Urban Camping Japan - Week 6
~ Adventure by Ahslynn and Val ~
From Kanazawa, we headed to Senmaida also known as a thousand rice fields flowing into the Sea of Japan. We took a whole day traveling to Wajima, a large city located by Senmaida, so that we could take the earliest bus to the rice fields the next morning. We found a very peaceful and colorful park called the Ipponmatsu Sports Park to camp out in for the night. the next day, we were very happy to have finally made it to the famed fields. They were miraculous and that they were by the Sea of Japan was fantastic, we could not have asked for more.
From there we headed on to Nagano and Matsumoto. In an area by Nagano, Jigokundani Onsen, there are monkeys that regularly bathe in the hot springs. Oh, we enjoyed taking photo after photo of them. Just a typical day at the spa for these wild monkeys!
After speaking with the information center in Matsumoto we found out that there was a local park that hosts firefly festivals. The park was a large mash area with a slow moving stream zig-zagging throughout. Circling the park was a nice paved or boarded walk where you could stroll to view the different areas and groups of fireflies. As the night continued on, it appeared that the fireflies became more and more tired. Tired enough for us to catch a couple and inspect them a little closer. I had only seen one in my life, on the east coast, but it was from a distance, while Mom had never seen one. To be standing in a park that we only paid 300¥ each to enter and be surrounded by hundreds to thousands of these magnificent creatures was dream-like. In Nagano and Matsumoto we camped in two parks that were less than visually appealing compared to many of our other camp spots. In fact, we even landed a spot right out in front of a nice Japanese hotel. But Nevertheless, we were never bothered or asked to leave, and slept like babies in our traveling Nubé house.
We headed to Niigata, were we found some amazing tree huggers. We wanted to visit Niigata so that we could dip our toes into the Sea of Japan. Mom got only her toes wet, while I got swallowed by the Sea. This long cement pier was a whole blast of fun, standing on the sea jacks, playing in the water, and greeting the gentlemen that were surveying the structure, and watching what the fisherman were catching. What better way to enjoy the morning then by experiencing the little, everyday things. We camped in a patch of trees a short walk away from the pier. It was close enough to hear the waves, and stroll back down to the waterside to watch the glorious sunset that evening.
We backpacked into Akita for one special night. Ashlynn's 21st Birthday wasn't until a day after we returned home from our trip, but I wanted to celebrate it with her while in Japan. I had made a sign of small triangles at home on Tyvex that said happy birthday in Japanese, "Tanjoubi Omedetou Ashlynn." I hung the sign along the top of our Nubé. I then purchased little LED lights (flashing different colors) to place in white balloons that then lined the trail to our Nubé as a surprise. I tried keeping it light since I knew I would be carrying it the most of the trip. Many of nights I was just too tired to blow up balloons and set up her birthday scene... but at this park I was able to set up before dark as Ashlynn sat in a gazebo below listening to some music and writing in her journal. I took the moment to decorate our "home" for the night so we could celebrate the fact we were in Japan having a great time, and on her 21st too!
Train stations had become a part of our everyday lives in the last couple of weeks. Akita was one of these stations that we spent a little time in on our way to the next place. You know what they say: it’s not the destination but the journey that matters, or something to that affect. We were enjoying both: the destination and the journey.