I prepared (cooked) Rice, Daal or Pulse (Edible seeds of various pod-bearing plants like peas or beans or lentils etc.), Tamatar ko Achar (Instant tomato pickles), Mixed-vegetable's fry, Chicken curry (A pungent dish of chicken flavored with curry powder), Salad etc. (etc. here doesn't mean end of thinking capacity, by the way!). The number of items that I was cooking was a bit less than what I would have liked. However, I could hardly manage that many items by their scheduled time of arrival.
My host family joined me at my residence at around 11 o' clock & I warmly received them. I offered glasses of juice to them before we sat for a round of casual talks on various issues. The issues included my recent trip to Nepal, whereabouts of my family, the calamity caused by Koshi (river) floods, the general people's perception over newly formed Maoist government etc. etc.. I was surprised by the amount of knowledge & enthusiasm they showed in my country's current affairs.
At around 12 o' clock, we decided to take the lunch. I served to them & for myself too, and was anxiously waiting for their response if they liked the food. Though, I knew that they are not going to say something 'negative' for the food that I had prepared (as a courteous manner). It appeared that they actually liked the taste of food items (that's what I could guess!). Especially, my Okaasan (host mother) seemed to be quite surprised by the effort I had put in to cook those items! I felt more than happy that they enjoyed Nepalese food and found it 'good', at least as a 'change'. By the way, we continued to exchange ideas & information about Nepalese cuisine during the lunch. After the meal, I served some sweets which I have brought from Nepal.
I presented them with a souvenir that I had brought from Nepal. It was a typical wooden carved 'Mayur Jhyal' (Peacock window). It's worth mentioning that Nepal has achieved unique position in the field of woodcraft. Traditional craftsmanship in the country is known for it's skill more than the material. It displays different meanings, emotions, and myths. The expertise of Nepalese craftsmen in this field can be seen in the intricately carved items. My host family happily accepted the gift and could not stop praising it.
It was around 1 o' clock when we decided to go for a weekend drive. This time we decided to have a trip to Fukuyama which is located at the southeast end of Hiroshima prefecture and is about 100 km far from the Hiroshima city. Soon, we were on the highway heading towards Fukuyama.
It took us about 1 hour to get to the Tomonoura area of Fukuyama, which is 14 km south of Fukuyama station at the tip of the peninsula. It's a historical port town. It's name literally means 'the harbour of Tomo'. The beautiful green islands floating in the calm Seto Inland sea is often reffered to as the Aegean sea of Japan. There are several landmarks and historical remains in this port town. Tomo-no-ura Seto Inland sea national park is one of the major scenic spot. The small verdant islands in the calm Seto Inland Sea is like a masterpiece. The area is blessed with hot springs containing radon, so the visitors can relax their body and soul in this picturesque spot.
In the days before ships had engines, those who visited Tomo by sea relied mainly upon the flow of the tides to navigate, with some help from winds and rowers. To leave Tomo for either east or west, the travelers simply waited for the tides to turn. The geographical features also made Tomonoura an ideal natural harbour with calm seas. Even these days, one can see many people resting and fishing there in the inland sea. I managed to capture an image with people fishing and relaxing (below):
Municipal ferry boats are available for Sensui Island, which is part of the Seto Inland Sea National Park. The rocky island offers great hiking and beautiful beaches. There are a few hotels near the pier as well.
Tomonoura, essentially a small fishermen's village, is beautifully situated on the Inland Sea of Japan, facing Sesui-jima Island.
The town has over 20 temples and remarkably well preserved merchant houses. Please take a look of the Japanese traditional houses used by fishermen and merchants in past:
After spending a little over two hours in Tomonoura, we proceeded to see Myooin Temple. It is believed to have been founded in 807. It's main hall is the oldest existing architectural blend of Japanese and Chinese styles; the former employed for the main hall and the latter for the details. The five-storied pagoda is the fifth oldest among the pagodas which are designated as the Japan's national treasures. In addition to the pagoda, Myooin's main hall is also designated as a national treasure. Below is a glimpse of Myooin Temple:
On the way, we also saw jinja (Shinto shrine), which you can see in the picture below. A Shinto shrine is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") a Shinto kami, and is usually characterized by the presence of a shinden (also called honden) or sanctuary, where the kami is enshrined. The shrine is popularly known as Sado-inari shrine.
Our Next destination was Fukuyama castle. Fukuyama Castle was built in 1619. It was one of the greatest castle of the Edo Period but was mostly destroyed in the air raids of 1945 (world war II). The castle and the turrets (watch tower) are now splendidly reconstructed. There is a good collection of samurai armor and artifacts from castle life and a few parts dedicated to pre-castle history.
It was almost 6 o' clock and we had to get back. It was, indeed, a wonderful trip: an oppurtunity to explore the historical port town of Tomonoura & Fukuyama city. Finally, we were on the way back to Higashi-Hiroshima (the place where I live in Japan).
Around 7 o'clock in the evening, we were back to Higashi hiroshima. I really enjoyed the weekend trip with my host family. And I hope that you too have enjoyed reading this post.