Two Days in the Countryside. My visit to Amakusa
Two weeks ago, I went on a tour to Amakusa in Kumamoto. This is only the second time I had been to the Japanese countryside, so I was very excited!
The bus ride was very long, but time passed quickly. I enjoyed simply looking at the beautiful scenery during the ride to our first destination, which was a seaside restaurant. The restaurant was called ‘Ripple Land’, which is right near a place called ‘Ariake Octopus Street’.
The food was delicious! We had rice, octopus, vegetable tempura, sashimi and some sides. I have only eaten octopus a few times in Japan, and this was definitely the best I have had so far.
After eating at the restaurant, my friends and I walked down to the sea to relax before we left for our next destination.
From ‘Ariake Octopus Street’, we soon arrived at our next destination, which was dolphin watching!
The tour group split into two small groups, and we rode on separate boats. The dolphin watching was a full hour, but the time passed so quickly! I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been dolphin watching before, so I only expected to see a few dolphins, but I was completely wrong! They were everywhere, hundreds of dolphins! There were about 5 different boats on the water, all with tourists wanting to see the dolphins. It was a great feeling, sitting on the front of the boat, surrounded by beautiful scenery and the clean country air.
After the dolphin watching, it was starting to get late, so we headed to our accommodation. I didn’t read my tour information before this day, so I didn’t actually know where we were staying, so I was very surprised to find out that I would be doing a homestay for a night! I will admit that I was a bit nervous. I had never done a homestay before, and I am still not very confident with my level of Japanese. But, my host family were some of the nicest people I had ever met in my entire life.
When we arrived at their house, they showed us to the dining room, and a feast had been prepared! There were two huge plates of sashimi, a nabe pot, a mountain of yakitori skewers, and my favourite of all, beer.
I was with two of my friends, and there was no way we could eat all of this! But, we certainly did our best.
In such a short amount of time, I really grew to like my host family, so when I go back to Amakusa I will definitely contact them again.
The next day, after saying goodbye to our host family, we still had a few places of the tour still to visit.
First was a place called ‘Yamagoya’, here we learned how to make some Japanese food! We made a few different things, and everyone participated.
I don’t know the name of it, but the first thing was made with sweet potato, egg, sugar, salt, flour, and then fried in oil. I don’t know what it was, but it tasted great!
We also made onigiri, which I was terrible at. My onigiri looked more like cubes, but we all had a laugh about it, and made some other strange shapes like triangles and circles, which were then named the ‘pyramid’ and the ‘baseball’ onigiri.
Once we finished making everything, we all sat around a large table to eat the food we had made.
The people at Yamagoya were really friendly, and it really was a great experience learning how to cook from them.
From here, it was a short drive to an olive oil farm called ‘Avilo’. Here, we did an olive oil tasting. Now, I have been to wine tastings before, but never an olive oil tasting.
I felt a little strange when I thought about drinking olive oil because I had never done that before.
The ladies who hosted the tour first talked about the creation process of olive oil, but I didn’t understand any of it.
There were 3 different types of olive oil to taste. One was called ‘mild’, one was ‘spicy’, and one was just plain olive oil.
Even though I had never done something like this before, I was very surprised how different they tasted! I never knew olive oil could have such different flavours. If I had the money, I would have bought some right there.
After visiting Avilo, I was genuinely sad that we only had 1 more destination before we had to return. I was really enjoying Amakusa.
Our last destination was just a short visit to a large market. It was similar to a supermarket, but with much fresher products. But what surprised me was how cheap everything was! Some vegetables were 30-40% cheaper than supermarkets in Fukuoka, and much fresher. It’s probably a good thing that I did not bring any money, because I would have spent it all at this market. Maybe next time…
We were here for around half an hour before we returned to Fukuoka, said our goodbyes, and returned to our homes.
Amakusa was an amazing experience. Even now, two weeks later, I still miss the beautiful scenery and country air.
I will definitely visit Amakusa and my host family again sometime.Amakusa is the type of place I would like to live someday in the future. A nice big house surrounded by greenery and mountain views.
It’s hard to explain, but what I miss the most is the air and the atmosphere. It’s something you just can’t experience when you’re near a big city.
I’m happy I had the opportunity to visit the Japanese countryside, it’s definitely something I want to do again!