One of the festivals I wanted to check out while Mom was in town was the Azalea Festival in Hofu City. Back home in North Carolina, Wilmington has an Azalea Festival as well. I thought it would be cool to see how Japan does their azalea festival. I didn’t know if it would a street festival like we had been before or more of a quieter affair like the wisteria tunnels.
Hofu City is about a two hour drive from base. Mom and I decided to make it a girls’ trip while Jeremy was at work. We left mid morning and half why through the drive we started getting hungry. We pulled off at the first place that looked like a restaurant. In Japan it sometimes isn’t that obvious that some place is a restaurant when you are driving through the country. The place we pulled off at looked like it might be a type of fast food restaurant from the outside. When we walked in we were surprised to find out it was a much nicer place. The waiter sat us down at a booth and brought us some hot tea. After we ordered our lunch the waiter brought Mom some sesame seeds to ground in a little bowl. She had a fun time grounding them while we waited for our food.
Mom received a ramen meal set and I chose a stuffed deep fried pork meal. They both came with a purple colored rice, a corn soup shot, and some pickled veggies. Everything was delicious.
After a yummy lunch we hoped back on the road and continued towards Hofu City. Once I got to Hofu City, again we had to follow signs in Japanese but at least this time we were able to match the kanji to the name of the mountain where the Azalea Festival was. It was actually pretty easy to find it. After parking we started following a side walk that wrapped around the side of a mountain. We hadn’t seen any flowers yet so we were guessing this was the route. After walking about 20 minutes the sidewalk curved around the mountain some more and suddenly we saw half the mountain covered in azalea bushes just starting to bloom.
It was beautiful. As we followed the sidewalk around it open it up to a large flat area before the flowers. To the right the mountain went upwards with azaleas and to the left the mountain went downwards with a park laying a short walk down. We continued walking the sidewalk that continue to curve around the mountain to some seating areas that over looked the other side of the mountain. Down below was Hofu City.
After we hung out a bit enjoying the views we were waved over by an elderly Japanese woman. She wanted to know where we were from and what we thought of Japan. She spoke very little English but her care taker was willing to translate for us. She was very happy when we told her we loved Japan and that we thought it was the most beautiful place to live. She gave us hugs and wanted to take pictures with us. I was so excited to talk to her that I forgot to give my phone to someone to take a picture. Oops. But I did get one of the group before we left the area.
Before we left the park area, I checked out a pair of really cool totem poles that was by the path that went up to the azalea bushes. I have never seen a totem pole in person before let alone in Japan. They were beautifully craved.
Both Mom and I enjoyed our trip out to Hofu City. I hope to see it again. I may go back later this spring and see how it looks with the all of the mountain blooming. I have many things planed for this spring.