Saturday, November 20, 2010
9 a.m. and the sun starts to burn off the mist that fills the valleys and blankets us all night long. It promises to be a fine day as I head across the river to catch the train downstream to Gotsu Honmachi where my mountain walk begins.
I head out of Honmachi by the ancient San'indo, the road that once connected the capital in Asuka with this region. Then I head up the slope of Star Mountain.
It takes less than an hour to reach the pass at 300 meters, and from then on its downhill all the way to the river at Kawahira.
I love these mountain roads. More like wide hiking paths as there are no vehicles.
The forest and vegetation is thick, and only rarely can I catch glimpes of a vista, so for Fall colors best to look up.
There are no villages up here in the mountains, nor hamlets, only the occasional isolated homestead. If 2 or 3 are in close proximity then for sure they are relatives. A different breed of people. More independent, more self-sufficient.
Maybe half the homesteads are now empty.
About halfway down there is a small shrine on the hillside across from a big Gingko tree. When I first walked this way some years ago I stopped in at the shrine, as is my habit, and found it fairly dilapidated, so I was surprised this time to hear the sound of hammering and power tools as it appears it is being renovated. I would guess there are about 6 families left in this area, so it is good to see that they still care about the shrine.
Getting lower in altitude the valley starts to widen a little and I reach the "suburbs" of Kawahira.
To be continued