Day two of adventure weekend began in Nishihara village and ended in good ole Yunomae. We woke up, Ian walked the dog, and we all stopped for a quick bit of breakfast at 7/11 before heading back to Aso. Ian wanted to go to the top of the volcano to take some pictures with his new flashy camera. The last time we were there it was August. I much prefer going during the summer. Everything was brown and dead on Sunday (pictures below). Plus it was FREEZING! We parked our cars and made the short walk up only to find out that it was –2 at the top (28 degrees Fahrenheit). Add in wind that nearly blows you over and…..BRRRRRR!!! Needless to say, we didn’t stay for very long…just long enough to get a couple of pictures and be on our merry way. Since it was so cold and the wind would be coming right at us on the walk down, we took the cable car. If we weren’t cold enough, we decided to get ice cream. There’s a reason for it! Aso cows are famous for the good quality milk that they produce, and the Aso area makes a milk flavored ice cream. It’s really, really good! Thick, rich, and creamy…..yum!
Ian and Justine were looking at a map of the Aso area at the cable car station, and they just happened to find a place called the “Soba Dojo.” (Soba is a type of noodle.) We all agree that it would be fun to eat lunch at a “dojo”, so we took an unknown route down the mountain, went on a wild goose chase, and found the restaurant. As it turns out, it was a soba training center in which restaurant goers learn how to make their own soba noodles, have them cooked, and then enjoy. It was a little expensive but well worth it! We each got to mix, knead, or cut our noodles (pictures below), and when our order came up, there was no denying that it was our food because the noodles looked like a beginner had made them. Some were thick while others were little skinny strips. There was no uniformity whatsoever. Our instructor (in the left picture) was really sweet and excited to see foreigners rolling out soba. It was a really fun experience that I’m glad we had! We even met another foreigner there. As we were finishing up, he approached us. As the only other foreigners there, I’m sure he was curious about us. His name was Jasper, and he was from Denmark. He had just graduated high school and was traveling all around Japan doing one homestay after another.
After our soba experience, we hit the road back to Kuma-gun. Since we avoided the expressway, we took the loooooong way home, which resulted in traffic jams. We spent the time laughing at the silly things other Japanese drivers were doing or making fun of Japanese car names, including the Honda That’s, Daihatsu Naked, Dingo, and Bluebird just to name a few. The night ended with us rolling back into Yunomae. After unpacking, finally washing the smoke smell from our clothes and bodies, and getting ready for the inevitable Monday, it was time for bed.