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06/14/2016

Sometimes It's Good to Take a Break

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     Bustling subways, colorful lights, busy streets—if you’re in the city for a while, Tokyo life may seem as if it’s what all of Japan is like. It’s too easy to forget there’s a whole other country out there when you’re caught up with the daily commute, school, and events with friends. While Tokyo is beautiful and fun, it’s good to step out of the city every once and a while and see what the rest of the country is like. After all, you wouldn’t say someone who has only experience New York City has experience all of America, right?

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              This past weekend I was lucky enough to delve deep into Chiba prefecture to get a real feel of the county life in Japan—and it was stunning. Only after an hour the city had melted away and verdant rice paddies spread out on either side of the highway. A little farther and we were in a thick forest, sunlight filtering down from above and dappling the road. The contrast between Tokyo was breathtaking, especially at how quickly the congested city turned to wild countryside. Our car popped in and out of tunnels as we passed through small slopes until we were far away from all city sound. Fake bird calls from train stations were replaced by a loud chorus of birds and the sigh of the wind. It felt quite therapeutic and calming, especially after over two months of being in just the city.

              We spent some time hiking through the woods and had a lovely picnic with our host family, eating in a little wooden gazeebo by the road. Just a little way down the path from us we could hear children playing in the nearby waterfall. Back in the car again, we wove between small roads, which were occasionally dotted with signs warning about tanuki (a Japanese raccoon-dog) or monkey crossings. Who knew that just outside Tokyo, tanuki were running around everywhere? But in all seriousness, it was beautiful.

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              A little farther along in the trip and the terrain started changing again. Trees started to look a little more tropical and forests gave way to beaches. We had made it to Kamogawa. The little seaside town had a strong Floridian vibe—with little resorts and its very own (small) Sea World to match. There were quite a few differences however, one being the plethora of onsen spas sprinkled throughout the area. While some might be a little hesitant to be naked in front of strangers, the experience is actually not embarrassing at all. Some of the onsen in Kamogawa even have a lovely ocean view from their outdoor bathes! Nothing beats a soak in a hot bath next to the ocean after a long day of hiking and travelling.

              While leaving Tokyo may seem like a bit of a hassle at first, it as an experience completely worth taking. Getting a feel for a place of a completely different pace is not only rewarding, but also completely fun. You meet different kinds of people, try different foods, and experience some lovely onsen.

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