soba from scratch, made a rope out of straws, and visited the 300 year old Chiiori house, purchased by Alexx Kerr who runs the NPO Chiiori Trust.
The soba making was my favorite part of the day. Although this was my 3rd time making soba, this time, I enjoyed it the most because all the work was done by ourselves instead of in groups. I usually never got to touch the soba and always just watched from behind and this was the very first time I got to do all of it by myself and I had so much fun! 🙂
Once all of our sobas were boiled, they were served for lunch along with a few other traditional Japanese dishes. They were delicious and it felt like heaven! The people working there were so friendly, warm and smiley and every time they would talk to me, I felt more than happy. I remember all the conversations we had but my favourite out of all was when one of the ladies asked me if I was an Indian actress!
It was extremely difficult saying goodbye to Iya and all the amazing people there. This trip was probably the most memorable out of all the school trips I’ve ever had. I had the most peaceful time there and I miss all the smiley faces. The train ride home was spent sleeping – I was tired than ever and the ride felt very short compared to the first day. I was happy to be back home but also missed the quiet Inaka a lot.
I always thought school trips lacked a lot in teaching students to learn to take responsibilities even when we were in the perfect environment to be able to do so but the Iya trip was different. We really were expected to take responsibility and that made the trip even more fun! 🙂