Thursday, 30 December 2010

I climbed a mountain!

Well, first because we only had about an hour and a half of daylight left, I took a rope way up a mountain then hiked down (and barely made it before dark...).  Then the next morning I climbed up the mountain, then back down.  There are three main paths up Miyajima, and I climbed on all of them, and ne'er a monkey to be seen. :(  At the top of the rope way there were free lockers to put your bags and signs everywhere warning about the monkeys, but on day one it was rainy and cold, and on day two.. well, I guess they just don't like coming out during the winter.  I don't blame them, but I'm pretty bummed I couldn't see at least one.  Had binoculars this time too, but no luck.  I think they hate me.  Third time's the charm?

Anyway, here are some pictures!  Sorry, they're huge.  I took 194 after deleting some of the blurry ones or doubles. o.O  This camera is awesome.

 This is the atomic bomb dome, 原爆ドーム(genbaku dohmu).  I didn't stick around long, since we were on our way to the ferry to get to the island at the time and I was far more interested in seeing the monkeys, but it looks like it was a municipal building or something.  It's part of the Peace Park.  It was interesting to see how the city dealt with the bombing.  If you're confused, Miyajima is just off the coast from the main island of Japan at Hiroshima.  The first ferry we took, we got about a half hour in (as I sank further and further flat against the table) before the captain finally decided continuing out into the bay (we just barely made it off the river) was too dangerous.  The river was all white-caps, and the waves as we neared the bay had to have been at least five feet.  The bottom of the ferry was flat, and the nose was definitely not shaped to cut through waves.  That was disconcerting.  I'm glad we turned around, even though we lost well over two hours because of it.

 We finally got to 宮島口 (Miyajima guchi) where the JR ferry set off.  It's only about five minutes from the JR port to the island, but it took a long time to get to the station on the train.  The water was still really rough, but it was one of those ferries that transports cars so we didn't even feel it on the top.  This picture was while we were in line.  Right before I snapped this it was really bright, but it had faded by the time the guy in front of my would let me move the foot I needed to get the pillar out of the way of my camera.
 厳島神社の大鳥居 - This is the front of Ituskushima shrine.  The gate is held into the water by its own weight rather than set into the sand.  It's huge!  This is just after high tide.
 Deer.  They were everywhere.  They fear nothing, cars, people, squealing children.  They're sacred though.  Actually the whole island is, but deer are considered sacred in Japan.  It's the same in Nara, though there were more deer on Miyajima than I saw in Nara.  Apparently there are usually way more in Nara, and they're bullies, but I think animals in Japan just hate me and want to prove all of the tourist information wrong.  Anyway, they cut off the antlers on the male deer in both places so dumb tourists don't get gored when they try to pet them.
 I just liked this bridge.  This was on the way up to the rope way.  We went up to the peak, checked out the eternal fire temple on the peak next to it, then after a caution from one of the workers letting us know we had forty minutes of daylight left we booked it down the nearest trail.  It was all stairs, and very uneven stairs.  My knees stopped hurting today a little, but yeah, that hurt.  Beautiful though.
 Lindsey liked this tree.  Apparently it was huggable, and I have nutty friends. :P
 Starfish!  This was at the JR ferry landing again the next morning.  We were originally planning on going to Kyoto yesterday, but as we were making our way up the mountain on Tuesday we decided that we wanted to spend more time on the island. I'm glad we decided that before realizing there were no monkeys at the peak, or I may have started crying.
 Two bucks attempting to fight... or their clipped antlers were itchy....
 Mommy and baby.
 The torii gate at low tide.  This was maybe thirty minutes after the low tide mark.  There have been a ton of landslides on that island, which makes me wonder if that's not why the change in tides are so dramatic here.  It also makes me wonder how tall the mountain was originally, however many thousands of years ago.  You can see so many places where it just fell away.  On the trail we came down yesterday it looked like part had just crumbled and tossed giant mansion-sized boulders down the side.
 Another up-close picture.  I'm glad I wore my boots.  I would have had cold, wet feet otherwise, cause I don't usually realize I'm walking through water until I'm not wearing boots and my feet get soaked...
 A view on the way up.
Tanuki (racoon-dog) paw print in the concrete
 She was cute.  This is on the way to Misen peak.  There's a really narrow stair between a bunch of boulders (in front of the pictures below) that you have to climb to get up there.  A couple of Japanese women went down before me, and the deer was on her way up, so I stopped at the top of the stairs to let her pass and said basically "After you," but it came out in Japanese.  The women in front of me looked rather startled and laughed and commented on my Japanese as they continued down.  It made me giggle.
Lindsey scared about four people coming off that staircase despite the fact that I was standing on a boulder aiming a camera at her.  It was entertaining.
So of course I had to crawl in too. XD
 A view from near the top.
 This is one of the males smart enough to avoid the tourist areas during antler chopping season.  A little later from the top of the look-out, Lindsey and I watched a group walk up, two Americans and two Japanese guys.  The mis-communication between them was funny enough, but then one of the Japanese guys was dumb and tried to pet this guy.  Of course he lowered his head and got ready to charge, and one of the Americans made the comment "He's gonna get gored."  Lindsey and I burst out laughing, which seemed to stop the Japanese guy from trying to pet him (idiot..), so I guess that worked out.  We then had to look up how to say "to gore" in Japanese because it seemed like a useful word to know... it was a rather anticlimactic answer. 空く or 空き通す "to open."  Japanese has some really fun words and some really boring ones... I call this one boring.
One of the shrines on the path.  One of the deer found my camera lens cover interesting around here and looked like she wanted to eat it for a minute.
 Getting down to the bottom was so painful.  Had it not been for the stairs it probably would have taken longer, but both of us were in so much pain from our knees.  I ended up finding paths through the woods near the trail to avoid the stairs as much as I could.  On the other paths it would have been impossible.  They were paved with stones fairly solid the whole way, and to the sides there were quite often really deep gouges in the mountain side from a landslide in 平成17 which is.... 2005?  I think... I'm bad at converting that.  This year is 平成22, and I went to school in Osaka in 18, so I'm pretty sure that equals 2005.  Anyway, the landslide took out large chunks of the other two paths.  It looked like there had been a few because of the different construction methods we could see on different parts.  The trail we took down was built in 昭和4 or 6... I forgot already... I was born in 昭和60 or 61, so that would put it sometime in the 20s or early 30s.  There was another huge landslide in 1945 (if I remember the date correctly) that dumped 20,000 cubic meters of earth on the area in this picture, Itsukushima shrine.  There were dams holding back the mountain all the way up both of those trails.  Interestingly enough, the top ones were completely filled.  Typhoons and earthquakes must just rip that mountain apart.  Anyway, the trail down that we took looked like it had been damaged more by a rock fall, or maybe they built it around the rock fall... or maybe there were multiples.  There were some huge boulders, and some with trees growing through them or between them, but the parts of the path that were there were all one construction.  It made me want to study geology so I could figure out what was going on with all of that.
Leaving the island at sunset.  It was beautiful.  It really reminded me that it's Japanese cities that I hate, not Japan itself.  The people in the cities (which cover most of the islands) are obnoxious, rude, and self-centered.  I imagine it's a symptom of over-crowding and being over-worked.  There's a lot about Japan though that is beautiful and fascinating.  Historic Kyoto, if you can ignore the people who generally have the above qualities, is amazing.  Nara is huge.  Kawagoe is fascinating.  Miyajima.. I could spend a week on that island and be perfectly content.  It was nice to get away.  I couldn't breathe in the city (used my rescue inhaler just about once an hour...), and coming back to Tokyo was a rude awakening (and I can't even get a hold of my landlord to yell at them, again >_<), but I had a really nice two days.  I really want to print out the pictures I've taken on the trips I've been on here and make some albums.  I have a ton of pictures, but they're all the good points about the last three years that I want to remember.

