Updated: Jul 25
Kon'nichiwa......the last time I wrote my blog for A Deer Cottage, we had left the rolling hills of Kaukapakapa overlooking the gorgeous Kaipara Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand, where we have fallow deer dotting our pretty little rural setting, to swap our next month in Kyotango, Kyoto prefecture, Japan, to catch up with our son, his wife, and newborn baby girl Luna. I had no idea at that stage, Lachlan would have more deer surrounding his home, snakes, spiders, killer wasps, mosquito and bear than I could imagine....I also had no idea, he would like me to get into his garden to help them clean it up, and to add length to a lovely kiwi 100% wool jumper, I also had no idea we would be hitting temperatures regularly of high end 28+ degrees.......However, the biggest thing I had absolute certainty over, was the love I would feel for seeing my son, his wife and meeting little Luna would feel like, and how tough it will be next Thursday when we make the trek back to Tokyo to fly home to New Zealand.
Can you spot Aiko and Desireé sitting happily in Luna's bedroom, I'm glad to see they made their safe trip to Japan..... I am also loving all the greenery that surrounds us everywhere we go, the rice paddies are looking so lush and seem to be growing rapidly in the warmth and rain!
We all were super happy to have the Kounotori (Oriental Stork) come to visit - I wonder if one of these storks was involved in bringing Luna to us all?
Te Kani and I have been so very grateful that Lachlan, Hisae and Luna have just fit us into their perfect existence, it makes this Mum so very proud to see how happy and contented they all are, and in between all this happiness and joy, they manage to take us on some pretty cool trips. And some of it, just a few minutes walk from their home - an abandoned campground at the end of their road, where the wildlife is a little scary, especially if you are from New Zealand where we do not have any poisonous creepy crawlies, other than the Katipo spider which I am not sure if it even exists....when walking through the forest, Lachlan tells me to look out for the bear up in the trees, watch where I walk in case I step on a snake...he is waving a stick in front of him, to disturb the spider webs..and I am most conscious, "did I put on my mosquito spray?, have I got my adrenaline?" and I have an ear out for the Suzumebachi (Japanese Killer Hornet), through all of this, I am wanting to go a little further to see what is around the next bend.
One of the most special moments for me, has been able to visit the Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples, especially when Japan is so quiet from visitors coming to their most beautiful country. The day after we arrived, we walked just a few minutes up the road, to a peaceful Shinto Shrine, we could make these visits all the more special being able to take Luna with us, and for the Priest to be able to bless her and her family, was a priceless experience at the Motoise Kono Shrine at Miyazu.
Hisae and Lachlan bought Te Kani and I some beautiful Yukata (Summer Kimono) and we have been able to wear them with pride not only at the Onsen (Japanese public bath), but also at the magnificent fireworks display at the Hamasaka beach festival. These two trips will forever leave a lasting memory. I was quite nervous to enter the Kinosaki Onsen by myself, but I had absolutely no reason, what a liberating experience this turned out to be, one I wish I could frequent more often! and I am sure when we return, one that will be on the top of our list.
It was a perfect opportunity for Lachlan to catch up with some of his International friends when we took the trip out to Hamasaka, I thought I had seen some pretty cool fireworks in my time, but I was very mistaken when we went to the Hamasaka beach festival, the first in the area to open up after covid, the crowds of 30,000 really did not feel like that at all, we fit in quite comfortably and watched in wonderment after grabbing some yummy Japanese street food, we settled in for the two hours of fireworks and good company. After all the celebrations finished we walked back to Lachlan's friends house to wait for the traffic to subside before we made the two and a half hours drive back to Kyōtango.
As I mentioned previously the Shrines,Temples and Castles we have visited will leave me with a feeling of peace and tranquility, the incredible architecture of the castles built many centuries ago, hold fast with a sense of awe, the history is just so amazing, and the grounds around all these special places are impeccably worked, I can only imagine how many hours are put in to maintain the upkeep. The golden walls and adornment of the Kinkaku-ji Temple is painted with gold leaf; the vivid red of the Kiyuomizu-dera Temple; the strong stone walls surround the moats at the Nijo-jo and Himeji Castles, the magnificent huge wooden floorboards, are just so impressive, along with the collection of muskets. I was so interested to hear about the half fish/half dragon that adorn either end of the roof to protect the castle from fire, so fascinating!
