Book Review : The Folded Earth

Desperate to leave a private tragedy behind, Maya abandons herself to the rhythms of the little village, where people coexist peacefully with nature. But all is not as it seems, and she soon learns that no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world. When power-hungry politicians threaten her beloved mountain community, Maya finds herself caught between the life she left behind and the new home she is determined to protect.

By Anuradha Roy.

It’s one of those books that gives you a calm , serene feeling while you are reading.

Unfortunately though, I can get a connection with the main character Maya. I’m not sure if she is a strong woman or not.  She did defy her father when she decided to marry a foreigner and not somebody from her own caste, but after Micheal (her husband) died, she seems to have lost her zest for life.

On the other hand, I enjoy reading Charu’s adventure. For me, I think she is the best character in the book. She is feisty and full of life. She fights for what she wants when she wants and do not do the things that she finds useless.

It took me a little while to finish reading this book though. Every time there is a description about the mountain, I would have this feeling of going for a climb again or just be outdoor and enjoy instead of being coped up inside the house with the book.

I give it about 2.5 rating out of 5.

Hiking to Wazuka (和束)

Ever since one of T’s student told us about Waduka(pronounced as Wazuka 和束) , we have been trying to visit the place but kept putting it off . So when Mr. R organized another hike going to Waduka, I know this is a chance I could not missed. It was unfortunate that T was not able to join because of work, I’m sure he would have love the place but hopefully we can go visit there again this coming autumn (fingers crossed :D).

Based on the last hike with Mr. R, I know this was not going to be your normal hike with normal trail so I almost canceled when the back of my right knee kept on giving me pain. Fortunately, massaging it every night a week before the hike abated the pain a little. Now I’m just hoping that it will hold up till the end of the hike and not cause anybody trouble.

It was a very humid day with an impending rain, a nice for a hike right?

S, P and I arrived on the same train in 上狛(Kami-Koma) Station around 9:30 and I was already sweating profusely and was already feeling really tired.
We started our hike and a few minutes later, we entered this beautiful bamboo trail.
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Unfortunately, bugs were following us, buzzing in my ear. I was just happy we did not met any hornets.

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There were some areas that I find really challenging and the three of them were just walking through it like nothing. Darn so jealous. I was already using both hands , fortunately Mr. R was there to give a helping hand after I shouted for Help :D. Yes I’m not shy in that area ;)

Anyways, after we passed that area it was all good. It was still drizzling so at least it was a bit refreshing and the forest smelled so fresh and looks greener. No more bugs buzzing around too.

After we came down on one of the steeper area with stairs, I felt my knee wobbling and shaking. S was also feeling suddenly tired, I guess the heat was making us very tired. After discussing our options with the boys, S and I decided to keep on going. Although instead of using the mountain trail, we decided to take the road to the top instead, it was not as interesting as the mountain trail but it gave S and I to recuperate a little bit.

We got to the top and this is our view:

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It was very beautiful.

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We had a long break here, while having our lunch and by the time we finished S and I were all set to take on the next challenge.

And after an hour or so later…

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We arrived to the tea planet :).

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A few more minutes of walking we found some these statues :

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There were several of them with different hand poses , I guess these are used for pilgrimage or something.

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And more tea farms in Waduka.

From Wiki:

Wazuka (和束町 Wazuka-chō?) is a town located in Sōraku District, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

As of 2008, the town has an estimated population of 5,011. The total area is 64.87 km².

Wazuka is mostly a farming town and prides itself in its top quality green tea actually said by many connoisseurs of tea to be no. 1 in all of Japan[citation needed]. Wazuka is home to roughly 300 tea growing families. The area was selected in the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333) for tea production and has enjoyed an 800-year history as one of the main production areas of Ujicha. Today, while Ujicha comprises only 3% of the tea produced in Japan, it enjoys royal status as one of the most highly prized and respected teas in the country.[1] Also a considerable crop of rice is produced among other agricultural products.

Wazuka’s band of top tea farmers known as the Yukichaken and the local community are in cooperation with NICE one of the major volunteer program companies and hold together the biggest annual work camp at the end of August lasting 2 weeks. The program is open to about 12 foreigners per year and an equal number of Japanese work campers.

If you are visiting Kyoto, I highly recommend visiting or taking a tour in one of tea farms here and try the local tea. It’s absolutely fantastic.

This coming November 1-2, 2014, there is a Chagenkyo (Tea) Matsuri. Hopefully I can go there again.

The hike was amazing and the destination was definitely worth it.

Egg Benedict in Osaka

My first egg benedict was in California. When the plate arrived it was huge, there was no way I could finish it on my own.  I do not like to waste any food and since everybody (almost) ordered the same thing, I am left to fend for my self  :p. I think I finish 1 and 1/2 of the serving and was full all day long.

When somebody posted a link to Cafeteria Sonrisa , in FB’s page “The Best in Osaka” about egg benedict, I got curious.

Caferia Sonrisa

Together with Miss Y, I tried their Salmon and Avocado Egg Benedict and I really like it.

Egg Benedict

Don’t you think it looks good ? :)
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Together with some really cold (non-alcoholic) Mojito.

So if you are missing Egg Benedict, head out to Cafeteria Sonrisa.

Hiking to Somewhere : The Continuation

The Saga continues … ( sounds dramatic eh :) )

Anyways, after we left Iwafune Jinja , we noticed that we are no longer within Osaka Prefecture but within Nara Prefecture, specifically Ikoma City.
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Here is the proof. The sign says it all.

