Monthly Archives: July 2014

Friends shaking hands


I see friends shaking hands,

Saying, ‘How do you do?’

They’re really saying,

‘I love you.”

*     *      *

The thin stream disappears. You come to the sign that declares This is the beginning of the Abe River. You walk a little farther. Five minutes or so. You come to the Abe Pass, a small, roundish patch of flatness . . . a flatness that is almost indiscernible as you approach it.140727_abe_toge_green_trees_450All around the rollicking hills roll down to this one spot. Stand in the middle of it and you feel the thrust of the earth pushing the trees out of the ground every which way, doing all they can to get the canopies of green up to that one big patch of blue sky right above your head.  The thrust of the earth rushes up the tree trunks and sets all the leaves aquiver. There’s a breeze, yes, but it’s more than that. You feel it. You see it. 140727_green_leaves_galore_400

The leaves ripple with the light, shimmer. The dog days of summer have just begun, and the leaves are not yet the slightest bit fazed by the harsh heat. You only wonder if each leaf feels itself a single performer for the sky–or a part of a community, a country, a continent, a cosmos.

And then you look down and see a single leaf fallen.  140727_one_red_maple_leaf_400It’s clay red. With suspicious dark spots that ooze an eerie yellow. It’s still soft. And you wonder what it thought, suddenly  growing languid, suddenly unable to keep up the dance, this time of the year. What it thought as it struggled to keep a grip and defeat the dizziness, and then drifted down, helplessly, unseasonably, to where it rests now.

You could leave it where it lies. In its open-air tomb beneath the celebration above. Or you could pick it up. Wrap it in a paper towel. Put it in your backpack. Take it home. Stick it in between the pages of a book. But it won’t  matter. You’ll still feel the spectacle above all the more grand.

Up you go, up the steep bit to Bara-no-dan. You have a feeling the wind is just strong enough to clear out just enough haze to open up a nice view of Mt. Fuji, snowless in late July. And what do you know. Your feeling is right!140727_bara-no-dan_fuji_blue_sky_300

This particular hike was on July 27, for those of you who like to keep score responsibly.

And just look at this mushroom. It looked exactly as it does in the pic. All aglow, its stem nearly invisible, so that it seemed to be hovering, or maybe spinning in midair.


Lots of folks were out playing.

140727_butterfly_290 140727_walking_deer_290140727_deer_sitting_290 140727_bee_290

They, too, must have thought it a beautiful day.

Empathy, love . . . and bookmarks


When we here at Persimmon Dreams discovered online the article entitled “Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With” (found at . . . their capitals, not ours), we knew we had to spring into action. As amazing as it may sound, we’d been familiar with the concept of empathy for quite some time, but we’d always associated it such humdrum, non-sexy, yawn-inducing statements as, “It will make you a better human being,” “It will make you a more responsible member of society,” “It will make you feel the huge part of the universe that you are,” and “It will give you peace of mind.” We had never heard it put as alluringly and tantalizingly as the article above does, basically . . . READ BOOKS, GET SOME EMPATHY, and TURN YOUR LOVE LIFE AROUND!!!!!  (Well, actually, the article said that people who read fiction tend to develop empathy, people with empathy tend to understand their partners better and thus show more consideration, and thus such people may be worth searching out if you’re looking for a significant other. Still, I think what I wrote in capital letters may be what many folks who read the article take from it.)

Well, we’re stubborn here at Persimmon Dreams, so we have to admit that we’d wished that some of those “humdrum” ideas mentioned above had gotten into more folks’ heads, but falling in love with the right person in the right way is an awful good thing too, so what the heck. If it’s romantic love that gets folks worked up about empathy, then more power to it.


Anyway, we know this this new love angle is going to lead to some pretty darned magical stuff. People are going to be out to gorge themselves with all the empathy they can, and that will mean a lot of fighting tooth and nail through bookstores and libraries to secure copies of the most precious (the most empathy-packed) books, and getting out to the park or the beach to  READ! and to BE SEEN READING BY POTENTIAL ROMANTIC PARTNERS!

And how can you read, if you don’t have a bookmark? Why, you’d lose your place! You’d get all frustrated! You’d give up! And all the wonders that empathy could bring you would be lost to you forever!

So that’s what we here at Persimmon Dreams meant when we said above that we knew we had to spring into action. If there weren’t enough bookmarks in the world, this whole empathy thing might blow over. It might come to nothing.

So we fired up the factory. We had every employee pulling double shifts. Our designers made giant pots of coffee. Exquisite ribbons were acquired. The assembly line was reconfigured. The paper mills began bellowing paper-mill stuff into the air, and all sorts of fascinating images began flying out from the presses. In all, a lot of midnight oil was burned. The thinkers thought, the choppers chopped, the slicers and trimmers sliced and trimmed, the luminators luminated, the pokers, twisters, and knotters poked, twisted and knotted.

Quite a lot of time was spent searching for the  scissors.

Lest you doubt the grandness of our factory, take a look at it, albeit at rest, in the two matching pictures below.

140726_left_hand_250 140726_right_hand_250

So we did what we could.  And as my good friend the cowardly, tail-sucking lion used to say, “we do believe in empathy,we do believe in empathy, we do we do we do believe in empathy.”