And of course, I have to mention the Japanese food, the sushi train, the soba, ramen, udon, octopus, bbq, and delicious authentic meals that have been cooked for us, it is such a wonderful experience to eat with Lachlan, Hisae and Luna, the culinary art is evident everywhere we go, and as an added bonus to be in the country my son has chosen for his home, to meet his friends, neighbours and work colleagues, this has been incredibly heart warming, they have all taken Lachlan under their wing, his knowledge of the Japanese language and culture is a real credit to him, it really gives me much joy that he is so contented and settled , I love to hear all the banter and laughter in the conversations he has with his many friends.....all of this is going to make it difficult to say goodbye...
As the month has progressed I have occasionally posted on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, on one particular post, I noticed some one had liked my A Deer Cottage post from the same area where Lachlan lives, I noticed that we had some mutual friends back in New Zealand, and that he also ran an accommodation Lodge for guests visiting.
I decided to get in contact with Hamish from Asobilodge who promptly invited us out for a visit, a couple of days later we took the 20 minute drive to the seaside village of Asobi, and met Hamish from New Zealand, Nora his Australian wife, and their two lovely girls Georgia and Phoebe, and also their menagerie of Saanen goats, and kitty cats. We had a brilliant time, Hamish and Nora's hospitality was outstanding, we had a refreshing Asahi beer together, and took some delicious homegrown telegraph cucumbers back to Kyotango.
We look forward to return the favour when Hamish comes back to New Zealand on a mix of business and pleasure.
Check out Hamish's other venture which he is bringing to New Zealand.... antique Japanese beams of timber, recycled from old houses and buildings, I can imagine these beautiful, strong beams full of character would look amazing in any build, check out the website here
If you wish to check out the Asobi Lodge located in the tiny fishing village of Asobi, with the 5.0 reviews and receive the same hospitality that Te Kani, Lachlan and I received from Hamish and Nora make sure you check out Asobi Lodge here or you could also follow Asobilodge on Instagram.
Nine years ago, Hiroki a Japanese exchange student, came to stay at our home in Kaukapakapa, New Zealand, and when we knew our Travel Visa had been approved for Japanese travel, I sent Hiroki a message to ask what part of Japan he lived, I was very excited to hear, he lived a few hours drive away in Kyoto, and Lachlan said he was going to take us to Kyoto anyway. A few days ago, we went to Kyoto and met up with Hiroki, the last nine years melted away, and Te Kani, Lachlan and myself had a lovely meal of ramen noodles we chatted and laughed together, until Lachlan said we had better get going.
Yesterday, Lachlan took us to meet his work colleagues, a wonderful morning, Te Kani and I both saw how valued Lachlan is, even with limited English and Japanese between us, Lachlan was a wonderful translator, it was as if nothing was stopping the conversation, the hospitality his colleagues showed us was incredible, we had tea wherever we went, and little gifts to bring home.
We then spent the afternoon with Shunji. Shunji helped Lachlan with the Japanese language when he first arrived in Japan over 6 years ago, and I subsequently forged a friendship through Facebook. Shunji and Lachlan decided to take Te Kani and I Ten Pin Bowling in Toyooka, a wise choice on their behalf, as they both are very accomplished bowlers and whipped us easily!
Today Lachlan, had a Community meeting, when he came back from the meeting, his neighbour was wishing to speak with me, he stated that the Community wanted to host a special dinner for Te Kani and I, however with covid it had to be cancelled, I told him, not to worry, we will be back. When he came to leave, he asked Lachlan if we could have a photo together, and he then gave me two gorgeous wall hangings - the warmth from everybody we have come across has been just so wonderful.
This time next week, we will be high in the sky somewhere between Japan and New Zealand, I am sure many tears will be shed as I say "until next time" to Lachlan, Hisae and Luna, however, I also know I am leaving Japan content in the knowledge that Lachlan and Hisae are absolutely fabulous parents, Luna is a dream come true, and their lives are so very complete.❤️.
I would like to say arigato gozaimasu to everyone in Japan that has made our trip such an incredible experience! We look forward to our return to Japan, and also to welcome back our guests to A Deer Cottage on our return to New Zealand. If you wish to check out our website click here You may also wish to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. 🦌❤️🦌
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