Japanese city-life is intense, not only in Tokyo. If you expect a calm and quiet Kyoto, you missed it by about 500 years. And the narrated Kyoto form Memories of a Geisha is not what I found in the heart of Japan. Shocked and sad I needed an escape. And I found it in Miyama, a lovely village one and a half hour outside Kyoto.
Staying in Miyama Heimat hostel was a special experience full of Japanese tradition and knowledge. Typical and spacious Japanese style rooms have the fluffiest blankets in Japan; the owners were friendly and welcoming, teaching us so many new things. More about this later.
This region is famous for thatched roofs, so on the second day we went to the village Kita (Kayabuki no Sato), which has the most houses with this special old style roofs. Strolling between the houses, we saw locals doing gardening (yes, every house has its own garden), the old mailbox and even a Shinto shrine, from where a nice view over the village opens up.
Two museums open doors for visitors almost every day – the Kayabuki no Sato Folk museum and Indigo museum. The first one is open and you can see different tools for cultivating. The Indigo Museum on the other hand is a workplace as well as an atelier of the Japanese artist Hiroyuki Shindo. He explained how Indigo is made, showed us his workshop and different techniques of indigo colouring. On the second floor he has a nice collection of indigo coloured fabrics from different countries (Africa, Asia, Europe, Central Amerika). Like 80% of the houses in this village, also his house has a thatched roof.
Back in Miyama Heimat, we enjoyed the sun in the hammocks, when a delicious dinner was served. Traditional dishes (which I don’t know the names), all prepared with local bio ingredients, were sublime! Because they only have 4 rooms, it’s a very intimate and family like atmosphere. The owners dined with us, explaining every dish and table-customs.
After dinner we continued the “Japanese-class” – macha making and how to drink it properly. So cool we learned this, because we grinded our own macha powder a few days ago in Kayana tea Museum.
The last and most fun lesson was Origami. I do this a lot at my work with children back home, but getting a lesson from a Japanese was priceless. She taught us how to fold a balloon (which can be actually blown up), a crane and a boat, which can be used for “magic”. 🙂 It was time to show off with my origami knowledge – I could fold a boat and a fish. At the end the lady folded a “poper” (from to pop), thinking we would see this for the first time. But surprise – surprise: we know this in Slovenia, as well the other girl from Singapore knew it.
It was time for shower and bed. In the morning after the delicious breakfast we could enter their attic. Seeing the roof from inside and up close was great, as we could make sure it’s true – they don’t use nails, just ropes to fix the roof. We said goodbye to the carpenter´s wife, hanging on the main pillar, descended back to the living space and headed to the train station. It was time to go back to reality.