Happy New year!
Hope you all had great New Year days. In Japan, the period of the first three days of January is called “San ga nichi”, happy holidays. Most of stores used to take three days off 30 years ago, but nowadays many of them are open and many customers go for shopping. I miss those days.
On the 1st Jan., we went up to “Minegoshi Pass”, one of the highest passes in Gokanosho, to admire the first sunrise of the year which is considered very happy. We enjoyed making rice cakes in a traditional way (totally hand made!), hanging out with a bunch of neighbours and relatives under the lighting devices that we brought up until the sun shows up.
Finally, the first sun rises up. We make a wish towards the sun in Shinto way (it doesn’t matter if you are not a Shinto believer.), hoping for the better days through the year. We say “The whole year’s plans are (to be) made on New Year’s Day / New Year’s Day is the key to the whole year” in Japan.
Mid October should be the best Autumn colour season up in the mountains, but we apparently have a late Autumn this year because of the summer heat. On 23rd Oct, we enjoyed a beautiful trek to Mt Shiratori where one of the “Heike” clan was thought to have settled down in around the beginning of 13th century after they were defeated by their rival Samurai clan “Genji”. It takes around 30 minutes to get to the trail head from Momigi by car and the trek is an easy and comfortable walking on the mountain ridge. Unfortunately it was a rainy day though, the trek offered us some beautiful leaves in the fog. Our goal was “Miike” and “Byoubu Iwa”, very sacred place for the locals and even trekkers. On a sunny day, this trek offers some beautiful landscape and flowers, you should try this some day with me.
Went off to a trek to the highest mountain of Gokanosho, Kunimi-dake (1,739m) on 15th Oct. Leaves hasn’t changed the colour yet perhaps because of the heat of summer. Seems we will have a late Autumn this year.
In the middle of May, it’s PEONY season!
We have beautiful peony flowers in a wide range of a hill with limestone, somewhere in Mt Shiratori. The trek is not hard, one hour and a half walk on a mountain ridge will take you to this beautiful spot. But as it’s located in a hidden place, so highly recommended to hire a guide.
I’ve got to visit here again this week!
I was invited by Mt Shiratori after some snowfalls in Gokanosho. And enjoyed the atmosphere on the trail, taking photos of beautiful frosticles of branches and ice. I could have stayed here all day long, I had to head back to Yamame-so to get back the car which Mr Kuroki, the owner of Yamame-so, kindly lent me.
And I also found skiers there as the photos, it’s just unbelievable! They brought “short skis” up there to enjoy a road ski and mountain ski according to what they say.
In the evening, I visited Sakura-so on the way back home from Kumamoto city and saw the skiers again. One of them, who is a guide, was kind enough to lend me a pair of “short skis” and offered me to practise until he comes back to Gokanosho again next month. Yeah, I can’t wait the next snowfall!