Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Explorer's Headache

We had a unexpected glorious morning. So exploring I would go. I picked a temple called Yamazumi on the map as my destination. I chose a couple of side trips as well. One is Myojin Gorge and the other was Japan's largest tengu mask. I gather that a tengu is similar to a goblin. So I drive up 152 looking for something to point me in the right direction. 152 is the one that goes to Hamakita and Tenryu. But this is significantly past Tenryu. But I keep going and keep going for about an hour. I decided I went too far and I drive back and try a road over to a city with the Goblin Mask. Nope a couple of kilometers in its closed. So I get back on 152 and take another road to Haruno. It ends up coming to a T intersection and the roadsign is so worn out it is illegible. So I turn around and go back to 152. I go all the way back to Tenryu. I've now been driving for 2 and a half hours. But the countryside is lovely, and it would be an absolute shame to waste the weather. So I head up another road to Haruno and what do you know? It took me to Haruno. I find the mask. It is one big mask. Unfortunately it is in the parking lot of the library, which ain't exactly scenic. So I take my pics and decide I feel good enough to still try and find the temple. I drive up the Haruno highway until I come to the first numbered highway (389) and take that. My map only has a few highways marked on it, so I'm not sure this is the right one. This is a wild ride. It's a one lane, winding highway through the most gorgeous scenery I have seen in Japan. It goes up along a river and there are beautiful views everywhere. Rocky shoals, waterfalls, steep mountains, giant boulders and the occasional tiny little cute town. I pull off at one of these tiny cute towns to take a picture and notice it has a signpost pointing in all four directions. Luckily the temple I am looking for has one of the only kanji I know - yama, which means mountain. I verify it on the map. Yep, the place I want is still another 18 kilometers away. And as I can only drive about 20 kilometers per hour on this road I know I have another hour to go. I forge on. The scenery only gets better. In the whole hour on this road I only pass 5 other cars. As I get close to the temple the road gets much steeper. And I keep going up and up and up. When I had the temple in sight I actually whooped out loud. I parked and looked around the temple. It was a nice temple, but nothing extraordinary. There are other sights to see in the vicinity, but it's time to get back home. I was sure that 389 would take me to 152 and that would be the fastest way home. Along the side of the road were antelope crossing signs, tanuki crossing signs and monkey crossing signs. And I did see a monkey scurring up the mountain at one point. And a snake that I tried very hard to avoid, not sure though. I get out on 152 and realize that I had turned around about 10 kilometers short of the turnoff, but that it probably wouldn't have done me any good to have driven this far, cuz I don't think I would have had any clue that this was the right road anyway. So I drive home. I left at 10 in the morning and returned at 5 in the afternoon. I'm estimating I spent 6 hours driving in search of the temple I only spent 15 minutes at. Oh, I don't regret it, but it's kind of funny. But by the time I got home I had one massive headache. Killer headache. And a sore throat. So I popped one of every pill in the house and took a nap. Hope that gets rid of my explorer's headache.


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