Aizu . Dec 2017

The journey to the most beautiful place on earth.

19.12.2017

Aizu, Japan

Kitakata

Aizu-Wakamatsu

Nanukamachi

Aizubange

Nikko to Aizu

From Nikko to Aizu is a long long long way, around a 6 hour ride because Aizu is just that inaccessible even by Shinkansen. Shinkansen only gets to Utsunomiya and thereafter you have to take the local trains which are pretty slow but it’s definitely worth the ride! Especially in winter when the weather outside the train windows changes every hour – from sunny to snowy, from brown to a beautiful sheet of white.

As usual, I woke up at 5am in the morning and the sun was already up. Apparently, I fell asleep at 8pm the previous night watching Naruto on my mobile. Packed my bag, bidded goodbye to the accoms, took one last photo of the front door with a Santa statue outside and started making my way down the mountain (for the last time) to Nikko train station to take the Nikko line to Utsunomiya. From Utsunomiya, I changed two local lines to get to Aizu area (because I used the JR pass and this was the only free way to get to Aizu). For the whole journey from Utsunomiya, I was so amazed by how fast the colours outside the train windows change. As the train moves up to a higher altitude, the denser the fog, the heavier the snow, the more white it becomes, the more beautiful it is.

What I found most beautiful is the way the colour changes. When I finally reached the local line towards Aizu-Wakamatsu/Kitakata, I couldn’t see any brown at all. Nikko wasn’t snowing, it was still brown, you could even see green, although it was already hella cold there. Towards to Aizu area along the mountain tracks, everything I see is white, white, white and more white. Snow, snow and more snow. Fog, fog and more fog. Looks like Europe somehow, looks like I was going to visit Santa! I have never seen such thick snow ever in my life that’s why I was so fascinated. Do you know that Aizu has the highest level of snowfall in Japan? And it’s always snowing there. When my local airbnb host in Aizu area told me that, I double assured myself that this long trip to Aizu is worth it, and that bearing the extreme cold in Aizu (I haven’t got to Korea yet so I didn’t know what extreme meant HAHA) is also worth it too.

I was still debating on whether I should visit Kitakata on the local train towards Aizu-Wakamatsu/Kitakata. Kitakata is around three stops away from Aizu-Wakamatsu? And I saw on a lot of website which recommended to go to Kitakata – but I was worried that I didn’t have a connecting train to Aizu-Wakamatsu early enough for me get to Aizu-Bange (where my airbnb is).

FYI: I really had a hard time planning the cheapest way possible to go to and stay in Aizu. There weren’t many options available because Aizu is such a rural area and I really wanted to stay in a local’s house especially in such an area – just to have a taste of what it feels like to live in rural Japan. I dismissed the idea of booking a hotel, because of the local experience and also because I wanted to save some money. I was a poor university student who bombed almost all her internship pay for this one month trip to Japan and Korea.

Kitakata

I still decided to go to Kitakata in the end, knowing that there’s a train that I can take to Aizu-Wakamatsu and Aizu-Bange (where my airbnb is – a rural area and very far away from the train station). Initially I asked my airbnb host if I could walk from the station to the house. I googled it takes around 1.5h. But he dismissed that idea, I believe he must have thought I’m crazy because who the hell wants to walk in this heavy snow and when temperatures are sub zero in the evening. LOL. Oh, I think I have yet to mention that the trains in Aizu area are so infrequent that they only come once in a few hours. So once you miss the train, it’s gone. I don’t even know how I can make my way to the accoms in this terribly cold and wet winter carrying my 12kg backpack. TBH I didn’t know what I was doing for the whole time I was wondering around Japan with a damnit heavy backpack in my down jacket and my heavyass bagpack. Looking back, I must be one crazy woman. It was legit terribly cold. Nikko was -7 degrees, but it doesn’t rain/snow. In Aizu, it’s -4 degrees and it rains/snows… so bad… everything is just very sad and cold and… HAHA. I don’t know how to describe it.

