About the Author:
I have always loved traveling and seeking out new experiences. I moved to Japan in 2015 and I never run out of new places to visit, things to do and dishes to try. This country always has a few surprises up its sleeve and that's why I will never regret making it my home.
In Mie Prefecture,you can find some the most beautiful seaside landscapes in all of Japan. The combination of mountains and the ocean in one place is breathtaking. Add to that the vast array of locally sourced seafood, fruit, vegetables and other delicacies and you end up with one of the best places in Japan to spend some time exploring.
For me, the best way to experience and appreciate the natural beauty of the places I visit is jumping on a bike or putting on my running shoes and choosing a scenic route to check out. When I found out about the package combination of running a section of the Taiki TownSeaside Trail and then making brick oven pizzas at a traditional farm stay guesthouse, I knew I had to do it.
The Taiki TownSeaside Trail has multiple routes to choose from and for this package I ran along route of 23 km. The total time need to finish the route is between fourand five hours. The night before, I made sure to get a good sleep at my guesthouse and woke up early to eat a hearty breakfast so I would have the stamina needed for the run.
My transfer from my guesthouse to the start of the trail was included in the price the package. I was ready to go with water, some snacks and extra clothes in my backpack for after the run. Knowing that we would be making pizzas and having a small feast after the run definitely gave me something to look forward to.
When I was in Mie, the weather was perfect for running. It wasn’t too hot and of the fresh coastal air felt wonderful on my skin. I started my run shortly after 9:00 AM and it didn’t take long to finda good rhythm. The route had many elevation changes and took me through an amazing range of natural landscapes.
Caption: The trail route is diverse innature and gorgeous.
Running through the ancient trees in the forested areas was like going back in time. When running in the deep forest it was easy to imagine a world without technology and the demands of day-to-day life. When the trail burst out into the open and the ocean came into view, it was incredible. The fresh sea air and the gorgeous views of the mountains,oceans and seabirds pulled me along and kept me at my pace.
Taiki Town may be small in size, but it is home to a vast array of beautiful nature. The pristine Miyagawa River that flows by the town is considered to have some of the cleanest water in all of Japan and,in the spring, there are abundant azaleas in full bloom in the area.
On some parts of the trail, the tangled roots of the old growth forest and the knobbly tree trunks created natural sidewalls. In other sections, I was running at sea level with the water only meters from the path. As the trail rose and fell in elevation, I was rewarded withviews from remarkably different angles of the mountains, forests and ocean that makes Taiki Town such an outdoor lover’s dream destination.
Caption: The views of the ocean from some sections of the trail are breathtaking.
When I finished the route, someone was waiting to take me to the guesthouse that was hosting the pizza lunch. I was definitely spent from the run, but I felt clear of mind and ready for lunch. It was definitely a trail that I would like to run again in the future. After a short drive, we arrived the SANZUI guesthouse where we would be making brick oven pizzas with the guidance of the landlady.
Caption: After my run, I was taken to the SANZUI guesthouse.
Harumi Hama(I called her Hama-san), the owner of the guesthouse, greeted me warmly and showed me around. Along with her husband, she had set the guesthouse up perfectly and it was exactly the kind of place I like to stay at when traveling. The guesthouse was full of items that reflected Hama-san’s interests and passions. She is clearly a lover of all things Italian and I suppose that’s why she built the brick fire oven in her yard that we would be using to bake pizzas that afternoon.
Caption: SANZUI guesthouse is spacious and comfortable with a welcoming atmosphere.
Once we finished our tour of the guesthouse and I had a chance to freshen up a bit, everyone gathered in the bright and airy dining room to get started on making our much-anticipated lunch. Hama-san had pre-made the dough and there was a wide array of toppings ready for us to mix-and-match on our personal pizzas. I was more than ready to get started.
Some of the locally sourced toppings that we could choose from included shirasu (boiled and partially dried baby sardines), greens from local farms and homemade pizza sauce made my Hama-san herself. Our host also had a large basil plant in her dining room that we could use to add some fresh flavor to our creations.
The first step was to roll the dough and make the base for our pizza. Hama-san was clearly an expert who had done this hundreds of times before. She made it look easy, but I’ll be the first to admit that my initial attempt didn’t look so great. Of course, as with most dishes, the appearance of my pizza had no negative effects on its flavor.
Caption: Hama-san was an expert at preparing the pizza dough.
As we took turns building our pizzas, Hama-san told us which combinations of toppings worked well together. There was even some Gorgonzola cheese, which is not something you come across very often in Japan. Being a cheese lover, I was excited about the bold flavors my pizzas would be able to deliver.
Caption: The sauce was homemade and had a perfect blend of herbs.
Caption: Our host even had fresh basil for the margherita pizza.
Once each pizza was ready to be cooked, we would take it outside to the custom brick oven in the garden. Hama-san and her husband had created an incredible outdoor cooking area in the garden of their guesthouse.
Caption: The guesthouse sits on a ridge, overlooking the river.