Professor Kunio Awaga, group leader, extended his Japanese hospitality and offered to take me on a trip within a few hours of the city by car. I finally decided on the small town of Tsumago in the Kiso Valley. It is a classic Japanese village, full of trees with autumn leaves (a big deal over here, and unlike the UK it actually feels like autumn over here) and surrounded by mountains (I like mountains). Simon and Louisa came along as well, which made the trip more relaxing.
The town is of the Edo period and has been restored to this effect. Down the main street there are many souvenir shops and small eateries that are run by the ex-farmer residents, as the town is now more successful for tourism.
I also got my first experience of a proper Japanese restuarant, sitting cross-legged on the floor. I avoided the raw horse meat and instead got some soba noodles and a bloody marvellous glutinous rice cake on a stick flavoured with sweet soy sauce; I could seriously eat 10 of them. We then travelled a bit further to the town of Agematsu, and walked to the Nezame-no-toko gorge along the Kiso River.
Pretty rockin' formations, no? Looks like fun to be had in summer time, as you can clamber all over the marble rocks and the water is as clear as an emerald. Many Japanese travel around the country in Autumn to see the leaves change, and it's not hard to understand why...
Once we got back to Nagoya, Kunio took us for another meal at another Japanese restaurant. I ended up ordering a meal that was big enough for two, but I finished it all because it was so damn good. Two scenic destinations and two free meals? What a lovely day!