But to be honest, we blew a couple of gaskets, and our resources (our accounting staff has just informed us), are far from limited, so the supplies of bookmarks are also limited, but still we would like to get the product of our labors into the hands of as many empathy seekers as possible . . . so if you happen to be in the neck of the woods where our company bicycle is moving merrily along–all company facilities and every single last employee piled up on the saddle (yes, yes, Henry David Thoreau would marvel at our mobility)–and your soul is open wide to the bliss that empathy can bring you, give us a shout out and ask us how you can get your hand on a bookmark.


Remember, though, supplies are limited. Severely.

Midday mist


The midday mist

turned us into shadows,

the rooty, spongy ground

lightened our step,

and once we were wet to the bone–

and knew we would get no wetter–

we minded not

when gusts pelted us with rain,


for we could marvel at the maple leaves,

themselves appreciating greatly

that time-proven partner

–the wet gray–

who enabled  them to show off

(so nimble on their firm little stems)

what dancing stars they were,


and what rollicking constellations they could be  . . .

and I knew I’d been on Aozasa Mountain before,

long ago,

as a little boy,

half a world away,

on a bright June day,


lanky legs flying through fescue,

a skinny arm extended,

raking white petals

in a long line of gardenias,

then stopping,

turning to see,

through a single eye,


a single squinting eye

(a foggy lens, the center wiped clean and clear),

the swirls of fragrance

rise up to mingle

with green pine and blue sky . . .

a fragrance unforgettable,

a fragrance soon to be forgotten.

*     *     *

July 13. Aozasayama (Aozasa Mountain).

We’d driven up through  the hamlet of Utogi and reached the parking lot at Aoi Kogen. Now two of us were sitting in the back of the car, the raised hatchback shielding us from a rain that had just started back up, and two of us were standing out in the rain, rain coat hoods in full use. What to do? Call it a day? Go through with the hike?

The rain was supposed to have started later in the day, and now we all surely knew that, the most favorable scenario was going to be (most likely, probably) five hours of walking through intermittent rain. Still, when the rain would stop for a moment, I’d (we’d?) think, for just a moment, that maybe the heavens would clear up.  That surely indicated something about what I (we) thought we were going to get that day, up along the ridge, whether it rained cats and dogs or not.

So we hiked as planned  . . . and part of the time it did rain cats and dogs. Maybe it even rained a few tanuki and inoshishi. But once you’re wet, you’re wet, and it makes no sense to worry about it. So you don’t. You just enjoy what there is to enjoy.


The sign said this way to Jizo Toge (Jizo Pass), so we headed off that way, along the asphalt  road for a while, until we came to the Jizo Toge trailhead . . . where one of the many Mr. Jizo’s was there to greet us. “You’re good,” he seemed to say. “No worries.  I get wet all the time and look at me.”


It was windy as heck up at the Toge Pass, but fortunately  another Mr. Jizo had a little shack of a shrine that he hung out in, and he invited us in for lunch. Delightful indeed.

And then on we went.


Along the ridge. In the fog and mist. Among the big  beeches and maples. Bamboo grass everywhere. Sasa. Thus the name of the mountain.140713_mushrooms_clapping_400From Toge Pass, it’s a gentle ascent, but we were happy, just the same, to have the mushrooms applauding our efforts.


A little wet, yes, but that is one happy hiker, don’t you think?

We walked on to Mumei no Toge (No Name Pass), then on up to the summit of Aozasa (top picture), then doubled back to descend from Mumei.


That way back down to Aoi Kogen was a bit steep and I thought I’d rather go up it than down, but there was lots to please the eyes. Long stretches of cool moss and rock. Then wasabi fields.


Wasabi fields. Wet, wet, wet wasabi fields. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing this is where we picked up the leeches. If that was the case, it was lucky we didn’t ascend this way. Those little suckers would have had four or five hours to find our sweet spots. As it was, we got down in about twenty more minutes and found only about twenty leeches in our boots and on our clothes. Only one leech had latched onto human flesh. On a wrist.

Leeches are not only talented vampires, but also awesome gymnasts, amazingly flexible, and capable of extraordinary leaps and somersaults. Yes, there were a few shrieks, and a few uncomfortable moments yanking off that wrist leech with tweezers, but back in the car, down from Utogi and back on the road heading back to town, we were already laughing at the leeches. The rain, as a problem, we’d dismissed hours before.


Note: One leech had hidden really well. One of our hearty hikers found it on her shin, after she’d gotten back home. She reports it was easily done in with salt.

Cedar sunrise


We were too late

to see the deer

walk the foggy ridge,


but we plunged down into the cedars–

as the deer must have–

and glanced back up

just in time

to see the sun clear the ridge

and slice into the woods,

setting the mist and fog aglow.


Were the deer watching, too? Did they wonder why we (I) stopped for such a while?

I started this June 29th hike up Ryuso at 5:25 am. Reason being a guy had told me the day before that he usually started around 5 am. He seemed to like being the first one on the mountain and to get to the ridge when the deer were still out and about. I managed to be the first one up the mountain, but the deer had already chosen other places to hang out. Maybe should have started a half hour earlier.


It was still raining a bit when I started and everything was pretty wet–which made the frogs eager for strolls. This guy was intent on not hopping. A plumpily dignified stride was just the thing for him.

“We.” You know, me and the frogs.