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2007年8月31日金曜日

To Nikko and beyond

Kawagoe

桂男
すまずなりけり
雨の月

Katsura-otoko
sumazu nari keri
ame no tsuki

The man in the moon
Has become homeless;
Rain clouded night

Matsuo Bashô (松尾芭蕉) ripped the first two lines from the Tale of Ise.
Sumazu is a kakekotoba meaning either homeless or unclear.

This blog page has been completely replaced by the photoblogs:

We've managed to pick up another free wireless internet connection, so here's another slide set of some of our pics of Kawagoe, Nikko and the road north to Aizuwakamatsu.

Nikko Rinoji Shrine

We set off from our little canal bridge in Kawagoe and drove into town to photograph the old merchant houses. The journey took all day winding through soulless small towns on the fringes of Tokyo valley. Finally we entered the gorge that leads up to Nikko and about mid afternoon we arrived at Nikko in the pouring rain. This misty atmosphere added a sense of mystery to the shrines of Nikko. These are the most beautifully ornate in all of Japan. They include a Buddhist temple Rinoji and the shrine to Tokugawa, the warlord who until the Meiji restoration conquered and unified Japan. This happened at considerable cost to his family as to preserve his strategic supremacy he found it expedient to have his wife and eldest son executed.

Having explored about half the shrines we set of up a winding hairpin road to lake Chuzenji-ko in pea soup fog exacerbated by us not realizing the air con was off and the windscreen was almost totally opaque, which made navigating the tunnels a nightmare.

Driving around the lake edge we found a secluded tree-covered entrance to a disused walking track and camped the night by the lake in the pouring rain. Next day we visited the Tokugawa shrine and after a cooked lunch in our camper - a Mitsubishi "Town Box" kei van spacious for two with only 4400 kms on the clock, we took off north again for Aizu Wakamatsu. This took a lot of navigating twisting in and out of side roads to avoid the very pricy toll road that led to a local spa. The road wound up a precipitous valley with small towns perched on the cliffs falling into the ravine on either side, punctuated by strings of hydro dams which left the green wilderness somewhat devastated in places.

Aizu-wakamatsu Castle

Finally, as we neared Aizu Wakamatsu there were richer valleys with rice fields and stylish traditional farm houses. In the evening we drove up to another lake and stayed the night in a side entrance to avoid the $50 NZ (Y4500) fees for a simple no frills camp site.

Today we went to the reconsructed castle and 17th century tea house and walked up the mountain where 20 young white tiger samurai bar one disemboweled themselves when they saw the rice fields burning below when the town backed the Tokugawas in the face of the successful Meiji restoration.

We're now off further north in the spirit of Bashō, who is famous for making the Haiku into a Satori, although rumours are rife that he was actually a Ninja agent of the government, reporting on any disaffection in the provinces. Anyway, his most famous work was "The Narrow Road to the Far North" an account of his travels through Tohoku in 1689.


Lake Inawashiro

It's very hard to understand the free wireless internet with unlimited bandwidth as a cell phone costs the earth even for a local call. Japanese cell phone coverage is incompatibile with all gsm frequencies, and our loaned Japanese prepay costs Y1000 for about 10 minutes with a 20 day time limit.

2 件のコメント:

Lauren さんのコメント...

Great! Give us a photo of the Tokugawa shrine! By the way don't you love those Lawson dairies with their bottled hot coffee in the pie heater on the counter and their takeaway onigiri? Lauren

Abigail Gonzalez さんのコメント...

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