Initially when I first reached Kitakata, it wasn’t snowing. The sky was fine and I even went to the Kitakata tourism office to get some brochures and the staff actually gave me some snacks as a welcome gift! Awesome~ The moment I stepped outside the train station, it started to snow. TBH I was really excited that it started snowing because I was waiting for Japan to snow, the moment I stepped into Tokyo but there was no snow until I reached Kitakata. That was the first snow I saw in a long long time. The previous time I saw snow… was when I was in Europe, Krakow. And yes, I did whip out my phone to record a video of the snow – although the snow can’t really be seen in the video. HAHA.

The best thing about Kitakata is that, the town is dead. I was expecting some shops to be open. And obviously only A FEW were. And those few were those selling really obiang (old-fashioned) clothes. Kitakata just gave me this very retro feeling and it seems like that town lacked young blood. Until I walked into a ramen shop (I believe it’s a popular local chain because almost everyone, including high school students, were going there for Kitakata ramen).

From an online search I knew I had to eat Kitakata ramen, so I googled and found one shop to be open and has a good rating. So I walked in the snow to the shop which was at least 20mins away from the train station. I quickly covered my backpack in the waterproof cover, took out my umbrella and begun my journey.  The snow turned into rain and it was just wet and miserable. Took me hella long to get to the ramen shop because the roads were blocked because of the snow. They even had traffic officers / volunteers along the roads in the huge snow just to direct traffic. Respect.

On my way to the ramen shop, I passed by a shop which was usually open during the season. Apparently they sell cream mochi – really nice ones. Even though they didn’t understand English, I used google translate to find out which flavours they have for the mochi fillings. I bought matcha, ramen (this was super nice!), original flavours.

Aizu-Wakamatsu

After having ramen, I realise there was nothing much to do in Kitakata because the shops were closed, so I bought a Kitakata ramen cup to bring back home as a souvenir, then caught the next train to Aizu-Wakamatsu. The only station which would bring me to Aizu-Bange, and I have already set a time with Yoshi’s mom – Tatzuko to pick me up from Aizu-Bange station. And because I really wanted to see Tsuruga-jo. TBH I was almost at panic state when I reached Aizu-Wakamatsu because it started snowing, and I didn’t know how to get around the town, and also I . All I knew was, there’s a tourist bus to bring people around. I walked around the train station for a good 10 minutes before walking out into the snow, to realise that the city tour bus ticketing booth was outside. I spent another 10 minutes deciding if I had time before the next train to Aizubange comes. It was really hard to decide because the trains are so infrequent – so I had to match the time I spend in Aizu-Wakamatsu touring with the next train that comes. After a quick mental plan, I decided to go for the tour bus and get off at Nanukamachi – which is along the same line as Aizubange – Tadami line.

It was like a miracle that I made things work out within such a short time at Aizu-Wakamatsu. Because initially I didn’t even plan to go to Kitakata, but I did went there and I totally didn’t regret that decision as I got to eat Kitakata ramen. When I was hesitant to tour Aizu-Wakamatsu in the huge snow, I did it anyway because I was already there – and the time I have in Aizu was so short. I didn’t regret carrying my 12kg backpack around in that huge snow too.

So I got onto the Aizu-Wakamatsu tour bus, just to visit Tsuruga-jo in the big snow. I have to admit that I was half miserable and half enjoying that miserable-ness I had to go through HAHA. To wipe off that tinge of miserable-ness I got myself a cup of amazake (traditional sweet, low-alcohol Japanese drink made from fermented rice) at Tsuruga-jo. And believe me, that was the bestest drink I’ve ever had for the entire trip. Because of that random cup of drink I went to supermarkets/convenience stores in Japan to buy microwaveable versions of amazake just to taste the sweetness of the alcohol. It’s SO GOOD. I just hung around Tsuruga-jo for a while, watching a local walk a dog, watching kindergarten students get off school in the snowy day.