Lindsey's coming back to Tokyo tonight, and tomorrow we're meeting Jen in Shibuya to spend New Year's Eve out on the town.  It was a blast last year, and I'm sure it will be again this year.  Next week is Disney and a Dir en Grey concert, hopefully some sit-and-do-nothing time in between, then Lindsey has to go back to Canada and I have to go back to my evil job.  I'm turning in my resignation right away though, then I'll figure out when I'm leaving and start packing.  I have a class starting on the 10th that I'm excited about, and one of my applications for the Sleeping Bear Dunes passed part one of the review... so YAY!!!!  Prayers wanted for that!! I really want that job.  It's just for four months, but I'm really praying that I get that job.  Something will work out for the fall, I really want to spend the summer working outside away from cities.

I was planning on doing some writing today, but I'm thinking the time would be better spent cleaning.  This place is cramped with two people in it, and the utter chaos created by the last four months of me attempting to hold on to a cliff-face by my fingernails is really not helping.  I'm glad I have my kitties though, even if they contribute a large portion of hair to the mess that is my apartment.  They're such good company.  I love coming home to them.

Oh!! That reminds me! Christmas pictures!

 Ophelia really likes toys she can chase.  If she catches a toy, she has no idea what to do with it.  Sometimes she'll toss it and chase it on her own... most of the time she looks up at me and meows at me or looks forlornly at the toy and pokes at it.  They both love this guy, and he's surprisingly sturdy!
 Soushi got a chicken with tail feathers filled with catnip.  He likes to kill things.  He thoroughly killed the chicken the minute I got it out of its package, but also surprisingly, no tail feathers have pulled out yet!  A couple days ago he got it stuck between the wall and my wardrobe and fell onto my computer trying to reach it from the top of the wardrobe, then looked ready to scale the curtains to reach it from the desk, which he knows he's not allowed to be on.  It was amusing, but further rationale for his nickname of Dr. Destructo.  He couldn't decide which toy he wanted to play with more after I got done tormenting him with the elf costume.
 Ophelia was the easiest to put this on.  She just stopped moving and looked disgruntled.
 Soushi, on the other hand, kept trying to run off or rub the ears off.  Haha, I'm a crazy cat lady, I know, but it was a very well spent $5, and they will suffer through wearing it every year because I think it's hilarious!

Ok, I'm really done with this post now.  Happy New Year everyone!!


Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading this post! I traveled to Miyajima about 25 years ago and thought it was incredibly beautiful. Your pictures really captured it. I'm embarrassed to tell you that I was one of those stupid tourists who tried to pet the deer. Fellow traveller, Mrs. VanCamp ( a vet) told me he wasn't trying to gore me... simply trying to rub his scent on me! Personally, I don't think he knew me long enough to want to do that! You've had some wonderful experiences. I envy you.

Caroline Cochran

shakespeare.gurl said...

I did pet one of the females, a little too close to her back end, I think, cause she scurried away behind a bush really fast. The males all looked really aggressive, even the ones sans antlers, so I gave them a lot of room. :D Lots of kids were crowding them though. I don't imagine they can do much harm with those stubs, though there were some with little tiny demon-horns popping out that might hurt.