Behind me, I could hear the train departing. About four-and-a-half hours earlier, I had set out from bustling Tokyo Station. Now, I was virtually the only person at the ticket gate. This was fortunate as I struggled to coax my suitcase through the turnstile; the burgeoning bag bouncing off the barriers like a bowling ball down a bumper-clad lane.
To visit Kira no Sato is not like traveling to big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka or even the historic old capitol of Kyoto. To visit Kira no Sato is experience rural Japan, to stay in a traditional Japanese resort ryokan, complete with the air of rest and relaxation that it embodies.
All of Tokyo is a pedestrian paradise, with all corners of the metropolis accessible on foot thanks to one of the most intricate public transport systems in the world. But traveling by train and by foot can make it hard to get a handle on the overall geography of the city. Even the locals in Tokyo still get lost from time to time among the colorful shopping avenues of Harajuku or neon-lit streets of Shinjuku. There are a thousand things to do and sights to see on the streets of Tokyo every day, but to really get a handle on how the city moves as a whole, you've got to gain a bit of perspective.