Day 47: Getting to know a small Japanese town

Today was our day off. Celso and I went to the city of Ayabe. We took the 9:30 bus. The bus was tiny. Most of the passengers were aged people. Later, while in town we discovered that most of the town comprises of old people, which is well representative of Japan’s ageing population.
We first went to the tourist office and rented bicycles. Then, we went to a shrine which had a complex of gardens and buildings. Just outside its main building, there was a wooden plank facing a zen garden covered in moss. We sat there for quite a while and just talked. 
A moss covered serene zen garden by which we sat for a while. 

A temple that we found after walking uphill from the zen gardens of the complex 

 After that, we went looking for McDonalds to try Japan’s shrimp burger (locally known as ebi burger). We asked several people but couldn’t find it. Everyone we asked pointed us in a different direction. It was impressive that they could understand us in the first place. But it was ironic that Celso and I were working so hard to find Mcdonalds, which is one of the franchises that can be found literally everywhere. Finally, our hunger and the hot sun made us give up on Mcdonalds and postpone it to another day.

We went to a Japanese curry place for lunch where we faced some embarrassment in trying to understand the drinks on the menu. People around us were amused. 
After lunch we stopped by a super market for some fruit. We found boxed cut pineapple slices and bought them to share. They were so delicious. While buying the fruit I noticed that the cashier machine was automated in giving change. The lady at the counter inserted the money I gave her into the machine, and the machine automatically calculated the change and threw it out. Genius.
We went to a shawl factory museum. There wasn’t much in English. (Good thing we didn’t have to pay any entry fees!) When we got in, a lady came running after us with different shoes (which resembled toilet slippers) that we had to put on before going into the museum. 
A very realistic looking exhibit at the shawl factory

 After the museum, we still had some time left so we went to the downtown area and walked around there. Most of the shops were closed and the street was mostly deserted. We decided to go back to the first shrine we’d gone to and sit there for rest of the afternoon, since the bus only runs at specific times and the next one was 2.5 hours later.

The downtown street of Ayabe-devoid of people on a Wednesday afternoon. Many shops were closed and the area was pretty quiet, apart from the two noisy high school students we saw besides the grocery store and the cars driving by. 

Language barrier was certainly a problem today and I felt it more than I did anywhere else.We didn’t see any other tourists around and people on the street looked at us quite a bit. Many of the locals said hello to us.One couple even came to shake our hands. This behavior kind of reminded me of the way people in small towns (and sometimes even cities) of India react to foreigners. 
We got home around 6 and spent some time watching TED talks, after which we helped Sayaka-san make dinner. I made the miso soup today and it was surprisingly simple. All I had to do was cut vegetables and put them in boiling water. The miso was put in the end because if its put before, the flavor gets dissolved.