I got to go to this beautiful place on the country side of Tokyo, and it became one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had on this trip.
It was a holiday in Japan, and thus everyone had a day off to enjoy the three-day weekend. My friend and I took a two-hour train to Okutama, a town located just west of Tokyo. It was a day trip for us, and the weather was 95 degrees Fahrenheit that day. Being a tourist and not knowing much about the place, we did not plan very well. We got there and realized that it was not a very touristy place and therefore there weren’t many buses (or trains). My friend could speak Japanese, so we asked this local lady for directions. Thankfully, there was a Japanese old man there and he offered to drive us to the destination that we wanted to go since he was heading that way as well. And this was how our once-in-a-life-time trip began…
We told him our itinerary for the day and realized that we would have to wait for the bus and walk under the scorching sun and a 95 degrees weather for a total of three hours (but because of him, we had the privilege of sitting in the car with the AC on). Little did we know that that man became our personal chauffeur and tour guide for the day. He lived forty minutes away from the town and was there for business. On the car ride, we got to know more about him and hear about his life story. He designs logos for businesses (our reaction was priceless when we found out that we were sitting in the same car with the man who designed the logo on the bag we bought from the gifts shop we stopped at), therefore he took us to a really local places (part of it was for his business and part was to show us around) and even took us to his favorite lunch place with a really traditional Japanese food called kamameshi which both of us never tried before.
This experience is so precious and part of it was because I did not expect this at all and the other part was just being able to spend a day with a local Japanese and learning about the place and getting immersed into the culture. This also gave me a preview of how kind and friendly Japanese people are. The lady that asked for directions at the train station asked the Japanese man to take good care of us. The Japanese man, after taking us to all the places we wanted to go and even waited for an hour in the car for us at one of the stops, made sure we got back to the station safely and even dropped us off closer to central Tokyo so we did not have to spend much money on the train fare. At first, I was worried where it was safe to trust him, but now I’m glad I trusted him.
It was indeed a fun adventure~