Side story: I was at Aizu-Wakamatsu station trying to look for a postcard of the Tadami line. I was paranoid after not finding postcards at Nikko, so I bought one ugly postcard of the Tadami line at a random convenience shop. I asked for stamps but the cashier who seemed like a high school student didn’t understand what I was asking for. So I just “chotomate” and google translated for him. He immediately gave an adorably awkward smile and said “sumimasen”. LOL. Not sure why but I feel like they shouldn’t be sorry about not understanding what I say because I should have asked for things in Japanese instead.

Nanukamachi station

After a whole day of impromptu decisions made, I arrived at the station 1 hour before the train towards Aizubange came. I was almost done for the day already but I discovered the pretty old street at Nanukamachi selling interesting stuff so I went to take a look – and it was still snowing so heavily. Walked around an edo period temple filled with thick layers of snow, went into souvenir shops to buy some local snacks and more postcards! YAY. I was so happy to find Aizu themed postcards at the Nanukamachi station souvenir shop which sells really pretty stuff.

Side story: While I was waiting for the train at the really small train station holding area, there was an old Japanese uncle talking to himself at a corner, and I believe he was shivering because of the cold. I was rather taken aback when he started to walk around the area so I left. No idea why but I guess people have their own issues, no matter where they are.

When it was time for the train to arrive, I went outside to the station, braving the snow and wind. I really felt the chills in my bones when the wind blew. I really wanted to get to somewhere warm. I really have had enough of the cold for the whole day, and also my heavy ass backpack. I just wanted to eat and sleep. I stood in the cold for 8 minutes I wanted to die so bad. HAHAHA. Hungry and cold is really.. rather miserable.

When the train came, I boarded with all the Japanese students going home after school. I think it was only 5-6pm local time, but the sky was already dark. Not sure why but that was the first time I felt like I am a foreigner in Japan. Because the whole train was just full of Japanese school kids, and I was the only foreigner there not knowing what they were talking and laughing about. But I cherish that experience alot, because that was the reason why I wanted to go to Aizu. I didn’t want to go somewhere so touristy and noisy. I wanted the local rural experience, including the challenges I faced, and the feeling of me being the intruder seeking to experience the local flavours. It was also interesting because the train was so packed – of course the train timings were planned for the peak periods in such a rural area of Japan.

Aizubange

Alighted at the station and found Tatzuko’s car waiting for me. Got into the car and the stone in my heart stopped – as if I have finally found refuge in this cold ass winter. I read on airbnb’s reviews that the family is an awesome host family. I had some problems communicating with her but somehow we managed to communicate in simple English. I think my ability to communicate with people whose main language isn’t English has improved immensely because of this trip to Japan and Korea. HAHA. Yoshi was supposed to be my airbnb host but he’s away working so his parents – Tatzuko and Yoshihito became my hosts. It was hella a fun ride with them! 😀

I believe that Yoshi isn’t that much older compared to myself, but Tatzuko was 54. She told me all her stories travelling around the world on a ship 30 years ago for 3 months – to Asia, including Singapore! I couldn’t believe that such exchanges did exist so long ago, and I was so impressed because she was such an adventurous person back then when she was as young as I am. I felt like I’ve found someone very cool to look up to and remember. Oh, she actually hurt her leg from climbing Mt Bandai along the Tadami line, and was on clutches. But she DROVE from her house to pick me up at the train station. I don’t know how she does that but she’s a real garang lady! So yepp, we had a good 30 minute conversation understanding each other, and she asked for my schedule for the next 2 days so she could plan when to send me to the train station. The next day we agreed to meet at 6am – because I wanted to see the Tadami scenic area at Aizumiyashita area. After that we meddled with the wifi and Line to make sure that we are able to communicate directly instead of going through her son, Yoshi.

DINNER: I swear this is the best dinner I have had in Japan too. Not sure if it’s made in comparison with the miserable day that’s why. But in terms of the effort used to made the meal, the quality and freshness of the meal, this dinner made by Tatzuko really trumps anything else I had in Japan. Really. The moment she brought the serving tray into my room after leaving me to unpack, I was so touched and I REALLY want to eat her homemade Japanese style dinner again. There’s raw radish, black beans, fresh fish, Japanese rice from the Aizu rice fields, pork & tapioca stew, and pear. Everything’s so good.

