Ever since I saw this place featured in a CNN article (31 most beautiful places in Japan) I have wanted to see it. After our wedding ceremony in Hiroshima in November 2014 we were pretty close to doing so but instead opted for some hiking in Sandankyo which is also located in the same area.
My father-in-law wanted to go to a hot spring bath so prior to that we drove to Ini No Tanada to see the picturesque rice terraces. Accessed through a fairly length narrow, single road tunnel this countryside area is there for all to see in its natural splendour.
Well, that probably would be the case during the more aesthetically pleasing seasons of Spring or Autumn but less so in Winter. It wasn’t quite like what I’d seen in that aforementioned article but it was still nice enough though and I was happy to have finally seen it.
There are only 34 houses in the area and the population is supposedly getting smaller and smaller as the farming trade in Japan dwindles even further. Dating back about 500 years it’s fair to say that some of these terraced rice paddies are old. There is more than 320 of them and they use pure natural water from mountain valleys thereby making the rice popular in terms of its taste and fragrance.
Overlooking the rice terraces is Hongwanji temple (below) which we had a quick look around just because it was there. From the outside it was a little difficult for me to even recognise the place as one of worship as it just looked like we were entering someone’s house!
Some delicious curry and rice for lunch in the almost deserted Yuki town was followed by a hot spring bath at Yunoyama onsen. It wasn’t the first time I’ve had such a bath with my father-in-law (that was in Aso-san area of Kyushu in May 2014) and I’m sure it won’t be the last time!
Of course onsen is famed for its hot baths around the 40 degree mark but there’s also usually a cold one too. This particular place had an outdoor natural cascading waterfall which is the kind of thing I wrote about on here many years ago. It’s very much a spiritual and physical challenge and one that first came to my attention on the long forgotten ITV2 show ‘Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie‘ (2005).
Though wary of just sticking my foot under it at first I eventually got stuck in and after a few seconds thought I’d better start counting. Sadly there is no photo or video evidence to prove it so you’ll just have to take my word for it that I easily did a minute under the ice-cold falls before removing myself from the downpour. I think I even surprised myself with my self discipline, ability to meditate and zone-out for that time.
To round off the day we went to a very local place for okonomiyaki; the signature dish of Hiroshima and one that I’ve even managed to cook myself in the last year. For those who don’t know, okonomiyaki is basically a pancake-type dish containing many ingredients. It’s name derives from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled” with the polite “o” placed in front of it. In simple terms the name refers to the fact that you prepare it the way you like it and it is always nice to sample this classic Hiroshima dish.
Click here to read ‘Hiroshima-ken 2015/16 Pt III: Kamichu! Filming Locations’