***Part of my delay with getting these blogs updated is that I’m technologically inept when it comes to this site I am using! Sorry about the pictures…they are all mixed up and kinda all over the place, but hopefully you can still enjoy. I’ll get better, I promise 🙂
Brrrr! As I pedaled home tonight in the pouring rain having forgotten my rain jacket, for the first time since I arrived in Japan, I was cold….and it was FABULOUS! The heavy humidity and the daily deluge of sweat constantly gushing from my pores was enough to turn me into a hot, sweaty monstrous biatch. I have never welcomed the turning of the season as much as I am right now. The mornings and evenings have a cool crisp to the air, but the afternoon sunlight warms everything up enough to be “just right”. There is some subtle evidence in the foliage as a few leaves are just starting to turn; the rest will follow suit soon. Many people have told me that the fall season lasts for quite a while here and that the real cold doesn’t hit until we return from Christmas holiday. This is great because it allows me a couple more months to explore and actually experience a season change…it’s been seven years for me!
It’s been a long time since I have written and I have many adventures to share; some close to home and others a decent trek away. I’ll share as much as I can, but others may have to wait until next time. I know, I know…if I updated more often then I wouldn’t have so much to share. Stop lecturing me! J
This is a lovely hiking area about 2 hours directly west from where I am. Of course it took me about 2.5 hours because I hopped on the slow train instead of the rapid. I still haven’t quite figured that all out yet. I’m lucky enough if I get on the train going in the right direction. The morning somehow flew right by and I didn’t actually leave my place until noon; like that’s a surprise, right? As I mentioned in my last blog, this was my first real outing on my own. I have to admit that I was quite nervous; especially after two hours on the train and then second-guessing if I was on the right one! Others who had hiked Mt. Mitake before had told me to just follow all the people (Japanese really enjoy hiking and nature), but since I had such a late start the train was rather empty. The scenery on the train was beautiful. My first glimpse of Japan’s undeveloped nature and it was nothing short of breathtaking. The mountains are covered in deep green forest and they are massive and expansive. This is the Japan that everyone raves about and I started to feel giddy about exploring and simply getting out of the congestion that is Tokyo. Seeing the untouched mountainsides also made me understand why the people here value nature so much; not only is it beautiful, but you can escape your busy life in just a couple of hours and feel like you are in a completely different world.
Getting to the mountain posed some challenges, as I had to catch a bus and then a cable car to get to the start of the hiking trail. Well, let me be honest; I could have skipped the cable car and hiked my way up, but I didn’t want to. The bus was easy to find and so was the cable car. The cable car literally went straight up and I couldn’t have been happier with my decision to take it rather than climb the steep first leg of the mountain. As soon as you reach the top, you are immediately swept away by the views. The sprawl of mountains and valleys continued as far as the eye could see. If it didn’t take so long to get to it would be my place to escape from it all on a regular basis.
The hike itself was not very strenuous and since I started from the top my trek was mostly downhill. The colors were so vibrant…the greens literally looked as if they were glowing. I wish the pictures could show this. I reached the Rock Garden, which is simply an open area with a stream and rocks of all shapes and sizes; most covered in moss. Because of the dense foliage, the overall light seemed dim, but was illuminated by the fluorescent green tones of the moss. I knew it was getting late and I would lose all light pretty soon, but I was determined to make it to the waterfall. I could hear it and knew it couldn’t be too far, but every time I came around a bend it wasn’t there. I finally decided to turn around. At this point I wasn’t sure how long I had been hiking and since my return trip would be uphill I figured it would take a bit longer than coming down. I have never booked it so fast in my life. Sweat dripped from my face and my quads were on fire, but I had to get out of there before the sun went down.
I made it to the shrine before it became dark and luckily for me the rest of the trail to the cable car was lit so I could finally relax. On the way back home I was tired, sweaty (probably stunk too) and my stomach was yelling at me, but all I could think about was how excited I was that I finally trekked out on my own. I did it! I didn’t get lost and I finally got to see the beautiful side of Japan. The experience was empowering and I was now equipped with the knowledge that I can do this. I can make a life for myself here and truly enjoy it. Yay!