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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Search of Kouyou

Kouyou is the word for the leaves that have turned color in the fall. And the Japanese love to view the Kouyou. I had visited Myojin gorge earlier this year and had thought it might be great to go again now that the leaves have started turning. But the weather forecast wasn't good for Sunday, and worse for Monday. So I gave up on the idea. But when I woke up Sunday and the sky was gorgeous, I decided to chance it and go drive the gorge. I took every map in the apartment but the right one, of course. But my memory served me very well. I drove slowly and meandered through the very quiet valley. I stopped and took pics whenever the mood and oportunity struck. I ate my lunch sitting at a roadside stop and watched the river go by. I got to the end of the valley around noon. That left me alot of time. So I decided to check out the nearby nature reserve, even though the clouds had moved in. I first stopped at the wildlife museum, but the door wouldn't open, even though the lights were on and cars outside. There were very small signs on the door. Maybe they said they were closed for lunch. They may have even said "pull hard", but I didn't think of that until later. I continued through the reserve until I came across a sign said something to the extent of "30 Mushrooms that way". Okay, it didn't say mushrooms. Mark thinks the kanji for minutes looks like a mushroom. So something was 30 minutes up this trail. Like a real hiking trail. So I took it. Boy was it steep. I was taking one of my many breathers when an old dog came into view barking at me. Shortly two older folks came into view. They looked worried that I might be afraid of the dog, so I yelled "daijobu" to them reassuringly and started cooing to the dog. When the dog got closer he started wagging his tail and making friends. The couple asked me if I was alone. I get that alot. Yes I said. We chatted a little and they let me know that the trail got very steep up ahead and insisted I take one of the walking sticks they had picked up along the way. I accepted gratefully and went on my way. And they were right. It was very steep, and the stick came in handy. I never thought I would reach....what was I trying to reach? I eventually reached the highest peak around, and there was a branch bench. I sat and caught my breath. Then I headed down. It was much easier, if more treacherous going down. I dropped the walking stick with the others at the head of the trail and got into my nice warm car. I followed the road and came across other hiking trails, even more nicely marked than the first. And I continued to meander and look at the scenery, while trying to avoid all the fallen rocks in the road. Most were the size of a softball or smaller, but there were a few the size of a good footstool. Eventually I came to the highway to take me home. I left at 9 in the morn, and didn't return home until 5. Quite the day for someone who hadn't expected to do anything more strenuous than do the dishes.

Check out more pics at flickr


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pictures are very good and your day trip sounds really nice. Mum

At 12:28 AM, Blogger Life Out East said...

Just discovered your blog. Great pics. Rural Japan looks great. I'm living in Thailand at the moment (I'm a Brit) and really getting sick of heat, mozzies and sweat. A leaf turning colour and some nice countryside would be welcome indeed.
I've been a fan of things Japanese for many years and hoping to make my first trip their next year.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger cat-chan the karaoke princess said...

Hello Natalie,

I came across your blog when I was doing a google search on kouyou. Fantastic pictures!! Unfortunately, I'm not in Japan right now. :( But my boyfriend is, and I'm looking for some nice places for him to take pictures of the red leaves. :)


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