Saturday, August 1, 2015

Japan Day 8: Kurama Moutain Hike

The mascot of Kurama. Looks a little phallic . . . which wouldn't surprise me.
 For part of our trip, John wanted to make sure we got out of the widely known touristy areas and into somewhere more remote. He chose a the mountain town of Kurama which is known for its cedar forests and natural hot springs. There's a single main road in Kurama that you take to get to the ryokan (traditional Japanese style inn). We got off a stop too early and had to truck up to the inn with all our luggage. I felt like I was going to die!

John the mule again as we left the Westin Miyako for Kurama.
After dropping off all of our bags we got lunch at a small restaurant back down the hill. We took the shuttle down this time! I ordered oyakodon and John got cold soba noodles. He was unsure how to eat them so he watched a Japanese man eat his first and then proceeded with confidence. We learned you're supposed to dip the noodles in the cold broth and then slurp them up. I mentioned this to my parents when we got home and they both nodded their heads knowingly. How come this knowledge was never passed on to me?

I found that the Japanese version of scrambled eggs are a lot runnier than the American style

Right outside the restaurant was the entrance to a hike up Kurama Mountain. My heel on my right foot had been killing me from walking around Arashiyama the day before, but John suggested we take a look at a few of the shrines and that there was no pressure to do the whole hike. I can't really say no to a challenge so we ended up hiking up the whole way even though I thought I wasn't going to make it. I did use a granny walking stick to assist my weary bones, but then all the grannies started passing us and I started wondering if I should ditch the stick. The hike was lovely and I was very glad we finish it. There were lots of shrines and other sacred structures on the way up and it was green and smelled amazing. Apparently there's a trolley car that runs up the side of the mountain that you can take if you're not feeling up to the thousands of stairs, but it was out of order for the year.

I liked the dragon head of this water pavilion.

Huge majestic cedars.

Taking one of many breaks with my granny stick.

Stairs and more stairs 

This shrine was very peaceful. You could hear birds, the wind moving through the trees, the gong softly ringing, and chants from the priests.
Victorious at the top of the mountain.

I thought this was a good place to practice some fake samurai sword fighting moves. Hopefully I didn't desecrate the sacred area. I also started talking loudly about this English speaking, half Japanese kid that reminded me of my nephew, Thaddeus. I think heard he me and got weirded out and left.

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