My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Images from my outings over the past week of 19/1-to-25/1.

   Most of my outings are planned. They need to be, especially when it comes to telling my loved-one where I am heading-off to. But there are times when all that goes out the window and I head-off on one of my "getting lost" trips. That's what happened last Saturday 21st January. I discovered a mountain road that I never realized existed, and off I went.
My kinda' environment.
This is me to a tee. Stopping when I feel like it, taking-in the environment, listening to the sounds (or in this case, the lack of them) and feeling healthier in the process.
   If I thought this was awesome, something just as spectacular was about to appear further along the track. 
Tamatsuoka-jinja Shrine and Stage.
  My track looked like it was about to exit into a village, when I noticed a side-track and took it.I emerged into the grounds of Tamatsuoka-jinga. Looking around me I felt awestruck that a complex existed in such an isolated location. If you look behind the statue, you will see an avenue of twenty-seven vermilion colored Torii. I will place this site on my "must return" list.
   I have this "thing" about the Elements and Mother Nature (I am in the process of composing a post on this subject) and their awesome and unpredictable power. This image on the right is an example of what can happen and how vulnerable we are when their power is unleashed. Most of the landslide has been moved away, but I could see what area it covered. These instances don't give any warning. 
Where I'm heading - Map Location.
Where Photo Was Taken - Map Location.
Tuesday 24th January and I head to the hills for a bit of cycling amongst the snow. Looking out from our balcony, I could see the hills surrounding Kyoto had a fresh coat of snow on them and, once I got all kitted-up, I was on my way. The view, as I cycled along the Yodogawa River cycle-way (in the above image) looked so inviting I couldn't wait to get amongst it. Having cycled in this area many-a-time, I knew I was in for some serious hill-climbing. But, what the hell.
Road-side Lanterns Approaching
Yokoku-ji Temple.
Map Location.
   After I reached the plateau, after my first hill-climb (Route-79), I struck my first lot of snow. It wasn't much, but very beautiful none-the-less. I could also feel the temperature drop slightly. From this point the road ascends from 249m to 253m in just 2.6km and becomes more sheltered. And much more colder. The temperature must have dropped below zero in that short distance as my toes became cold, as-well-as my fingers and, also, my ....... Here I had to pull   my neck-warmer up over my nose, which is a pain-in-the-ass as it fogs-up my glasses, and my head-warmer down over my ears. God-knows what I must have looked like.
Ozawa-cho Village.
Map Location.
   The village of Ozawa is the junction for several tracks leading to-and-from Pon-Pon Yama (Mt Pon-Pon), a favorite destination for many of the local hiking fraternity.As you can see in the above image, there is a lot more snow about and I have to be cautious of the road surface as it begins to descend (the road descends 100m in just 1.5km).
Kawakubo-cho Village.
Map Location.
As I was passing-through the village of Kawakubo-cho I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a large concrete Torii and was curious where the road, that passed under it, went to. This was my cue to venture off the road and go bush (or in this case, forest). 
Map Location.

   Partway through the forest I spotted a trail branching-off the road and wondered where it led to. It was the beginning of a hiking track and, as you can see in the photo, it offered a fine view of the surrounding area. Mmm, curiouser -and-curiouser. But, I must move on (maybe I shall return). 
  A hundred-or-so meters along, and the road came to a (familiar) junction where a sign, with the Kanji Character for Temple on it, provided me with an ideal opportunity to stop for a break - a hot coffee and bread-rolls.  
Entrance to Motoyama-ji Temple.
Map Location.
Gate, entrance to Motoyama-ji Temple.
Map Location.
   After a 2.6km x 217m hill-climb ( I was gasping for breath after) I arrived at the entrance to Motoyama-ji Temple (I used the word "familiar" earlier. I have used this track several times descending from Pon-Pon Yama). It was colder, I was feeling knackered, I was hungry, but all that went-out the door as I entered the complex. With all the snow lying-about, this was an "outdoorholic's" dream location. The temple is located 502m on a mountain and is part of the "Tokaido Trail". The complex deserves more time to wander around and view the grounds and so, in saying that, I have placed this on my "must return" list.
Yours Truly at Motoyama-ji Temple.
   As I was about to depart, a few flakes of snow began to fall and I was reminded of my steep descent I had ahead of me (a descent of 479.1m in 4.3km) and, as the road is a popular destination for those on a pilgrimage to the several shrines and temples in the area, I thought it better to move-on.
End of the Road.
Map Location.

I found an ideal location to stop for that long-awaited coffee & bread-rolls, while admiring the view (normally when I stop for this reason, I like to sit and admire the view but, on this occasion, my view was spoiled by the mess of a motorway construction-site). A footnote to this photo - to get from where the camera is located to where I am posing, is a distance of about 20m, which included a jump over a barrier, and I had 10-seconds to do it in. The couple, about to pass-under the Torii, wondered "what the hell was this guy up to", until they saw the camera. I got a very polite konnichwa as they passed. Oh how I love the Japanese.
   This trip is dedicated to my late Father-in-Law, who passed-away on this date 7-years ago. I am sure, if he was still alive, he would have been with me. But he was, in spirit. And I miss him so. Tonight I will be burning an incense and praying for him at his alter.

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