After dinner Tatzuko taught me how to make my bed with the futon and tatami. 3 tatamis first, then the futon with a bed sheet + more blankets for the cold winter. There’s also a hot stone water bag which Tatzuko filled up to put at my feet + oil heater with real fire which heats up the air in my room. That thing is so powerful that it can dry my socks within 5 minutes LOL. I was a little worried if I burn myself with that heater at night or what happens if there’s an explosion or something HAHA.

Was an unforgettable day, every single moment is still stuck in my head so vividly. And this day will always remind me of why I travel. Which is really hard to grasp sometimes when I just go to places without knowing why I went there in the first place.

So, that’s why I try my very best, to go to places I really want to go, instead of going to places where most people would want to go. Aizu, is somewhere I really wanted to go.

20.12.2017

Aizu-Miyashita

Mishima Viewpoint & Meeting a HKG friend

Aizu-Yanaizu

Enzoji

Meeting a friendly chef

Aizu-Bange

In the sun

Kitakata

Kitakata Sake Museum & spending time with Tatzuko

Special Episode

As usual, I woke up super early at 530am, washed up and changed, this only took 15 minutes so I just waited for time to hit 6am because that was the time Tatzuko agreed to send me to Aizu-Bange train station for my day-trip to the rest of Aizu. She even told me that if I come back early enough she’d bring me to a sake museum (when she told me this I didn’t know that the sake museum is actually in Kitakata – evident of the mediocre research I have done for Aizu LOL).

At 6am – I went outside my room in the cold to see if there is anyone awake. Because for the whole time I was awake, I heard no footsteps nothing. Time slipped till 610am I started panicking – because I spent an hour the previous night trying to figure out which areas I should visit and how I should sequence the visit because of the infrequent trains. If I don’t sequence properly I’d be wasting too much time at one area.  And because of all the planning and effort I put into Aizu, I needed to get the train that leaves Aizu-Bange station at 643am.

And apparently, Tatzuko wasn’t awake when it was already 620am. I wanted to go wake Tatzuko up, but there was a note at the staircase saying ‘no entry beyond this point’ because that’s where the hosts stay. I hesitated for super long before I decided to go up and wake the hosts up. I tried calling their names from below the staircase but apparently there isn’t any response. So I climbed the stairs to find a room with a ryokan style sliding door and said really loudly “gommenasai Tatzuko!” for a few times. Then after what seemed like 2 mins, they realised something was off, so I heard this really loud BAMBAMBAM, and suddenly Yoshihito came rushing out of the room signalling to me that he would bring me to the station and give him 5 minutes. LOL.

At that time I felt so bad for waking them up and making them rush me to the train station – but there wasn’t any other way I could go there unless I want to walk 1hour in the cold and snow. Tatzuoko and Yoshihito were so anxious that I felt that they were really sorry for oversleeping. I mean, it’s winter and you have a random kid in your house that wants to get out at 6am… LOL. #toughlife

Yoshihito quickly changed and rushed out of the house to get the car. And then he quickly drove me to the train station; he kept looking at the time to make sure that we reach the station on time for the train. I was a lil worried because he was driving quite fast in the snow, and I tried to pretend to be chill about the “what if I miss the train to Aizu-Miyashita”, and spoiling my plans for the day. Even though I was already mentally prepared to re-plan my trip, I didn’t want to re-plan everything.

We were racing against time. Not sure why I want to do this to myself on a leisure trip but me being me, I wanted things to go accordingly to what I’ve planned especially if I am spending this little time in a place I really like.

When I finally see the train station, it was 640am. The moment I saw a lot of students still walking to the station, I was so relieved because I know I wouldn’t miss the train anyhow. Yoshihito dropped me at the station and I said thank you and bye to him. I walked into the station and figured out which train to take because there were trains in both directions. While I was waiting for the gantry to open to get to the opposite platform for my train, Yoshihito suddenly appeared beside me at the station and directed me to the train. HAHA. I was so touched because he actually came out of his car to make sure that I got on the right train to Aizu-Miyashita. I really respect this level of effort.

