I’ve been living in Japan for about 8 years now and running my Smith’s school franchise for most of that, but I can remember only one summer here. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first and most obvious reason is that I only ever stayed here for one summer. I always opted for cool and dry Canadian summers. The other reason was that it was one of the best summers of my life. I’m not a huge fan of hot and humid weather, but that summer I learned that there are lots of wonderful things to do in Japan. I was aware of the more common summer activities such as the festivals, fireworks and beer gardens, but this was the first time I was asked to go camping.
It was the summer of 2001 and I was living in Osaka-city at the time. Camping was the last thing I could imagine doing near Osaka. My Japanese friends assured me that there wouldn’t be over crowding as I had often experienced at various events in Japan, so I agreed to go. Wow, was it ever a great decision. They took me to a place called Totsukawa in Nara. It was only about a 2 hour drive including the stop for groceries. When we got there, I was amazed at the spot they had found for us near a small waterfall. There were plenty of trees for shade and several trails for the genki types. It was so hot outside, but it was nothing a quick dip in the river couldn’t change. It was unbelievable and may be one of the best camping spots I’ve ever been too in my life. It wasn’t just the spot though. My Japanese friends also cooked up some great Japanese food and provided top notch entertainment while we sat around the fire all night long. The only bad thing I remember was my sore back from sleeping on rocks and a bit of hangover, but it was all cured with a quick trip to the nearby onsen the next day. It was all simple, cheap, and incredibly fun.
This year, I’m not going back to Canada. I’ve decided to revisit Totsugawa for a few more hot summer days. I hope I can find that little spot by the waterfall and dive in. If I can’t, I guess I’ll just have to settle for the kiddy pool in my back garden.