Clouds

Summer 2014 : To Matsumoto We go !!!

It was Miss I who actually gave us the idea to visit Matsumoto as she had live there for several years. Since Y and I did not really have a definite plan for the summer , why not right ? 😀

So after our lunch at Nagoya Station, we boarded the train bound for Natsukagawa and from there change to another train for Matsumoto. It was about 3 hours train ride all the way to our final destination.

We both wanted to read and relax in the train but I think the excitement of seeing a new place is getting me all hyped, I can’t concentrate on reading. So taking pictures instead.

Untitled
A town we passed.

Untitled
Nakatsugawa Station. Took a short stroll outside to find some manhole 🙂

Untitled
Mountain and rice field.

Untitled
More mountains.

By late afternoon, we finally arrived in Matsumoto City. First thing first, we need to find our guesthouse, find an onsen and food. In that particular order.

Untitled
Naruto characters ?

Untitled
We are in Matsumoto !!

After we got settled in the guesthouse, we were able to borrow bicycle and it’s onsen time. Base on the guesthouse staff recommendation, we went to Menoyu(目之湯) in Asama Onsen. It was very hot and humid during our stroll in Nagoya, that the thought of soaking our very tired body is amazing. The temperature has cooled down significantly in Matsumoto and we had the rotenburo all to ourselves.

Untitled
Menoyu

After onsen, now its time to feed our tummy. Of course, when you are in Matsumoto, you have to try Soba or buckwheat noodles. The owner of the onsen, a nice old man, pointed us to a nearby place which is also a favorite among the locals there.

It was a soba feast. A few minutes later Y and I finished all our food.

Untitled
Soba Tempura.


Soba ( I forgot the name )

Untitled
The Soba Place.

Onsen, Dinner and adventure. It was a great day indeed. When we finally made back to to our guesthouse, both of us are ready for bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out and the next thing I know , the sun was shining. A new day has started and of course a new adventure. 🙂

Categories: Clouds, Landscape, Life In Japan, Trains, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.
Untitled

Unfortunately, bugs were following us, buzzing in my ear. I was just happy we did not met any hornets.

Untitled

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:

Untitled

It was very beautiful.

Untitled

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…

Untitled

We arrived to the tea planet :).

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.

Categories: Clouds, Landscape, Life In Japan, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Mt. Tomi(鳥見山) to Lake Murou(室生湖)

Long time no hear/read. Been busy with my so called Life 🙂

Anyways, I join this hike on my last day of Golden Week Vacation here in Osaka. A lot of first and I saw another side of Nara that I really like. A bit far from where I am currently located but definitely worth the trip.

Our group met in Hasedara Station, which is about 1.5 hours train ride for me.

Sign post for Hasedera in Nara
The tall stone saying Hasedera Temple , just outside Hasedera Station.

I have never heard of Hasedera Temple before so I was really happy to find this place.
The group arrived on time and so our hike began. We are supposed to follow one of the Tokai Nature Trail in Nara Prefecture.

We had a short stop at the Yoki Tenma Jinja, since our organizer have this fascination with it.

Untitled
A small shrine near stairs with small cute foxes(Inari) inside.


Let’s start the walk up to the Shrine.

Untitled
The moss covered stairs going up. On our way up, we met some university students busily sketching the scenery. I envy them since I can’t draw a thing.


The Cow. If you ever been to Tenmangu Shrine, you will notice that there is always a Cow sculpture/statue inside which is a familiar god in Tenmangu Shrines.

After our short visit, we proceed with our hike. There was not much around Hasedera Station but as we were approaching the main Temple, there peony beautiful blooming at the side of the street, vendors giving us free taste of their products. I have never heard of Hasedera so I have never visited this place. A few weeks after this hike, I was reading the book called “The Pillow Book” that I realized the historical importance of this place. Of course entering the Temple is not free and unfortunately, we still have a long way to go so I will have to go back there soon.

Untitled
The Front Gate of Hasedera.

After we left Hasedera, we were following the highway and a few minutes later we found our marker.
Untitled
Our next stop is Hase Dam.

Untitled
Front View of Hase Dam.

As we were heading back to the main road. We noticed this very interesting sign.
Untitled
Looks like Guns are not allowed.

Untitled
It was beautiful. The peacefulness of it all.

Untitled
View from the top of the Dam.

Untitled
Forward march. Yup we are crossing this bridge.

More walking along the highway and we found another marker leading to the mountains.

Untitled
Watch out for your head.

It was a steep climb and we are supposed to find Takatsuka Castle on top but unfortunately this is what was left of the castle.
Untitled
Suffice it to say, we did not get to see a castle or any of its ruins.

We also found some interesting plants along the way.
Untitled
The red mushroom. Any idea the name of this mushroom?


It looks like a pitcher plant.

Untitled
Wee!! another sign that we are almost to the top of the mountain.

We took a short, 1 hour break , for lunch and chatted a good while. Then we checked out the view. It was amazing.


I’m not sure if this is Nara Prefecture or Mie Prefecture already. But it looks really nice.


A Panoramic Shot.

The Azaleas were also blooming so it was really beautiful up there.

Untitled
I like this shot of the Photographer seriously taking some pictures surrounded by this beautiful foliage.


And another one.

Untitled
A close up with the Azaleas.

