Kamogawa brought me to a family among strangers
Haruki Murakami once said that people are so strange when you are a stranger. But being a traveller is a different story. Being a traveller means you are to cross your lines and immerse yourself to the outer circle for you to understand the strangeness. Until you come to realize that strangeness is a beautiful thing – a treasure inside a cranky packaging and it will make you gather all your guts to open it.
Immersing, not only to the soul of the place, but also to the community and to the people of the place is not as easy as you think. But the moment you overcome your fear and step your feet out of your wall, travelling will be a very unique experience in every the place that you are about to visit.
Without further to do, let me share to you my remarkable trip in Kamogawa City, Japan. At first, I admit that shopping with the throng in Shibuya, scurrying in the cities and experiencing their bullet train were the only things that I was expecting to experience in Japan. Little did I know that I will be captivated with the tranquillity and simplicity of Kamogawa in Chiba prefecture.
So, here are the five awesome things to do in Kamogawa City.
Use the search box below to find the best day trips in Kamogawa, Japan
EXTRA TIP: If you’d like to travel by train around Japan then you should get a Japan Rail Pass! Japan Rail Pass is a multi-use discounted ticket, valid for travels on all JR national trains in Japan, including Shinkansen bullet trains and Narita Express. You can select 7, 14 or 21 consecutive validity days.
1. Check in at traditional hotel.
There are a lot of traditional hotels in Chiba prefecture. In my case, I chose the Kamogawa Universe Hotel. Unlike westernized hotels in the city, Japanese traditional hotels will let you experience a chunk of their culture. They will be serving traditional Japanese dishes. You will sleep in a very comfortable futon. You will find yukata inside the closets. And most of all, you will experience the onsen, or their public bathroom.
2. Entice yourself at Kamogawa Sea World.
Who says that you are too old to mesmerize yourself in sea parks and watch rare shows of sea creatures? Kamogawa Sea World will bring you back to your young self with its different breathtaking shows. Plus, you will also have the opportunity to meet and greet chinky and cheeky Japanese kids. The Kamogawa Sea World is also conducting lectures that will tackle the behaviours of some sea creatures. They are exhibiting 11,000 creatures from rivers and seas, including its killer whales, Belga whales, dolphins and sea lions.
3. Trek at Oyama Senmaida Rice Terrace and learn to make rolled sushi
This will make you suddenly love the tranquillity of the prefecture. There are over 370 rice paddies of different sizes. They are also lighting up these rice paddies and you should not miss the sight of it. It’s like the connivance of human and nature.
Colorful foliage will welcome you if you wish to visit during Autumn. In my case, I arrived quite early before the leaves tuned into different colors. But regardless of the season, the Oyama Senmaida Rice Terrace and its neighboring forests will give you the sense as if you are in Edward Cullen’s residence. It is indeed relaxing. They will also teach you to make rolled sushi. Of course, you are to eat your own masterpiece afterwards.
4. Mingle with the university students
When I visit into different places, there is inside of me which wants to see the way of live of persons at my age. So, I visited the Josai International University (JIU).
I had an infinite time to mingle with the students of the JIU. Of course, there will be a language barrier. But the strong intention to know each other exceeded that limitation. I was able to talk to them about bygone trips, my college course, my family, favourites, and the like.
We even talked about our dreams, future plans and the reason why we chose our profession. At the end of deep conversations, we exchange calling cards to get in touch to each other.
5. Couchsurf and learn from a host family
That was the most important thing that you should do. Immerse yourself in a family and try to do what they are doing. In my case, I was able to be accommodated by my kind foster mother. We did a lot of things and she taught me a lot of cultural practices.
She let me sleep in futon, wear kimono, eat outside the house, visit pottery house, do Japanese calligraphy and sing a Japanese song. It was indeed unforgettable when I found myself crying while singing the song before her. The song was about a mother urging her child to go back. I cannot help but to cry. What surprised me after the experience was that my foster mother cannot even speak in English and I am not that good in speaking Nihonggo. But we made it. No dead air. Every minute of my stay in her house was filled with laughter and deep conversations and gestures.
Related Article: Looking for cheap accommodations in Japan, check out this list.
What I have realized during my nine-day trip was that it’s really possible to embrace the place, the culture and the people despite differences. I am not visiting places for the sake of just visiting it. There’s a sacred purpose why each of us travel. Travelling is multi-faceted. It can be experiencing someone else’s reality that leads to deeper understanding. It can be your way of reuniting with the nature.
At this very moment, I still keep the piece of paper where I wrote the lyrics of the song in Roman alphabets that my okasan (foster mother) taught us. I do not know the meaning of every word but it made me sob everytime I sing this song. Her effort in studying English every night (she may not have noticed it but I heard her trying to speak in English with her little manual); the joy while having a conversation with Japanese university students; the way the elders greet me with smile; the way the foliage create a cool hissing sound as I passed by; the patience of my okasan while teaching me the calligraphy though I am a left-handed person – these things made me realize that we are born connected and there will be a time for us to be reconnected again. And that makes departure and leaving terribly painful.
Haruki Murakami once said that people are so strange when you are stranger. But being a traveller is a different story. Being a traveller means you are to cross your lines and immerse yourself to the outer circle for you to understand the strangeness. Until you come to realize that strangeness is a beautiful thing – a treasure inside a cranky packaging and it will make you gather all your guts to open it.
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About the Writer:
Antonette Tagnipez is a 20-year old Filipina who believes that she was born to show the glint of light on broken glass and to tell the world that the moon is shining. She is currently working as a writer at the Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office. She graduated Journalism at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).
THIS IS AN ENTRY FOR THE 1ST YEAR ANNIVERSARY TRAVEL WRITING CONTEST OF TWO MONKEYS TRAVEL GROUP