Travelling back to Japan was not as tiring as I thought it would be. I flew directly from Amsterdam to Narita, and fortunately I managed to sleep the entire flight! That rarely happens to me when travelling on long-haul flights, so I arrived in Tokyo feeling quite fresh! It took a good few days to recover my jetlag however. I was waking up and sleeping at the most crazy times. I would wake up at 1am not knowing whether to eat breakfast or a late supper. It feels good to be back in Japan though!
Leaving England was a lot easier than when I left in March. It was obviously still very difficult to say goodbye to my family and my girlfriend. My girlfriend was sobbing quite badly, which really made me feel guilty for going back. Distance is a difficult thing, but I know it will all be worth it in the end when we reunite again. In March, I had no idea what I was about to experience, and the feeling of not knowing was what made it terrifying. This time round, I knew where I was going and Japan almost feels like a second home to me now.
I mentioned before that travelling back to the UK made Japan feel like a dream. It felt like I had suddenly woken up from my dream and I was back to my old life in the UK. I’ve experienced this before when travelling to Korea and meeting a bunch of new friends at a summer exchange program. It’s a strange feeling, and it makes you question whether or not the trip actually happened. But this time, flying back to Japan was like re-entering a dream. You know when you suddenly wake up from a good dream, and you wish you could close your eyes and continue the dream? That’s kind of how it felt flying back. It’s making me dread the end of my contract when I have to leave Japan for good. I told myself that I wouldn’t get too attached to this place, but it’s easier said than done. I know it’s going to be super hard.
Not long after I arrived back in Japan, I went with a friend to see the Killing Stone (Sessho-seki 殺生石) in Nasu. In Japanese mythology, this stone was said to kill whoever went near it, and it was haunted by a spirit of a nine-tailed fox. Legend says that the stone killed birds and beasts which went near it. It was in fact, the volcanic gases in the air which was causing the deaths.
When arriving at the car park, we were hit by a heavy scent of what smelt like egg. I was told that the smell was from the sulphate in the air, and this was from surrounding vents and onsens.
There were hundreds of little stone statues of what looked like monks. They are known as Kshitigarbhas. I’m guessing that they were made to pray or protect people from the stone. Each Kshitigarbha appeared to be wearing a wooly hat of some sort.
In the photo below, the Killing Stone is the stone with the rope and white tassels. I was told that if you see something with this rope around it, a God is said to live within it.
We continued walking and came across a shrine. Here are a few photos I took.
Overall it was a really nice trip! Nasu seems like a really beautiful place, and it’s not too far from where I live. It’s famous for its mountains and onsens, which I hope I can try some day!