A few minutes walk we found another place where we can see more of the view.
Untitled


one more 🙂


And one more.

We wanted to stay there and just enjoy the view, but we still have a very long way to go till we reach our final destination.

We found several interesting areas including this very small waterfall.


Rice fields that looks like a small version of the Banaue Rice Terraces

Untitled


It looks like that the farmers just started planting rice in this area.


Farmers busy planting. I hope you have a great harvest soon.

Untitled
I love this view.

Our next goal was to look for the Grave site of Yamabe Akihito a poet during Nara Period and a few hours later we found it.

Untitled
The lone grave of Yamabe Akahito(山辺赤人)

Our next goal was to reach Murou Dam which according to the map was not that far, but next marker we found said that Lake Murou is 8KM away and the Dam is still a few km away from that.

We thought that there was a mistake with the marker but we thought wrong.

When we got out of the mountain and was going to the lake it was already after 4pm, the sun was already starting to set.

Untitled
Part of the Lake closer to the highway. We are just entering the Lake.


It was really beautiful.


So peaceful.


Akahito’s Bridge.

We decided to check gps how far is the Dam, and it looks like it was still a good 5-6 KM away and unfortunately nobody was carrying flashlight or what not. All of us still have classes and work to do the next day. So we all decided to take the shortest route to the next station following the side of the Lake.

We found some wild deer which scampered away as soon as they caught our smell. All we could see where the white spots near the butt :).

It was a nice walk beside the lake, dirt road, smell of summer breeze , earth and forest all together. When we finally got out and back to the main road , this is what greeted us.

Untitled

We still have a 2 Km to walk till we get to the train station but we got there safely and catch our train. We were all tired, but I was very satisfied to join see this amazing places.

till the next adventure:)

Categories: Clouds, Flora, Landscape, Life In Japan, Structures, Temples, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Touring Yashima(屋島)

Yashima is part of Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture Japan. One of its main attraction is the Yashima-ji located at a lava plateau northeast of Takamatsu.

Late last year (2013), T and I join a tour, a Fugu tour actually, and one the places they took us was on this plateau to get a really good view of Takamatsu.

Let the tour begin.

Yashima
Welcome to Yashima.

Yashima
Watching the people as they enter the gate.

Yashima
Beautiful stone carving.

Yashima
A view from a far.

Yashima
A raccoon? a male one if you noticed 🙂 , guarding the torii.

Yashima
The female one.

Yashima
The Main Hall of the Thousand Handed Kannon.

We walked all the way to the end of the plateau and this is what we saw.

Yashima

and another
Yashima

There were several Sakura trees there, so it would be really pretty this coming spring.
Yashima
One of the cherry blossoms.

Going up to the plateau is not free though. The charge is per vehicle so you can packed everyone in vehicle and go 🙂

One of the thing that our guide pointed out was this very old cherry blossom tree.
Yashima
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the description beside it so my memory is a bit vague. If I am not mistaken, I think this tree is more or less 600 years old and was planted by a noble person who visited this place a long long time ago.

I am not sure if they are open in the evening but it would be really pretty to see night view of city of Takamatsu.

So if you ever get to Takamastu City, try to check out this part.

Hope you enjoy the tour. 😉

Categories: Buildings, Clouds, Landscape, Life In Japan, Structures, Temples, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Castle in the Sky

No, I am not talking about the ghibli movie but of the ruins of Takeda Castle.

The Takeda Castle constructed on the mountain is one of one hundred famous castles in Japan. Its base was constructed in the 15th century and the scale is 400m from north to south and 100m from east to west. Even now it has a grand and dignified appearance and a magnificent view.

The weather forecast for the whole week was from Sunny to Cloudy then unfortunately rain. I was hoping for a cloudy weather so that we can see the fog covering the castle giving it’s name “Castle in the Sky” , unfortunately weather was not very accommodating to us.

Six brave individuals(including me) joined me as we walked in the rain, sleet and very cold weather all the way up to the ruins.

The trail featured in Heart Of Japan  was closed, so we have to use the bus/car road all the way up. Some of us were not wearing hiking boots and not hiking experts so it was the safest way to go up.

Untitled

It was still an amazing view on the top. It was only drizzling so we still got a decent view. Unfortunately our plan to have a small picnic for lunch was not possible at all since there were no chair and the ground was wet and cold.

Ruins of Takeda CastleThe original plan was to wait for the sunset but we were all wet and very cold so we went down after exploring the areas that was open to the public. Some of the areas were closed since it was slippery and no railing to hold on to.

Beside the weather factor, I still had so much fun and of course the company that I was with was one of the main reason. Cold and wet we were still goofing around, stopped at a nearby parking lot , shared our food and warm drinks before we head back to Osaka.

Trains coming and going to Takeda are not very often so make sure you make it to your connection or you will have to wait an hour or two for the next train.

Access: JR Takeda Station

Information: Just beside the station, there is a small tourist information center and the lady in there is very kind and helpful. You can also get some map and hiking information from them.

Entrance: 300 yen from early Spring to Late Autumn. It was free when we got there. Just inquire in the tourist information center if they are charging on the day you will go.

More picture are uploaded on the flickr album : Exploring Takeda Castle Ruins

Categories: Clouds, Landscape, Life In Japan, Structures, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: