Continuing with the segment #ErinDoesJapan, I am taking you off the beaten path in Japan. When you think of Japan, you think of the big or historical cities, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, etc. All of these are wonderful places to visit, but sometimes it is fun to go down the road “less traveled” and experience a different side of the country you are visiting. This is exactly the opportunity I got when I visited Japan in April!
I traveled to Japan with my friend Emiko, who happened to live in Japan as a teacher before. She worked in a small town called, Arida, and quickly became friends with some of the locals. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet her friends, and they opened their home, lives, and city to us, giving me a chance to really jump into Japanese culture.
First stop, the coast of Arida. Arida is known for being a fishing “village” (population of almost 30,000 is considered a village?!) and is especially known for their delicious mikans, an orange-like fruit. Two local families, who Emiko taught, took us around the entire day, Erika, Yurika, her beautiful baby girl, and the fun and energetic Mito. It was great to hear a bit about the history of Arida through the eyes of locals! They took us to this great warehouse-turned-coffee-shop right on the side of a cliff, with stunning views, and we stopped for a few other pictures along the way.
Next stop, was the tiny town of Yuasa, which is the birthplace of the beloved soy sauce! Over 750 years ago a monk made the accidental discovery of soy sauce whilst making miso and now it is one of the most popular sauces used around the world today. Yuasa prides itself on keeping the true form and taste of soy sauce due to their practices and you can take a free tour of their factory and taste the different types of soy sauce they make. You can also have a bit of fun too. 🙂
After Yuasa and Arida, we went to the city of Wakayama, which is the capital of Wakayama Prefecture. Located in the heart of Wakayama, is Wakayama Castle and around cherry blossom season is one of the best times to visit!It is a beautiful site to see with all of the cherry blossoms and on the grounds they have lots of vendors serving snacks and local “delicacies’ such as tacoyaki (an octopus, onion, dough ball type thing), okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese-style pancake). I opted for a crepe as I wasn’t feeling too adventurous at the time. Real original, I know, but you can take the girl out of France, but you can’t take France out of the girl!
Overall, it was one of the BEST days I had during my time in Japan. It was so much fun having the opportunity to experience these things with people from this area! Being able to immerse yourself in the culture and interact with the locals makes your visit that much better as you will learn things you never would have had the chance to normally! I know I was fortunate enough to be traveling with someone who had an “in” but there are opportunities for you to have a small-unknown-town experience. Couchsurfing isn’t just for staying the night on a couch, in fact, they hold meetups so you can meet locals, ex–pats, and fellow travelers in the area! It is also a great resource to find things “off the beaten track” compared to what something like Trip Advisor suggests you to do. AirBnB, another resource, doesn’t just provide empty apartments/houses for you, but also flat-shares where you can stay in a private room within a person’s/family’s home for a chance to experience local lifestyle. If you are looking for a memorable experience, wherever you go, try going off the beaten path, you never know what you will get!
Have you experienced a place that was a bit less traveled? Let me know in the comments below!