I’m currently sitting on an overnight bus, only half an hour away from Fukui. Watching the outside scenery pass by is calming and exciting at the same time: Traditional architecture with their slanted shingled roofs make up small towns that give way to bright green fields and lush forests. The whole scene is framed by an endless row of large mountains, dwarfing the already small clusters of houses. We just entered the city so the buildings are getting larger and larger, but the houses stay the same. It’s super interesting to me to see the juxtaposition of old rustic structures housing beautiful sleek Porsches. Like seriously, what?
Now I am sitting in the dark in the kitchen (it’s 1am and this is the only room I get wifi) thinking back on the day! It was such a nice break from the city. Driving in the mountains and along the sea, smelling fresh air, and being able to see stars! (Haha do I sound poetic enough yet?) But in all seriousness, it really was a wonderful experience. I arrived at Fukui station looking like a piece of sweat-covered-shit before Shizuka-san and Akari-san immediately showed me to the car, and before long we were headed to Toujinbou! On the way there, I realized they were the famous suicide cliffs we learned about in class….And once we arrived I could see why it is so popular, as dark as that sounds. It’s both scary and beautiful, terrifyingly scenic – but maybe that’s because it was introduced to me within the context of suicide(?). Either way, we trudged around enjoying the view but melting from the sun (high of 97, I kid you not) before driving a little while away for Oshima Island, a small mysterious island where compasses don’t work…(jk, I just googled it and it says that it’s due to the magnetism in the rocks. Sorry to ruin the mystery.) We hiked through the island, which is super steep at first, but gives way to a slightly leveled forest. There really isn’t a better way to describe it than as a “Totoro forest” with little paths, large blue-accented black butterflies fluttering everywhere, and deafening cicadas. Afterwards we stopped at Awara spa, a nearby onsen, basically experienced a rebirth, and journeyed onward to an adorable craft shop/café in a slightly secluded (but also very scenic) area for a delicious curry lunch. Another car ride, several grocery stops, and one ice cream break later, we arrived at home! It was so nostalgic seeing the old shrine almost two and a half years later. Okaasan was the same as I remembered her, slightly goofy and very hardworking and honest. Obaachan was also the same, getting flustered when she didn’t remember my name. I helped out with some preparations (tomorrow there is a summer camp at the shrine for the local kids) and enjoyed a pretty good talk with Shizuka over iced coffee at a nearby café while gazing out at the sea. Before long, it was time for a local summer festival, so we suited up in yukata and hobbled over in our shoes. There were many children and old people, but not many young adults- probably away at school. Either way, I enjoyed learning how to dance bondori and eating yakitori. Then we drove up to another café high in the mountains to watch the fireworks while munching on snacks. It soon became clear that the café was actually really far away from the fireworks, so okaasan loaded us into the car and we literally chased the fireworks. It was pretty awesome, looping in and out of view, as they loomed larger and larger. We were practically under them when the final round went off. With the windows rolled down and the night breeze whipping at my face, we drove along the ocean, homebound. I felt absolutely rejuvenated! When we got back, Obaachan went to go watch a drama, but the rest of us sat around the kitchen table eating fried matsuri food and drinking beer while listening to Akari-san’s bargaining tips (according to her, she’s a pro). After a while, we said our goodnights and headed off to bed. Or atleast I was supposed to go sleep haha.
|Reunited at long last :) Toujinbou cliffs and jumping on the bridge to Oshima!|
|More scenic shots of Toujinbou and Oshima, and of course a few obligatory selfies. See those cool jack-like structures? They are for breaking up waves during storms!|
|The local summer matsuri with the beautiful Fukui scenery. Suited up in our yukata! Beer and fried matsuri food with Akari, Shizuka, and Okaasan. Delicious breakfast of bread, jam, fried hot peppers, omelette, tomatoes, ham, peaches, and plums. @__@ Karaoke before I left! Akari and Shizuka both have really strong voices, and I enjoyed listening to them while Okaasan enthusiastically shook her maracas and cheered. She kind of reminds me of my mom actually haha|
I'm really glad I made the trip to Fukui that weekend. It felt so nice to get away from the city, and I finally got to see my old host family again! I missed their goofy antics and straightforwardness. When I asked them if there was anything they wanted from America, Okaasan simply said "letters". What an answer! I will definitely write to them when I return home ^^