It has been the wettest October in Yokohama since 2004 with a series of typhoons trundling by (394mm so far - footling British storms take note). Even when they don't really hit, the typhoons disturb the weather forecast, leading us to think that the typhoon forecast and weather forecast are not that well integrated. But the Japanese Met. Agency fixed it for everyone to enjoy the October public holiday that is specially set aside for exercise. A week in advance, the forecast was set fair, and so it proved to be! We headed for Yatsugatake.
Leaves were turning around 1500m.
Kita alps in the distance.
The plan had been for a quick up and down from the west, with an overnight on the top, but, for the first time ever when taking a trip to the mountains, we got on the wrong train, and so missed the bus. The plan was quickly changed to involve a longer walk from the south. This was the first peak we got to, with more of Yatsugatake (it means 8 peaks!), behind James. Last time we came here, all we could see was cloud.
More Yatsugatake, and note some examples of the distinctive windily shaped trees. Not much wind this time though.
-- Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/30/2013 09:11:00 PM
It was starting to cool a little in early September and I braved a run to work. To wile away the time I decided to count hornets and, in about 45 minutes, got to 29. In the weeks that followed the numbers dwindled. It was the year of the plague of hornets, but now it is almost all over. New predators have arisen!
Hornets like to use the human-made paths in the thick forest vegetation. They are kind of like hornet motorways. A couple of weeks ago, suspended over such a path at Jufukuji temple were a series of webs of which this was one.
Yes - it is a spider sucking out the insides of a neatly wrapped hornet. Now we know why the thread in their webs is so ridiculously tough - it's to make the most of the once-in-a-decade hornet bonanza!
Elsewhere smaller spiders were just posing attractively over gravestones, eager to attract boyfriends for supper.
-- Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/24/2013 03:48:00 PM
Getting cooler here again, which means it is running season. Yesterday jules and I ran a marathon, with "a" being the operative word, as we only did half each (not as a relay). It was the day of the "Turtle Marathon", the name of which is a mystery to me, other than that it was run by the "Japan Turtle Association" which seems to be an NPO which promotes exercise for the elderly. But that's just the next turtle in the stack. Anyway we fitted right in with the target demographic.
We were running at the same time, so we don't have any photos but here is an artist's impression of the scene:
It was raining steadily at the start, and absolutely tipping it down by the end, despite the event falling conveniently between last week's typhoon and this week's typhoon. I think the weather is teasing us for boasting about Japan's amazingly sunny winter weather, especially as we have a visitor from the UK at the moment. Though at least this means it wasn't too hot, which was a relief after what has seemed like a long hot summer. The event website was warning that the main risk was heatstroke, with the temperature reaching 30C at the same event two years ago. This time, hypothermia - or perhaps even drowning in the mudbath of the event centre - was probably a greater risk. The course was the same riverside path that I ran my first half on, though starting from the other end this time.
It was jules' first attempt at this distance, and even after being hugely held up at the start (lots of congestion on a fairly narrow path) she comfortably achieved her 2h goal with 1h58:20 (216th out of 1160 women). My run was a fairly pedestrian 1:27:45 (176 out of 4955 men), almost a minute outside my best but I also lost some time at the start and wasn't running very hard. I think a lot of people didn't turn up due to the weather, they probably had an entry of 10,000. Now it is finally cold enough to run without worrying about heatstroke, so I can try running a bit harder next time.
We have travelled so much this year that the templing has been a bit neglected. Recently, however, we have put in some effort, in between dodging hornets while trying to run for too long. First, Hokokuji. Apparently it lapsed almost into nonexistence before tourism became popular (around end of 19th century), but there is a good chance that the bell that hangs in this little building dates from well before then.
These days Hokokuji is famous for its grove of giant bamboo.
At the back of which you can enjoy matcha (frothy green tea-ceremony tea).
It is also not impossible that these caves may contain some old tombstones of the priests of the olden days.
Not sure if it is a sign of insanity in the chief priest, or just a gardener doing some experimentation, but someone has planted red triffids in the Zen dry garden, and encouraged clumps of little blue weed-flowers to grow. Very odd.
-- Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/08/2013 04:14:00 PM