Monday to Tuesday we did a mini trip to an Onsen (hot spring) town in the mountains. The town is called Nasu, which is sort of amusing since nasu in Japanese also means eggplant and all of the town smelled like boiled egg. Since there are volcanos, and therefore also onsen, gas comes out into the air and the sulfur smell is the first thing that strikes you when you get there. In Nasu there is a nice temple area and also a valley where there used to be a river. There are also a couple of big boulders that have mysterious origines. One is supposed to actually have been a fox that was turned into a stone by a monk. In the valley there also are a lot of Ksitigarba (jizou in Japanese) wich are Buddhistic stone statues supposed to be the gods of children who died too early. They all wear red hats and around them a lot of coins have been given too them. The copper coins have turned blue, probably because of the various metallic compounds in the air.
We stayed at a Japanese style onsen hotel, an onsen ryokan, and besides from sleeping on futons on tatami mats, we got good old Japanese food. Very nice and also beautiful. Of course there were hot springs in the hotel and they were open 24 hours. There’s nothing as relaxing as going to the hot springs just before going to bed.
On Tuesday we took the bus and then the rope way to go and climb a volcano. The way up was rather steep and the ground was covered in boulders and gravel. Many people fell, a lot, and slid several meters. Still, there were many old people making it up to the peak to watch the view and the crater of the volcano. Observe the two ladies with their umbrellas. I mean, most women and girls here use umbrellas when it’s sunny outside, but to bring them to the steep mountainside? Well…what ever it takes to stay white… What I found most interesting, was that the air was full of dragon flies. They were everywhere. There were also several butterflies, like this swallowtail (makaonfjäril in Swedish). I wonder why… I am used to dragon flies around lakes and rivers, not high up in the mountains. Anyhow, at some spots the air was full of black things flying around. Nice!
After climbing the volcano and getting down to town again, we started walking in search of an Italian restaurant that was supposed to be nice. We walked for what seemed to be an eternity in the extreme heat and sunshine. Finally we found it and we had nice pizza and I had cake… nomnom. Ah, on thing to think about when in Nasu, is that it’s really really expensive to go by bus between the different parts of the town. And you almost have to go by bus, it’s way too far to walk. To ride for only 10 minutes costed like 8 euros. Not good at all. I wonder why it was so expensive. We should have had a car =(