After a solid nights rest on those cozy futons, I woke up early Sunday morning to go for a walk. Mina and her mom were still sound asleep so I headed out to roam the streets with the new Phil Wickham album blasting in my headphones and my camera in hand.
Just at the end of the street were these old Japanese style houses. How rad are they?!
There aren't many building like this is Kashiwa, so I was having a field day taking pics. Everything was soaking in history...generations of stories and memories.
I was just wandering down the streets randomly, going where the views looked nice. I stumbled upon this cool house that seemed like the most glamorous artist shack. I'd live there!
I turned a corner and BAM. What a view!
I saw this funny cat just chillin there, and when I walked over to it, it seemed to notice me and look straight into my lens.
This house and tree reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Big Fish.
Since Chichibu is a small town, my 40 minute walk turned into a scenic adventure. I even made it over to get a view of the "Harp Bridge" .
Not a bad view to start the morning.
Seeing the mountain all hazy in the background was pretty magical. It's not often that I spend time in a city nuzzled right up to a mountain side, so I was loving the view from every angle.
The fall colors are unreal. Growing up in LA I never saw colors like this before!
So after my nice morning walk, I headed back to the house to pack up, eat breakfast (really yummy paninis!) and then Shizue drove us to explore some more nature. Yay! *perks of traveling around with a local*
I could have stayed in this area allllll day.
We walked up to the top of this staircase to see an epic panoramic view of the city...ready for it...
Chichibu!! As you can see, it's pretty cozy tucked away in between the mountains.
Mom and daughter pic! Mina and her mom Yoko...and Haruka and her mom Shizue. Such beautiful women inside and out.
Mina and Haruka both work at Narita airport and are such perfect airline ground staff ladies don't you think? They totally have that approachable, poised vibe about them. They're also just fun to hang out with!
After admiring the beautiful views at the top of the mountain, we headed out to eat lunch.
I was pretty tempted to go on this high ropes course.
We went to this cute cafe on a campsite. The view outside was so cozy!
How beautiful is this curry?!
Alright, so in Chichibu there is a famous tsukemono (picked veggies) called Shakushi which a specific type of bok choy (chinese cabbage). It is AMAZING and being the tsukemomo lover that I am, I had to order the Shakushi pasta! Tsukemono pasta, how crazy is that?! It was really bomb though and kinda wish I could just take 7 bags of that stuff home to eat everyday.
After lunch we went to see Chichibu shrine and on the way we saw these dried kaki (persimmons) which always make me think of my dad's kaki tree in our backyard.
And we saw a fantastic sams! How random, right!?
The shrine was cool, soaking in history and tradition. After that, we had a little bit more time to kill before heading to the station to catch the express train back to Ikebukuro, so we roamed the streets some more.
We picked up a snack from the local supermarket - inari! But, this inari was special because it was sooo sweet and delicious! WOW kinda wish I bought three more packages haha.
The main station is pretty epic and reminds me of Lake Arrowhead or Mammoth. Wish I could just grab a cup of hot cocoa, sit by the fire, and watch the snow fall. Thats the kind of magic this place has.
Ahhh...alas...we said our goodbyes and headed on the express train back to Tokyo.
Major shout out to Haruka and her mom Shizue for their amazing hospitality all weekend! I owe it to them for showing me this awesome Matsuri and a true locals guide to Chichibu. Memories like this are truly priceless. 本当ありがとうございます！めっちゃ楽しかったです！
On the train back to Tokyo I was just thinking about how much of my heart stirs up for this kind of adventure. I think it's in all of us you know, that deep curiosity to see new things, learn about new places and people, and be wowed time and time again. I think that's why so many of us crave adventure, that next plane ticket we could buy, that dream vacation, the perfect instagram post. The truth is, we were built with a curiosity in us to love as much of this world as possible and that absolutely comes from God. A lot of times we confuse that with doing things for ourselves, or our own gain. We want our lives to seem cool to the rest of the world and we seek outward approval for our experiences...but the best adventures are when you forget about yourself and learn to love a new place and new people from God's perspective.
God really created our hearts to be forever learning, constantly pouring out and eternally awed by His creation. That's pretty cool.
What a year this has been. Glad I could end one of my last weekend of 2016 on such a rad note like this!