JAPAN IN THE SUMMER
From Fuji-san to Asama Yama
Lovely views on the top row, intersting tree growth patterns at the lower parts.
But the lower row shows how far we have to go, seems close - but at the same time so far.
They say not to look up because it will sem you are not getting anywhere ... they are right.
If you click on the pictures, you can see some of the trail made of switchback iron barricades.
At Station #7 we find a skier, must have hiked up the night before in time for sunrise and then skied down what little snow was at the peak.
You could see his tracks - not real sure what he did once he hit the scree! Anyway, we caught him napping that afternoon.
Check out the vintage skis - I guess I wouldn't use good ones either.
Well, despite getting farther than we expected once we arrived, the crater edge still eludes me. It is a long hike because you can not go straight up. The path is designed to accomodate thousands of people in a matter of two months. And as usual, there was drama and adventure. Don't ever take advice from a german chick with a brother carrying up a suitcase (and no intention ofstaying the night???). Needless to say, we finally made it back to the station we started from (not our intentions) about four hours after the last bus went down. The 5th station was pretty deserted - but we managed to find a young couple willing to drive us down the mountain - great kids!
Asama Yama, on the other hand, is an active volcano erupting just last year.
It is the volcano that covered the nearby land with over a million cubic feet of lava, producing a quite dramtic lava park.
There are signs forbidding entrance within 1km, but they happen to be in Japanese, and not just the simple Hirigana letters. I had done quite a bit of research and it still seemed acceptable to get to the top despite the 1km supposedly roped off trail. Again, needless to say, the trail was not roped off and I got pretty close until two saavy natives talked me into turning back because the gas fumes were particularly active this day.
Shiriato Falls near Asama (turns out all falls like this are called Shirato since it just means white falls), an homage to tha Asama peak and her her smaller neighbor done in true Japanese Festival fashion, and a lantern at the Oni Oshidashi Lava Park.
It was quite amazing to see the fresh green life coming up out of absolute desolation in the lava park.
That is the sign that apparently warned of going farther. Nice try... I guess they figure tourists would never find their way here.
Hmmm - I am not your average tourist, am I?
One of the saavy natives who actually gave me a ride back to Kariuzawa and spoke of Hummer dreams - of course, being to Fuji's peak I imagine he would use a Hummer in the way it is intended. The picture shows his fascination for the quite rare blooms that are only found at these high altitudes.
Sitting in between two skyscrapers downtown is a contrasting old world splash of color. A local cemetary not even on the map. Most of the tombstones seem to have the same family clan decoration. The skis that flank the graves are prayers to carry with them. On some of the graves is a sake or tea glass, in some cases a milk carton. It is standard tradition to include something the person loved. They have pots/chambers to burn large packets of outdoor incense and I think the water buckets are for washing the graves.
The Sengaku-ji is a temple that commemorates the 47 Ronin. There was a dispute between two samurai masters resulting in the ordering of one to commit sepuku (ritual suicide) but not the other. The masterless samurai were so distraught, they avenged their master's death by capturing the other master, beheading him, and bringing his head back to their master's grave. The fountain in the pictures are where they actually washed his head before presenting it to their dead master. Of course, the 47 Ronin then had to commit sepuku and the many graves lined up in a row are theirs.
Susan N. Freeman
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LAST UPDATE: 16 FEB 05