'Camping' in Japan and Autumn Foliage

So I and many other exchange students got invited by Japanese friends to go camping. I love camping and it was also a good way to go watch the autumn leaves which turn incredible red and yellow colors in Japan, so I immediately agreed to go. The thing is, the Japanese interpretation is different from mine. I was thinking about a tent, campfire foods and going to the toilet somewhere in the woods. They were thinking private cottage, big hotpot and Japanese style toilet inside the cottage. It doesn't matter though because it was a good time either way. 

The trip started by a nice long drive. It felt to drive around Kyushu with friends. It almost felt like a little road trip. I was the only girl among six guys in the car so it was a crazy but fun drive. After a while we reached a village famous for its sake. As soon as we got out of the car we got some sake boiled in bamboo offered to us for free. It was good, but really strong. Anyway, these are the kind of moments that make my stay in Fukuoka and Kyushu worthwhile, the people are so friendly. We took a look around the village which was preparing for a kind or lantern festival. Sadly we had to move on before we could see thee lanterns light up. After another (rather hilarious) drive we reached an onsen. It was a hot spring in the middle of nowhere, next to a river. It was so tranquil and soaking in the baths was a great treat. When the boys and girls had gathered after a nice soak we made way to a huge Gingko tree. It had never seen one before. Its leaves were a bright yellow color and it stinked (I wonder why). 

The last part of that day was trying to find the cottage. It was quite far up in the mountains and it had become dark long before we reached the area. But finding a cottage in the mountains, in the dark is not easy I tell you. After having driven back and forth a few times we asked people in a local restaurant (the only establishment that was open in the range of a few kilometers) and they told us how to drive there. When we finally found the place it was pure bliss. As I told you before I thought we would be camping in a tent (which would have been a bad idea in the winter in the mountains), then I heard we would stay in a cottage (which I also imagined to be very basic) but we reached something like a private villa. Okay, villa might be a bit exaggerated but it was a very big house with a few showers and toilets, a few rooms that could fit the 20+ of us easily, a kitchen and a living room. And then the preparations for diner began. Hot pot for everyone! Booze was not to be missed either of course. 

The next morning we tried to clean up the place with the best of our sleep-deprived effort. After breakfast I ventured outside and woke up to the most stunning view of mist in the mountains. I won't forget that view soon. We took some group photos before leaving for the next part of our trip. We were going to a temple where the autumn foliage would be really nice. The driver of our group was much faster than the others' so we were way ahead of the rest. We decided to make some stops at some other places since we had some time anyway. But we lost track of time and in the end we didn't have time to climb the trail at the temple with the autumn leaves. We got to see some awesome other places so it wasn't all too bad. After all the fun it was time to head home. Everyone was tired but happy and satisfied.

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