Last Sunday Smith’s School of English, Tsukaguchi スミス英会話 塚口校 and Smith’s School of English, Kawanishi スミス英会話 川西校 held their joint Early Summer Event, a walk from Namaze 生瀬 to Takedao 武田尾. However, by the time we set off, the event included two other schools, Smith’s School of English, Ohtsu スミス英会話 大津校 and Smith’s School of English, Kamishinjyo スミス英会話 上新庄校, and their participation really made this a day to remember. I can’t thank Edward, Chiharu, Carol and Yuichi enough for bringing their lovely students along and really MAKING OUR DAY. When our party set out from JR Namaze Station 生瀬駅 there were eighteen of us.
The first part of the walk is along a main road which is rather busy. This makes the pleasure of the surprise, when you join the footpath along the river valley, even greater. Suddenly you forget the traffic and exhaust fumes as you enter an almost timeless landscape of river, running rapidly over rocks, between the green-covered mountains. I say almost timeless because the route follows a disused railway line, so there are old wooden sleepers (ties to my North American friends), and rusty old bridges to cross. This really is a spectacular walk, with landscape that really takes your breath away. Yet it is surprisingly easy to get to, being on the JR Fukuchiyama Line 福知山線, JR Namaze Station being only one stop from JR Takarazuka Station 宝塚駅. The route is quite well known, and there were several other groups (including a boy and girl scout troupe complete with banner) also having a great day out, but this never really effected our enjoyment.
The route follows a disused railway line (it must have been a beautiful journey), and follows the Mukogawa River all the way. There are also a number of tunnels, some of them quite long and dark, so we had to find our way using flashlights. Many of us brought cameras and I’m sure hundreds, if not thousands of photographs were taken. Edward even brought his old Canon film camera – imagine having to change film. We were also very lucky with the weather which got better and better as the day went on.
We stopped for our picnic lunch at about noon, a short distance from Takedao 武田尾. We were well entertained by a show of “magic” tricks which we all seemed to enjoy. From the outset, it was amazing how everyone, teachers, students, japanese and gaijin mixed and chatted. The atmosphere really was incredibly friendly and I know that I had such a good time mixing with teachers and students alike. The English was pretty good as well, even among the teachers.
Takedao 武田尾 is a tiny, old fashioned village on the banks of the Mukogawa. It has a few houses and small restaurants, and two ryokan, one very new and expensive, and one really old, seemingly out of another age. When we arrived we were all rather hot, and some of us looking forward to some kakigori かき氷, or a cold beer that I had mentioned in my soapbox invitation. Sadly, this restaurant was closed, and so was the next one. The third one was open, but althogh kakigori かき氷 was on the menu, they didn’t have any, so we all bought ice creams or ice candy and ate them outside.
A few of the students had to return home from Takedoa Station, and the rest of us went to soak our feet in the local ashiyu 足湯. Edward and I sang a couple of songs together (not very well) I think mainly because we knew the words. Then everyone apart from Derek, me and our wives left for home. The four of us took a stroll through the old part of Takedao up to the onsen. We decided not to bathe there as none of us had any fresh clothes.
We then returned home via Takarazuka where we stopped at the English Pub Sarah’s Count (more English in decor than any pub I have seen in England).
What a brilliant day; one of the best. Thanks to all of those who joined us and made it special.
Smith’s School of English, Kawanishi