Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Typhoons and hiking

My legs and shoulders are still hurting from our hiking expedition on Sunday. We had planned to go camping for the weekend, but a large Typhoon decided to arrive on Friday night, forcing us to cancel that idea. It didn't actually hit our area in full force, but in other parts of Japan it was strong enough to overturn cars. In all the time I've lived here I've only been able to witness the edges of the storm, as the main Typhoon, which usually approaches from the south-west, is usually diverted to the north or south around the kansai-osaka region by one of Japan's southern islands.

We left at 5:30am for the mountains with most of Misaki's family. I carried Tyler around most of the day in a special back-pack thing, and while it wasn't that difficult at the time, I'm suffering for it now. We walked for an hour or two and stopped at this beautiful place on a bend in a mountain stream under a chestnut tree. All the streams and rivers were over-charged with cold, fresh water delivered by the Typhoon, and crossing some of them proved to be difficult. We got a fire going, distributed some drinks and set about barbequeing a wide variety of meats. I thought it would be a carnivors delight until some mushrooms hit the grill, but it was great fun buring bits of chicken and enjoying the smokey taste of the fire.

After lunch we all invaded the stream, which was surprisingly cold. In some places the water rose to waist or chest height and there was a nice pool at the foot of a small waterfall. I was a little dissapointed though at being advised against drinking the water, despite our apparent remoteness. We slept, made coffee, packed up and hiked back down the mountain after we'd eaten, drank, and swam to our heat's content.

The return trip was surprisingly fast and effortless, but we still managed to stop and appreciate some of the amazing undefiled forest and mountain streams. This was really the Japan that lives in the back of my mind, but the dream ends abruptly when the foot of the mountain gives way suddenly to the city of Sanomiya, a bustling metropolis which saw the deaths of more than 6,000 people in the last Kansai earthquake. After being totally immersed in a fantasy world of pristine nature, the site of so many giant buildings and the vast expanse of high-rise developments residing on a massive square of re-claimed land is really quite difficult to digest. Still, I came away with the memory of that mountain stream imprinted on my mind, refreshed and renewed.

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