The first time I came to Japan I was really disappointed because, my school took away all of the Japanese holidays for the foreigners. They wanted to try and make our school schedules in Japan similar back to our western schools. Some how the administration thought it would be an easier transition for us (rolls eyes). In Japan, there’s usually a federal holiday every month or so where all the schools and local business shut down. So while all the Japanese students and professors enjoyed every holiday off I still had to drag my butt to school instead of enjoying local Japanese traditions and festivals. The second time around I’m thankful that not only do I get to enjoy the Japanese holidays, I get paid to enjoy them too.
This month’s holiday was yama no hi or Mountain day. A new holiday that was created just this year in order to “give opportunities to get closer to the mountains of Japan, and appreciate their benefits,” nothing more nothing less. Since I was unaware of this holiday until the night before I didn’t plan to go to any mountains. However I did make the best of it to visit Tochigi city.
Kuramacho town along the Uzuma River is known as the center of history in Tochigi city. The town is nick named Little Edo because many of it’s old historical buildings are still left in tact. Kuramacho is also home to trade and commerce because of all the little shops and cafes that can be found along the river walk and further down.
There were plenty of little shops and cafes along the road, we stopped at one ice cream place to try their anko (red bean paste) ice cream sandwiches (red bean paste is delicious by the way). We were trying to take the boat ride along the river but unfortunately we reached a little late and missed the last ride.
The real reason we came though was to see the paper lanterns that are lit up every night. They were gorgeous and certainly worth the trip to see.