Aizu-Miyashita

Mishima Viewpoint & Meeting a HK friend

Took the train from Aizu-Bange to Aizu-Miyashita for the famous Mishima viewpoint, it was a rather long train ride because I decided to first head to Aizu-Miyashita > Aizu-Yanaizu > Aizu-Bange; starting from the furthest station away from Bange.

Tadami line for Oku-Aizu is too beautiful to be true. If you visit in winter like I did you’ll get to enjoy how softly the snow falls and how the trees get covered in those layers of snow. And the serenity of the towns in the winter made my trip better since I’m not a fan of crowds and the bustling cities.

Surprisingly there isn’t many tourists when I visited. Not sure if it’s because it was too early to head out and be rolling, but there was only 1 other HKG lady, 1 other HKG man whom I didn’t dare to approach even though we were in the same train cabin, and another couple from not sure where. I guess that’s about it for that morning. Oh! There is a board at the train station which lets visitors indicate from which country they are from. I’m proud to be the second female traveller from Singapore to Mishima town!

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I read about the Mishima town bus which brings you from Aizu-Miyashita to the Mishima viewpoint for 500 yen (one way). When I stepped outside the station I saw the bus, and I went onto the bus, and started talking to the HKG lady (who was the only person on the bus before me) and that was when we decided to make the visit to Mishima viewpoint and walk back to the station together. She was much more well-researched than I am and she knew the timings that the mini-buses would arrive at the stations – glad that I’ve met her there if not I’ll just be walking to and fro the viewpoint and the train station in the cold. TT.

Upon reaching Mishima town, there was nobody there except for the two of us. We talked a lot about our lives in HKG and SIN, climbed the snow-stairs to viewpoints B&C to take lots of photos. It was quite a tough climb because the stairs were all covered in thick snow and we had to grab the ropes at the side to climb up and down.

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The view there is really breath-taking. I would love to re-visit Mishima again just to enjoy this view. It was the epitome of serene, and watching the snow fall in front of you, while watching the Tadami River first bridge from afar, makes me forget about the cold. How I wish I could replicate the exact sentiments over here. A pity that we were there too early to watch the train pass by.

It felt like I was waiting for something silently, even though I already know that there is no point waiting further, I still willingly waited.

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A photo of my HKG friend and the SNOWWWWWWWWW! I love the snow that’s covering everything I see. After taking a lot of videos and photos, we walked back to Aizu-Miyashita station together. On the way back we talked a lot about our travel experiences, about our backgrounds, and she recommended me to go to Universal Studios in Osaka – and I went due to a hiccup in my plans (keep reading my posts until the Osaka ones to know the story!). When talking to this newly made friend, I realise how birds of the same kind flock together. There is a reason why I meet only certain types on people on my trips – and I believe there is also a reason why I decided to talk to them to know them better. Most of them are solo travellers who don’t like the crowd and the mainstream. That is how we ended up where we met and started knowing each other. And this is one of the things I enjoy about travelling alone – meeting people with the same mentality and purpose.

While walking back to the station we weren’t checking GPS, we just walked and walked until one point when I whipped out my phone and realise that we are near the station.  BUT. We were supposed to take a staircase down to the station – but snow had it covered and we don’t even know where the stairs were. If we slid down that whole chunk of snow to the train station, I’m not sure if I’d still be here typing this for you. We backtracked and tried to hitch a ride from the passing vehicles – which weren’t too many and we were literally walking in the middle of the highway for around 40 minutes. Did the hitch handsign and nobody stopped, until a big van did and they didn’t offer to drop us at the station so we continued walking. I was half panicking then because I wanted to catch the 912am train to Aizu-Yanaizu. If not the next train which comes would be at 1pm. When I told the HKG friend that the next train comes at 1pm, she got panicky too and we started to run along the highway back to Aizu-Miyashita train station. I am sure we ran like crazy women in the cold (and laughing loudly in the very quiet town) for at least 15minutes, because I was dying from the extreme warmth generated from my heat tech when we finally got onto the train – really wanted to strip badly LOL. Was a crazy and impromptu experience with this new friend I made. Before we left each other on the train, we added each other on Facebook, and promised that we could find each other if we happen to visit each other’s countries. Would love to visit her 3 storey house in HKG with 8 doggos! HAHA.

