Windows into Rural Japan

Not many people outside of Japan are able to say that they lived in a traditional homestay in the mountains. I feel honoured to be able to share my experience.

These photos were taken in about an hour and a half drive from Kyoto in the mountainous areas. There are still a huge number of people living in mountain villages in beautiful old houses, and they still hold strong traditional values. I wish I could pinpoint on a map where I stayed, but I can’t. The drive from city to where we stayed was winding, mountainous and dense with forest – like something straight out of a fantasy.

Despite living in Wales and having been to Switzerland, these mountains really did take my breath away – I had never imagined such tall steep mountains. It took me a full hour to fully take in where I was. It was like a fairy tale.

This was the kind of meal that my host family would feed me. Food in Japan is separated into smaller bowls instead of having it all on one plate.

This beach is actually on the shore of Lake Biwa, the water was so calm and warm, it actually felt like a tropical paradise!

I must also share this story though; while we were living in the traditional house there was no shower or bath, though we didn’t question it for a couple of days. We were then told that we would be going to a hot spring to get clean, something which for people living in mountain villages is not rare, and a part of Japanese culture. When we arrived at the hot spring, me and my friends jumped into our swimming costumes and rushed to get clean – however – there was a no swim suit policy. Call me a an up-tight Brit, but I was not going to strip off butt naked infront of 50 people, including my friends. Sorry Japan, but that’s a tradition I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for!

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Kyoto – A World of It’s Own