Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mt Takao...

Biwataki Waterfall
If the first few weeks of living in a new country are supposed be dedicated to trying to find a place to live or just slowly adjusting to your new surrounding, I apparently missed the memo.  I've been here 11 days and I've already discovered the amazing trips the Navy base has to offer.  MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) organizes several trips a month to various locations around Japan and provides transportation which makes traveling fairly easy.
Mt Fuji in the distance
Yesterday, Amanda and I hiked Mt Takao which is located about an hour west of Tokyo in Hachioji City.  There were multiple trails to choose from which we took a densely wooded trail located along a stream with multiple waterfalls on the way up.  At one point we were actually hiking up through a waterfall.  Once we were at the summit, we had a spectacular view of Mt Fuji in the distance.  Looking out at it just made me even more excited and more determined to climb it come summer when the hiking trails are open!
Yakuo-in Temple
On the trip down the mountain, we chose a trail that passed numerous Japanese temples and shrines.  The most prominent of these structures was the Buddhist temple Yakuo-in, which was built back in the eighth century.  Other than small brochure we were given at the beginning of the trip we didn't learn anything in depth about the temples history because all the signs were written in Japanese.  Instead, we had to step back and observe the Japanese people and were able to appreciate the beauty of the ancient architecture.  There was a lot of prayer and spiritual rituals going on around the temples.  There was a spiritual cleansing bath that Amanda and I both washed our hands in.  I wasn't going to drink the water like everyone else was doing because that just seemed a little too weird for me.  Now, do I believe in any of these rituals, probably not, but I figured I might as well immerse myself in the culture as best I can while I'm here.  Even if I don't understand much of the history behind the Japanese temples, it was still pretty amazing to look at combined with nature.

Cleansing bath along the route

We picked a great time to visit Mt Takao.  The weather was perfect and the leaves had started to change into the beautiful autumn colors.  It really made me miss the Midwest and all the seasons it has to offer.  Apparently the rest of Japan also felt the same way, seeing how the mountain was extremely crowded.  I was very impressed to see all the older people and kids out hiking as well.
Although it was crowded, we were able to observe Japan's fashion sense a little more which is at both ends of the spectrum.  It was almost like some people were lost somewhere in the 80s with their bright neon colors and loud patterns.  It was actually somewhat amusing.  A lot of people also had on t-shirts with random English slogans written on them.  It made me wonder if they really know what the t-shirt says or they just wear it because they think it looks cool.  I guess that's just a result of all the American influence on the Japanese culture!

No comments:

Post a Comment