27 May 2010

Hiking in Tajimi

No, we didn't need to be rescued this time.

I found out from one of my students that there is a hiking path almost right off the train at a place called Jokoji. It's a very picturesque area – there's a river running right by the station which runs through a valley so there are high tree-covered hills on either side.

The trailhead is right across the bridge this picture was taken from (to the right). About a kilometer along the trail is a nice park with a huge pond and large shaded grass areas. A nice place to have a picnic – especially on a day off since it's only an hour from our place. We couldn't find where the trail continued from the park so we ended up following a road up into the mountains. We eventually came to a footbridge that crossed the road. The footbridge was part of the trail we were originally on. Back on track, we carried on.

Three kilometers along the trail we stopped to eat some of the food we had brought. Aimee and I both have fine taste – we ate Brie cheese and some kind of walnut bread. Very delicious. Sated, we continued along the trail, where we ran into our first Japanese snake.

He was originally on the trail but he moved much too quickly for me to catch him. Stop gasping – the only poisonous snakes in Japan are in Okinawa. He climbed this tree (it's about 4 meters high) in 30 seconds. From where he was perched he was able to watch as we took pictures of him. He also tracked us as we moved along the trail to change picture taking angles (but that doesn't worry you because you remember that they're not poisonous). It was really cool. Aimee would walk underneath him and I would watch as his head turned from one side to the other. Wanting to let him get back to sunning himself, we continued.

About four kilometers after we saw the snake the trail came to a crossroads and we weren't sure which way to go. There were sign posts but, as you all know already, my kanji reading isn't great. We picked the path that lead down the mountain and, a couple kilometers later, ended up at a strange natural history museum.

It says Nishiyama Natural History Museum. The “museum” consisted of a bunch of old fish tanks on this guy's lawn, a lot of junk, and some strange paintings strewn about the lawn and entrance. We poked our heads inside the building and there was more art hanging in a hallway. At the end of the hallway we could see a man sleeping. Fearing we would be invited in, we took our leave.

There were no more trails to be had so we had to walk along the road to get back to where we (thought) the train was. We ended up walking 15 kilometers along the road to a train station a couple stops up the line from where we originally got off. We've got 11 more months to work out this navigation thing – have faith!

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