A Visit to Hidaka, Saitama

In Japan between the 14th of September and the 29th of September there’s a festival painted in red located outside of the city center in rural Japan. If you can get over your fear of wicked eight legged insects than don’t hesitate to seek out the Kinchakuda Red Spider Lily Festival.

Traveling, while sometimes daunting can be a beautiful and amazing thing. It takes you on an adventure, often times with ups and downs, and leaves you with memories that you know you’ll never forget. This is just one example of those amazing times.

I gathered a small group of friends after classes ended on Saturday morning and we made the lengthy 2 hour trek to Hidaka, Saitama located in the beautiful country side of Japan. Outside of knowing the final destination none of us had traveled much outside of Tokyo since arriving for University. This was our first big excursion out on our own and we loved every minute of it.

The countryside was stunning and a real sight to behold. It was a nice change of scenery compared to all of the buildings one only sees when located inside the city. The air tasted sweeter, the leaves looked greener, and the tranquility was a nice change of pace. Red Spider Lilies colored the ground most anywhere you looked and everyone was basking in their beauty. There were even a few that were all white. They were stunning and stood out quite well against all of the red.

Fun Fact: In Japan the Red Spider Lily blooms in late Summer and August and it’s often treated as a welcoming of the Fall season. Another name for it is “Corpse flower” so be wary when thinking about giving this beautiful flower to someone since it’s also associated with death.

Of course, all this stunning scenery meant countless people were posing for pictures so I had to get in on it as well!

There were countless little stands put up all around on the pathway leading to the festival and food galore at the actual site. Of course that meant that I had to try every single thing! Okay, maybe not everything but the chicken was delicious and so was the ice cream I split with a friend.

One thing to note: when you come to Japan always try the chicken. I have not had one bad piece since coming here. It’s all outstanding and now I’m regretting not snapping a picture of the scrumptious food. Rookie mistake.

Outside of just food, there were also other stands set up for selling goods such as tea, wooden blocks, and just beautiful handmade trinkets in general. There was also a small show being put on with people wearing traditional clothing and dancing. The show was beautiful and everyone was in perfect sync with one another.

While my group did get split up along the way, it was a nice treat to have gotten lost outside the festival and walk on the back roads of Hidaka. Everything was quiet and you could see for miles on end of lush, green mountains. It was amazing and a trip that I’m glad I made. There were times I was worried about traveling so far away even though I was with friends. It’s always hard to shake that initial fear of going into the unknown but if travel has taught me nothing else it’s that if you push that small fear to the side and banish it you’ll see the amazing journey lying on the other side. Had I let my fear win out I never would have gotten the chance to see the Spider Lilies, make great memories, or gotten to know my fellow exchange students better. I feel proud to say that I’ve made some great friends during this study abroad and it’s not even a full month in yet! There are still many more adventures to come so be on the lookout for them right here on this blog!

Side note: While the three of us had been lost on the back roads of Hidaka this car drove past us and these two old men just yelled out hellos and laughed their asses off in the process. It was quite the experience and one that made our day even better.

Also, I couldn’t let my day end without tasting actual Dango. I mean come on, it was a festival. There were nice stands at the venue for the festival that offered the delicious treat but I held out for the small stand I’d seen on the way in. There’s something about little local business and side carts like this one that make the experience all the more real. Not only was it 200 yen cheaper I have no doubt in my mind that it was also 10 times tastier. This is a quick shot I took of my friend as she ate her own tasty treat.

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