CAREFUL

Danger lurks above.

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SAKE WITH FISH, JAPAN

Grilled. Shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 28-70mm f/2.8.

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I have been playing around with black and white lately. Not sure if I like sake in green or B&W?

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RANDOM NAKED MAN, JAPAN

Hidden behind some trees, near the river at the base of Mt. Mitake and looking quite Anglo-Saxon in origin.

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Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Japan remains a mystery.

After 16 months here I still cannot figure out why every single shirt in Japan is imprinted with some form of English brand, wording or English slogan.

We live on Mars (smile)

ORDER UP, JAPAN

More than a year has gone by and things in Japan do not feel so confusing. Walking into a Japanese restaurant that does not have a English menu or the more common “picture menu” is no longer a big deal … just start spurting out “grilled-fish” or “tempura” and there is a high probability of getting a good lunch.

I still remember my first time with a machine like this. It was in a park and the no-English speaking lady at the counter was a great help trying to figure things out.

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In a culture that is crazy for automation and vending machines, this is a logical next step. It is a restaurant ordering machine. You pick what you want, the meal or drink – including choices such as sake (bottom left), and out pops your chit. Walk over to the window and a few moments later, your meal is served.

I like the process because it has pictures.

CLIMBING MOUNT MITAKE PART III

 

After lunch we headed up the mountain to the shrines. There are all kinds of shrines.

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Our tour guide did a great job of describing them, I did a poor job of writing down what they were. I just took pictures ….

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The colors were spectacular.

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Japanese maples are prized in Canada, because they often do not survive in the harsh winter. Their leaves are very elegant.

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A hidden face carved into the stairs.

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At the shrine you can purchase your fortune. If you do not like what it says you tie it to this wall and the monks will burn it, banishing the bad fortune. The wall was very full …

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The shrines are hundreds of years old and beautiful.

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If I remember correctly, this one is dedicated to the Emperor.

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Very old.

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And beautiful.

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NOVEMBER! Did I mention at the top of a mountain? Flowers!

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A fun fact on why so many people suffer from hay fever in Japan:

Hay fever was relatively uncommon in Japan until the early 1960s. Shortly after World War II, reforestation policies resulted in large forests of cryptomeria and Japanese cypress trees, which were an important resource for the construction industry. As these trees matured, they started to produce large amounts of pollen. Peak production of pollen occurs in trees of 30 years and older.[1] As the Japanese economy developed in the 1970s and 1980s, cheaper imported building materials decreased the demand for cryptomeria and Japanese cypress materials. This resulted in increasing forest density and aging trees, further contributing to pollen production and thus, hay fever. In 1970, about 50% of cryptomeria were more than 10 years old, and just 25% were more than 20 years old. By 2000, almost 85% of cryptomeria were over 20 years old, and more than 60% of trees were over 30 years old. This cryptomeria aging trend has continued since then, and though cryptomeria forest acreage has hardly increased since 1980, pollen production has continued to increase.[2] Furthermore, urbanization of land in Japan led to increasing coverage of soft soil and grass land by concrete and asphalt. Pollen settling on such hard surfaces can easily be swept up again by winds to recirculate and contribute to hay fever. As a result, approximately 25 million people (about 20% of the population) currently suffer from this type of seasonal hay fever in Japan.

Once past the shrines, we went for a hike along the ridges. Big hay fever causing trees were everywhere.

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And this guy was nowhere to be seen. He definitely was not cutting the trees down.

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At one point we climbed up a large rock to see this guy.

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Via a chain and these beautiful, polished tree roots.

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As you would expect on a mountaintop, it is very peaceful.

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And they were nice enough to carve steps for us to climb on the hiking trail.

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With random shrines along the way.

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As we finished the hike, we stopped off to enjoy some hot sake.

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And marvel at the Japanese love of their dogs. Every dog was dressed for the chill. Every single dog … (smile)

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A wonderful way to spend a fall day.

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CLIMBING MOUNT MITAKE PART II

 

Once off the cable car you have a host of choices, continuing the trek to the top level of the village and Musashi-Mitake Shrine and/or picking one of many hiking trail.

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The view of the Japanese countryside is spectacular. I learned that only 20% of Japan’s land mass is liveable, with the population living on only 8%. The hills show you why.

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As we hiked to the village we passed through many traditional Japanese buildings and traditional Japanese inns. I plan on coming back here to spend a night.

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This building is occupied by the descendants of a shogun. In fact, the 140 or so residents are all original descendants with the homes and businesses passed down through the ages.

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One of the few English signs.

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Our first stop was the village at the top where we enjoyed a wonderful meal of soba noodles and tempura while looking out at the colors. The tree beside us was hundreds and hundreds of years old.

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Of interest, it was November .. on the top of a Japanese mountain .. and the flowers will still blooming.

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The village street … where we could purchase tourist items or a wide range of local sweets and foods (on the way out, we loaded up).

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CLIMBING MOUNT MITAKE PART I

 

While the boys were on their class trip I took a few days off to tour around Tokyo with Narda. We joined a tour group heading to Mt. Mitake. We were “tourists” in the midst of the Tokyoites on their way to work.

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“Climbing Mt. Mitake” entails taking a 90 minute journey by train to the base of the mountain (with a few changes in between) and rushing out of the station to one of the waiting buses that ferries you to the bottom of the mountain. I say rush as the only people on the train were people with the same idea. Turns out that Mt. Mitake is a popular destination as people travel to the top to visit the shrines.

The village is quite beautiful, with a river running through.

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At the top, you disembark at the gates, of course.

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It was also fall with the trees in full color.

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The journey to the top had several stages. A steep cable car ride to the first village level. This is the view from the top.

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As we stepped into Mitakesan village an older gentleman was selling his wares. Only 500JPY ($6) for a fish. I resigned to get one on the way back as Japanese charcoal cooked fish is spectacular, but I waited to long .. when I returned they were gone.

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The trees were in full color as we headed to the second part of the village, resting atop the mountain.

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