Every single time I make a friend and say goodbye, not knowing when will be the next time I see them again, makes my heart ache.

Aizu-Yanaizu

Enzoji

My second stop of the day is Aizu-Yanaizu. Not sure why I chose this place, probably because it’s on the way back to Aizu-Bange and because of Enzoji + the famous Awamanju. It’s a pretty little town, even though there were barely any souls around. I was the only person who alighted at this station and I started eating the snacks I bought at Nanokamachi before I headed out because it was just too cold – and I was spending too much time outdoors in the cold. I was already super hungry and one of my primary goals for Aizu-Yanaizu was to find any place with food so I could eat an early lunch. TBH I was just randomly walking in the town, until I saw Enzoji (which is not as hard to climb as I have imagined from the photos I saw online). There were also many manju shops which were closed. I wanted to buy some back to Singapore but I had another 3 weeks to go on the trip, apparently the manjus can only be kept for 2 days so I skipped that idea.

At Enzoji, there’s a cow statue – apparently you have to rub its head for good luck – but its head was covered in snow so I rubbed its nose LOL. Apparently that didn’t help for the rest of my 2018. HAHA. The staff at Enzoji were also really nice, probably because they don’t really have visitors in this deep winter. I could understand Japanese good enough to know that they are telling me “welcome” and “be careful”. Sweet!

Basically what I did in Aizu-Yanaizu is being hungry, and waiting for restaurants to open at 11am so that I could have brunch because I was hungry af. LOL. While waiting I wondered about in the town, sat outside one of the onsen shops to enjoy free hot water bath for a while – and regretted it afterwards because my feet were wet, but I didn’t care and just wore my socks and boots back. I finished the ramen flavoured mochi I bought from Kitakata too; IT TASTED SOOOOOO GOOD. Omg. I would go back to the shop to buy it again and again. Until I get sick of eating it. That is the BEST mochi I have ever had in my entire life. Not exaggerating.

I had a hard time choosing where to eat for lunch. But there is a place I kept contemplating because it’s the only menu I could understand by google translating the menu outside the restaurant. I found out that they sell curry rice – and I wouldn’t mind eating that for brunch so why not? I started to hover outside the restaurant like a vulture at 1050am and peaked into the store at 1055am. The chef/boss saw me outside and quickly came to invite me into the restaurant and turned on the heater. How sweet~ Omg I was so cold but I don’t realise how cold it was, until someone turns on the heater. And the chef/boss made me sit right beside the heater since I was the first and only customer he has for that morning.

The chef/boss was so friendly he kept asking me questions in Japanese. But I couldn’t understand any – we ended up communicating using Google translate. Thank you for saving my life Google! He asked where I am from, where I travelled to, where else do I intend to go, how was Nikko, how I am handling the cold and was I travelling alone. This conversation I had with the chef/boss of this random little restaurant in Aizu-Yanaizu is so energising and lifting, it really powered up the rest of my trip. Because he said,“travelling alone is amazing!” and kept saying “segoui” which means amazing when I told him about my 1 month long trip to Japan and S.Korea.

I never knew I needed to get out of Singapore to gain energy to carry on with life, and to remind myself that what I am doing with my life is worthwhile and is what I really want to do – and therefore I keep doing it.

He made curry beef rice for me, served with salad. Nothing too special about the food, but it was a heartwarming meal made with sincerity. I can totally feel that from the chef/boss. Not sure why but he actually switched on 3 of the heaters in the restaurant even though I was the only customer LOL. Before I left the restaurant, he said “be careful” – the exact same way the uncle at the graveyard which was forbidden at Kawaguchiko (D3 side story).

