The final place I was staying in Japan was Mine, a tiny town on the outskirts of Yamaguchi. Here I was staying with the Collins' in a converted cow-shed in rural Japan. This was quite a change from the hustle and bustle of all of the big cities I had been to before this, I could see stars in the night sky again! The crop most often seen growing in Japan is still rice and there were a few paddy fields around this area with clever drainage systems.
The variety of plants on the hillside here interested me, with different 'weeds' reigning supreme. Three very different types of invasive bamboo were proving to be a pest wherever the forest was cleared for landscaping the garden. One type had giant samplings and grew into bamboo shoots the height of the surrounding trees, whereas the other types were more of a shrub with interconnecting roots. We harvested the larger bamboo shoots or 'takenoko' and ate it later in the week which had a strange texture.
Other things I had more varieties of or tried for the first time here included fresh raw deer, lots of sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish), stingray and some more ramen and rice dishes. I was still finding it strange to adjust to the traditional Japanese cuisine but it was growing on me.
One of Yamaguchi's biggest attractions is the huge limestone caves at Akiyoshi, with only a small portion open to the public the cave system that we walked threw was still about a mile in length with lots of interesting structures formed from erosion and again even an elevator! Regrettably some of the more interesting sites in the cave were being eroded and made smooth by the erosion from the CO2 of all of the tourists going through the cave.
Above these caves the Akiyoshi-dai plateau area had really interesting rock formations from when the area used to be a coral reef, that were truly like nothing I had ever seen before.