Since this is the first time I joined a hike organized by Mr. R, I was surprised that when we slowly enter into the mountain there were no visible trail. It feels like we are entering into this jungle where you can barely see where you are walking. It was either we turn back or we can trust Mr. R to lead us, but nobody complained and I think we are all excited.

As we were walking we noticed this little ponds and it looks so freshly green :).
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I got captivated by one these ponds that I was not looking in front of me and had a big bump on a piece of fallen tree blocking the way. Thankfully my head is thick enough, no damage felt so far (as of this writing).

We got to a higher ground and saw this
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Everybody was blocking my view :p

After a few hours of walking, we finally reach Kurondo Pond

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It looks really green and peaceful.

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A warning for people like me :D

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Enjoying a moment of peace away from the lady folk ? ;p

We took a long relaxing break here.

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These two decided to check out the mini boats.

Some of us were a bit tired already so we decided to call it a day and head home.

But not before we pass this interesting waterfall.

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Noticed that little Buddha statue on the side. We had a theory that this might be one of the meditation spots for monks.

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If you can read it, it’s a description and name of the mini-waterfalls.

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Say hi to this awesome hikers :D

It was definitely a lovely day with equally amazing group. A great hike , another great adventure for me :)

Apologies for the Hiatus

Again.

Work, book and my-so-called life has been very busy lately which is good.

Unfortunately, I find myself unable to concentrate on my blog. 

When everything is calm and settled again, I will be back.

Until then, stay happy and healthy everyone.

 

The Rock Ship Shrine?

This was one the amazing finds during my hike yesterday, which will be in another post.

Iwafune Jinja (磐船神社) is located in Katano City, Osaka Prefecture just bordering Osaka and Nara.

Why Rock Ship? The Kanji Iwa(磐) means rock or a big boulder of rock and Fune(船) means ship or boat thus the title.  The idea came when RT, our guide yesterday, explained to me that it was believed that these big boulder of rocks where the ship in which the gods used to get to earth.

A little google and I found the official homepage for this place. [Japanese][English]

The Japanese site contains a more details description, unfortunately it’s going to take me a few days to do a translation of it. The English site contains some basic information which will give you some idea how old this place is.
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The name at the gate of the Shrine

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The front shine. Notice the Big boulder of rock in the back of it? It is believed that the god(神) lives in this rock,

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Fudoh-Mouoh, considered to be one of the divine beings in Buddhism and this image was carved in the stone in Dec 1545, more than 400 years of history.

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Can you see the frog on top of the Rock? It’s supposed to be a holy creature, a guardian perhaps?

The Shrine is small but full of history. We were planning to go done and explore underneath the boulders but unfortunately it has been raining these past days and the rocks are slippery so for safety reason, they have closed it. So now I have another reason to go back there soon.

Going into the shrine is free but if you plan to go down under the rocks, you need to pay a small fee.

How to get there by Train:

By Keihan Train: Take the Keihan Train to Kisaichi Station(私市) , and get on the Keihan Bus and get off at Iwafune Jinja Mae. This bus only operates on the weekends(Sat and Sun) only.

By Kintetsu Line: Get off at Ikoma Station and Take the bus bound for Kitadahara(北田原) and get off at the last stop from there it’s about 10 minutes walk to the shrine.

If you are going by Car you can take a look at this map.

Book : The Waiting Years

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I accidentally found this book in the local library and got very curious with it. Here is a summary.

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo’s real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another … and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son…. And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.

This book was brilliantly written by Fumiko Enchi and won one of the highest literary honor in Japan.

It was amazing how patient Tomo with all her husbands cheating with other women and how far she would go to protect her family’s honor.

At first it irked me to read about it and almost put the book down but fortunately I did not and was amazed about the relationship of each woman and how they rely on each other strengths. The art of “Gaman” or patience is definitely well defined in this book.

As I finished reading this book, it gave me a new perspective about relationship and of preserving it not just for myself but for the people that is affected with it.

A book of the past but definitely a great lesson for the future.

Strolling around Yamadaike Park

I saw an advertisement for a great spot to view some Plum Blossoms, and this park was one of them. Unfortunately, the weekend that I was planning to visit the park it snowed and rain, not a very motivating weather to take a nice stroll around the park.

On a nice Sunday afternoon in May, I convinced T to join for a walk along this beautiful park.

Ike(池) mean pond and right in the center of the park is a big pond.

In Hirakata City, Japan

In Hirakata City, Japan

When we got there, the irises where just starting to bloom and this little guy here is enjoying some of nature’s bounty.

In Hirakata City, Japan

Lots of trees where you can place a mat and just enjoy the weather, the view and the company of family and friends.

In Hirakata City, JapanA big wide open space for kids and adults to play around.

This is the top view of park.

How to get to the park :

By Keihan Line ( Hirakata Station) or JR Gakkentoshi Line ( Nagao Station)  then take the Keihan Bus to Deyashiki(出屋敷)

or

By JR Gakkentoshi Line and get off at Fujisaka Station and walk about 10 minutes toward Northwestern side.

In Hirakata City, Japan

A plate of happiness at Uomo

We accidentally found Uomo since the cheap izakaya we were supposed to go is close on Sundays.

 

A plate of Happiness @ Uomo Osaka

Unfortunately, it’ not a no-smoking restaurant but there were less customers when we got there, so lesser smoke. Food was great and affordable. Service was good too.

It’s located in B1 of the Osaka Mae Dai-3 Building.