This is my 6th field studies, every year we visit a new place with a different adventure, a different experience, and a different story. I think that field studies is a chance for us to explore more of the Japanese culture. This is my first time traveling to Iya and also knowing about this place.
Iya is one of Japan’s Three Hidden Valleys, it is known for the dramatic mountain scenery, traditional homes and vine bridges. I also learned that it was a hiding place for the fleeing samurai of the defeated Heike clan from centuries past.
This trip was an adventure and also a challenge, especially because I am not so use to be living in a place with so little population. Quietness and nature was all around us every second, very different from the city.
The most memorable part of this trip was the stay at the top of Tsurugisan and the hike down. The scenery from the top was so beautiful, it was absolutely staggering, it almost looked heavenly. It was like we were standing on an island surrounded by a great sea of clouds. The air was so fresh and crisp, although I have to say that I was freezing, I think everyone was freezing. So cold! I was regretful that I did not bring more layers. Not minding the cold temperature, I still insisted to go see the stars that night. The wind was whirling so hard, it almost knocked me over a few times! As I reached the star watching spot someone was shouting through the wind “OMG! We are in the clouds!”. I looked around, it was amazing! We all lay down in a row, one next to another and looked at the stars. I was enjoying this moment so much that my shivers went away. As we all lay still chatting and enjoying the stars and the loud wind. Before we realised the fog and clouds surrounded us, you couldn’t even see the edge of the mountain anymore! It was like I was in a dream or a mysterious place. I could never forget this moment. The hike down the next day was an adventure. The route was much more intense than hiking up. We actually walked over mountains and crossed rivers. It kind of felt like we were on some kind of survival trip. The hike felt like forever at that time, but when we finished I still couldn’t believe we finished the hike.
Also, the very kind people there who we met along the trip. The last day was as well a very meaningful day, it was a cultural day where we experienced making soba from scratch, visiting a traditional thatch-roofed house, rope making out of straw and not to mention the delicious meal which includes the soba made by ourselves. Every minute made this a memorable trip. Not only I got to explore a new place, but I also adopt skills and got the chance to really understand my friends more.