Monday, January 11, 2016

Japan Solo // Yoshino: Say Where Again?

Traveling around Japan this time I opted to buy a Kintetsu Rail Pass because the 5 day pass practically pays for itself with one Osaka to Nagoya trip. Doing a destination a day, I had some extra days with unplanned cities. Choosing a place to go based on the limits of the Kintetsu pass, I ended up in Yoshino, a small town in the Nara prefecture.
When telling my Airbnb hosts my next destination was Yoshino their reaction was a confused, "where's that?" haha. Indeed, only after visiting did I realize only those keen on hiking, cherry blossoms, and UNESCO world heritage sites would have heard of Yoshino.
I went on a Sunday with only 1000 yen cash on me. Japan's still a pretty cash based society, so..... this will probably be a pretty depressing and stressful experience. A locker to store my luggage already ate half that budget. I really wanted to have some soft serve shown above, but would have to make do with the snacks I brought along.
No money to ride the cable car up the mountain, so it's time for a workout! Mind you I was completely unprepared for this excursion as I assumed there would be useful tourist information at the station (which there wasn't any). Map-less, phone-less, Internet-less, money-less......let's do following others haha.
The hike actually wasn't bad at all (less than 30 minutes) so no regrets on skipping the cable car. I didn't know that cherry blossom trees lose all their leaves in the fall though, so the view was pretty boring and killed all my hopes of seeing fall foliage. Once you make it to the top you just wander along the shop lined roads and meander towards the temples.
By now all temples and shrines seem the same, so I didn't explore in detail. After traveling Japan a few times I now feel that Japan is as ubiquitous with its temples and shrines as Taiwan, if not more.

A specialty of Yoshino that I kept seeing sold was this white delicacy made from kuzu starch, a root. Didn't get to buy any since I was penniless, but it was fun window shopping because they were all so delicate and beautiful. I don't think kuzu itself has any flavor and they mix it with different flavors to give it taste. The ones shown above are chestnut flavored.
And that's Yoshino! Not very interesting in itself, but mainly because I was so inadequately prepared. Only takes about a half day to explore, but one way takes 2-3 hours to reach from Nagoya by semi-express train. Next destination is the highlight of my fall Japan solo trip. Any guesses where? Hint: I've been before!

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