Bought some awamanjus (bean paste buns with chestnut) after brunch, and walked back to Aizu-Yanaizu station. It was too early for the next train so I ended up playing with snow and building a snowman along the train tracks – all alone. This is what I meant by wasting too much time at an area. LOL.

Aizu-Bange

Got back to Aizu-Bange a little past 1.30pm. It was sunny in the afternoon although it was still cold. But it’s a warm kind of cold. You could see people walking on the streets, a little more lively than the previous evening when it was hella cold and snowing heavily, a little brighter than the morning when I was almost late for my train. It’s nice to hang out at a town where no normal tourist would come, and take a sneak peak at how the locals live life. Sent myself a postcard, bought amazake (MY FAVOURITE!!) from 7-11 – thank you to the cashier for heating it for me twice and for making sure that it was hot enough! Went into some local shops to have a look at what they sell, got tired so I ended up sitting down on a bench along a school field. Just to enjoy the sunshine, amazake, and just watch life go on.

Texted Tatzuko to ask her to pick me up at the train station after I am done spending time alone. It was almost 4pm I think. When she picked me up she said we would go to the hospital to pay her bills (for her injured leg from hiking), go to the sake museum, visit a milk/cheese icecream shop (which was apparently closed), and go shopping for dinner ingredients at Lion Dior.

Kitakata

Kitakata Sake Museum & spending time with Tatzuko

What happened after was really awesome because this is the exact reason why I came to Aizu. To understand what normal people do here, away from the cities. Rural Japan is really amazing – great for a peaceful holiday without disturbance from the outside world. The most awesome thing is to have Tatzuko tell me about life there, and for bringing me around the area like a mom even though her leg was injured and she was using clutches the whole time.

We took a 10 min drive to the hospital to pay her bills – I offered to go with her but she just asked me to stay in the car. LOL. Then we drove for another 20minutes beside all the ricefields covered in thick af snow to Kitakata for the sake museum which has a free tour and free sake tasting.

Apparently I didn’t know that she was going to bring me to Kitakata – but I’m glad that I had the chance to explore the rest of Kitakata in the huge snow the day before, myself. She told me that Kitakata is famous for bricks and ramen. Good that I have at least tasted their ramen, cant bring bricks back to Singapore anyway HAHA. Interesting tour at the sake museum and sake is so damned cheap in the museum please… I liked this yoghurt sake so much I really wanted to bring it back to Singapore but it needs to be in the fridge so I gave it a pass and got the peach flavoured sake instead. It was only 12SGD for a big bottle. Cant get it at this price anywhere in Singapore. And if you’re thinking – yes it’s D7 of my trip and I bought a full bottle of peach sake, and I have another 24 days to go with a flight to S. Korea… yes, I must be crazy to carry this in my already 12kg backpack all the way. And, of course I did it. One of the many reasons why my feet, shoulder and back hurt so badly when I was into my third week of the trip in Osaka… is the weight that adds onto my body every single day into the trip…

I talked a lot with Tatzuko about her experiences too. She is one cool lady! She even went to Romania when she was younger~ COOL AF. She also told me that Aizu is famous for cultivating pears and persimmons. Would love to taste them when it’s harvesting season – it’s only 3 months a year because the rest of the year would be snowing like mad.

Initially we wanted to drop by a milk/cheese icecream place because that’s where she always brings her friends. Unfortunately, the shop was closed.

Then we drove to the supermarket to buy ingredients for dinner. It felt like I was going shopping with my mom. HAHA. Along the way home she apologised for this morning and said that “my voice was her alarm clock”. I laughed so bad HAHA. It was really funny the way she described it, I wouldn’t deny that my voice is really loud though.

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A photo of my last home-made dinner in Aizu, and in Japan. A really heartwarming way to end my Aizu trip – wish it was longer than 2 days. I will definitely be back again, with my partner.

It’s a pity not to see these amazing views at least once in one’s lifetime.

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