Ben Ungermann in Japan – part 2
Now for part 2 of my wonderful Japan trip (see part 1 here):
After eating my fill of the freshest seafood it was time to explore more of the natural beauty in Onomichi. I took a rope car to the top of the mountain to visit Senkoji temple, which is actually 25 smaller temples combined to make an entire complex of them. With just a little extra effort, I climbed up a rock face to get a breathtaking view from higher up. On the way down, the path is littered with boulders inscribed with poems and literature, a true testament to the Japanese making everything part of a story.
Kurashiki and Kojima
Then it was back on the road to Kurashiki! I arrived and had the pleasure of being taught how they make Murasuzume, a Japanese style crepe filled with a sweet bean paste, and eating it was even more delicious! While exploring the area I found out that Kurashiki acted as a trade route during the shoguns and a large number of the canals still remain. The boutique stores also had some very interesting artefacts which I picked up to bring back with me.
Upon my arrival into Okayama they asked if I wanted to put on a traditional kimono while I strolled through the gardens, and I could not have been more comfortable while I took in the peaceful serenity of this exquisite and immaculate gardens. The team at Cha Cha Kimono fit me to perfection and I loved it so much, I took it home with me. Another refreshing green tea before I headed off on the next leg of my tour.
Back to Kojima in Kurashiki to experience the Betty Smith Jeans Museum, where they have been making premium, made-to-order jeans for many years. I was taken around to see the inner workings of the factory and I even got to make my own key ring to bring home with me. Then I got to hit up Jeans Street which is a funky little area with stores dedicated to just denim. My favourite store was owned by one of my favourite characters so far on my trip, a quirky Japanese man who had dedicated his entire life to his original twists on denim.
The next day was my favourite day in Japan. I went to the Nakano Udon School, where I graduated top of my class with the teacher electing my udon as the best. Oishii!
After udon school I had the opportunity to visit Kotohira Shrine (known as Konpira-san), with the uphill trip being over 800 steps. Along the hike, the scenery weaves through the hills with stone lanterns and engraved boulders that add to the majestic view. What a refreshing and invigorating experience.
Each time I get to see a new sight it blows me away, and Angel Beach was no exception. Pristine blue water, natural rock formations and moss covered rock pools must be why it got its name.
The stop at Angel Beach was followed by a delicious lunch at Kankakei, with their special olive beef. The cows have a diet which consists mainly of olives and it was truly scrumptious.
I also had lots of fun pretending to be a professional sauce maker – soy sauce, such an integral part of Japanese cuisine. I visited both the Marukin and also the Yamaroku factories too and I was absolutely blown away by the quality and the taste. They also had soy sauce ice cream as well!
We stopped by Shodoshima Island which is famous for its produce, especially its olives.
Next stop was to board a ferry to Takamatsu. Here, I visited Ritsurin Gardens, which took over 100 years to complete. The landscaping has been so very well thought out and the architecture in Japan never ceases to amaze me. The ponds are brimming with magnificent koi and are not frightened of people in the slightest. I then had the pleasure of partaking in a ceremonial powdered green tea while observing the beauty of the gardens – such a peaceful end to a wonderful day.
The last hours in Japan were spent at Tower Knives in Osaka, where I purchased a hand crafted knife from a Master Knife Polisher who has been creating them for over 50 years. I had my name carved in Japanese on the blade, which will remind me of this beautiful country I have fallen in love with.
The biggest of thanks to Qantas and JNTO for this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime adventure and much love to this truly astonishing country, Japan. I will return for more adventures soon!
Don’t miss out on creating your own adventure. Qantas is now flying direct Sydney to Osaka Japan, operating three-times per week*. Qantas also has daily flights between Sydney and Tokyo Haneda, in addition to flights from Melbourne and Brisbane to Tokyo Narita.