From where we live it is 3 train rides and a 4 hours 20 minute bus ride to the Totsukawa area of Nara.
Nara prefecture has a campaign going on now to visit this area in which they paid for our round-trip bus fares (7300 yen per person).
If you've travelled on the local buses in Japan you'll know that they calculate the fares by the distance travelled (the farther you go, the higher the price).
Look at how blue the river water was...(I took this picture from the bus)
The road to Totsukawa was winding, and was mostly one laned.
Thank goodness they made "pit stops" along the way.
At the first pit stop, we didn't think to buy lunch...this would majorly affect us later...
The second pit stop was at the Tanise Suspension bridge.
This bridge is huge!
It is 297.7 meters in length (325 yards) and 54 meters high (177 feet).
We didn't have a chance to cross the bridge because the break time was only 10 minutes.
80 or so bus stops later we got off at our final destination...Hotel Subaru.
This facility was more like a hostel than a hotel.
We caught some kids using the yaen (human powered gondolas).
Because this area is mountainous with lots of rivers, yaen was often used to cross over to the other side.
You can still find these here and there around Totsukawa but nowadays it is mainly used by tourists.
The lobby was filled with beautiful Totsukawa furniture.
Apparently Totsukawa's key industry is forestry and since it is struggling, they came up with this project to attract more business by using local sugi (cedar) and hinoki (cypress) in furniture and dwellings.
If we had a bigger apartment, I would love this table!
So, I told you we hadn't bought lunch at our first pit stop, well, when we arrived at the hotel, they had just finished lunch service!
Luckily, they had some instant noodles to buy from their gift shop...by the time dinner came around though, we were starving!
Some highlights of the meal...yuzu wrapped with kaki. This reminded of the one we found in Gokayama.
Yubeshi with cheese. In Nara, yubeshi is a type of non-perishable. Yuzu is hollowed out and filled with katsuo (bonito), miso, sesame seeds then wrapped in straw and put up out onto the roof tops for 6 months. Before eating it, it is sliced thin.
This was delicious with the cheese. When I heard "yubeshi", I had thought it was similar to the one we found in Wajima.
This one was savory while the one in Wajima was sweet.
Mukodamashi...a millet cake. Muko means husband and damashi means deceive.
Rice was often hard to come by in Totsukawa so in order to have "mochi" for New Years, the wives would make these millet cakes.
These are really dense and filling.
A long day but we were amazed with the tranquility of the area.
909-4 Totsukawamura Hiratani
p.s. check out more photos in my Nara album.