Chiiori, is a 300 year old mountain farm house set on a steep incline. Even the drive up to it was a struggle for my little yellow plate car, I can't imagine what it must be like to walk or ride there.
There are not many luxuries but I like it that way. I felt like I was camping within an old house, actually it was exactly that. There are two original, traditional fire places within the house. These have to be lit daily to help cure the thatch roof and keep away animals and creepy crawlies. The fires make Chiiori a very smoky place in which to be, but oh what fun. The thatched roof costs somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000 to replace and needed to be replaced about two years ago. Alex talks about the last rethatching in his book. This occurred 18 years ago. The thatching should last around 50 years if cured properly. For approximately 10 of the last 18 years, Alex used the house only occasionally and therefore lit the fires occasionally. As a result the roof needs rethatching now!
If you want to get clean, you have to drive approximately 25 minutes down the road to the local onsen. The onsen itself was a real treat. It belongs to a hotel. You take the lift to the third floor, at this point, you can take an indoor bath or get on a cable car and travel up the cliff for the rotenburo (outdoor bath). The rotenburo is set in the cliff face and was a wonderful experience.
You walk down to Chiiori from the car park. Lots of fun, especially at night when we went to the onsen. Lots of us tried to walk by the light of our mobile phones. This was quite difficult as I am sure you can imagine what little light phones actually give off!
The resident dog, Jackie Chan. Jackie has been living at Chiiori the longest of all the volunteers. He was lovely. Dad, you would have loved him!