I have mentioned Masai-Sensei before in previous posts; she is somewhat of a lifesaver of mine at school, helping me navigate the various events and administrative tasks that go along with living and working in Japan. She has also become a friend who I have come to rely on and enjoy spending time with, in and out of school. So when the topic of summer plans came up, I casually brought up the idea of going somewhere together and luckily she took to the idea! She organised the whole thing, which I am so grateful for and all I had to do was turn up at the right time at the right station (which I managed to do! haha)
I really had no idea where we were going and what we were going to do, which was a refreshing change as I usually plan out most of my trips to minimise the chance of getting lost (I still get lost regardless, but a little planning helps to reduce the probability of it!) The area of Yamanashi prefecture (山梨県) we were going to is famous for its night sky – the view of the stars at night. It was about a 3 hour train ride all up to the Yatsugatake area(八ヶ岳) and unfortunately the weather was not cooperating with us – it was forecast to rain on and off for our entire stay (I really don’t have the best luck with traveling and the weather, it seems to rain on almost every trip I take. Some might say I am an 雨女- rain woman!) The chances of seeing the stars were not looking good.
After stopping off at the information centre, we headed to this interesting ‘village’ area – Kiyosato Moeginomura, which was established in 1977 and is basically various unique boutique stores, restaurants and cafes spread out throughout the forest. It also has the strangest motto of sorts – ‘Do your best and it must be first class.’
After lunch at the local beer hall/brewery, we had a look around the stores and then had some of the soft serve ice cream famous in the area, as it uses the dairy from local farms.
It was so refreshing to feel cold for the first time in many months as summers in Tokyo are notoriously uncomfortable due to the heat and humidity. As we were near the lower Japan Alps and surrounded by mountains and forests, it was significantly cooler.
We then made our way to the hotel where dinner and breakfast was provided as well as a guided ‘tour’ of the stars.
But as luck would have it, it was cloudy the whole night. However, the hotel staff said there may be a chance of the clouds clearing periodically around midnight. So Masai-sensei and I attempted to stay up til 12am, enjoying some much needed girl talk to pass the time. By the time midnight rolled around, the clouds had not cleared so we called it a night.
We did, however, get a presentation of the stars inside the hotel which was rather impressive
The next day was our sightseeing day. We took this cute tourist bus around the area and stopped at many an interesting spot – it certainly was a stereotypical Japanese holiday as most of the stops revolved around food!
The previous day this lovely gentleman helped plan our entire next day! We met so many lovely people that helped us the whole way – especially the train guards who let us sneak through a number of times as we had the wrong tickets (this is probably mostly due to fact that we were just the right combination of travel companion – Masai Sensei: super cute and me: clueless foreigner)
Our first stop was a lookout point which is a ski resort in the winter. So the only way up was a chairlift – going on it was scarier than it looked!
View from the top – sadly not as impressive due to the clouds, but lovely nonetheless!
Next was a soft-serve stop – the ice-cream was unlike any I have had before. It was so creamy, with the milk sourced from local farms.
Our last sightseeing stop was Doryuno Falls, which was a fair walk from the station. It was so nice to be walking among nature for the first time in a while. The air was so clean and fresh, the trees so luscious and green.
Me being a posing machine!
We had a few hours to kill before catching our train home so we stopped at a local outlet shopping area and did a spot of bargain shopping. It was such a lovely short trip, but a much needed one. Getting out of the city, even if only for a day or so was amazing. It was nice to build relationships out of the work context and I am hopeful that we will go another one of these little trips soon!