Monthly Archives: November 2015

Into the grey


Sometimes you look into the grey and all you see is grey. I’ve had days like that. Maybe you, too. Once I looked out at all that grey and felt so damned blue that all I thought I could do about it was scream.

So I did. Sort of.

But a few weeks back, the Hearty Hikers’ team (of two, this time) had spent a wonderful evening in the Kenmin-no-mori cottages with a great bunch of people who were all great cooks—great cooks who like to provide plenty—and when we woke up the next morning and strapped on our hiking boots, eager to scramble up to the top of Yambushi (first time ever from the Ikawa side of the mountain), we easily saw, inside the grey, the lovely day that was to unfold.

The grey has body. It holds a lot. Sometimes, at least, I know that to be true.

151115_misty_road2_600From the Kenmin-no-mori campground, we drove into the mist for about thirty minutes, then parked and started up the ridge.

Some others thought of coming along but didn’t. Some of them may have been worried about how strenuous it might be. I hope they’ll come next time. Many trails have sitting trees (those of you up on your evolution know all about them),  but on this trail we actually discovered a lovely sleeping tree, quite rare in this particular area.


What can I say? The trail relaxes. Next time, if you come, rest assured, the trail will take care of you.

Some of you may want the numbers: Ushikubi Pass (10:07), Inoshishi no Dan Bunkyo (11:12), Hyakujo Pass trailhead sign (11:50), top of Yambushi (12:15 – 12:41), Hyakujo Pass (13:05), along the road to Ushikubi Pass (13:45).

The trail up to Yambushi pretty much parallels the road so you can jump into the hike from four or five different places. If you park at the Hyakujo Pass, you can get to the top of Yambushi in about 35 – 40 minutes. But you’ll miss the sleeping tree.

And you won’t see the stand of glistening birch trees.


And you won’t see the mountain tilt up to the sun.


And you’d drive right by the ocean and never know it was there.


It was a nice walk. Our buddy, Fuji-kun, played hide-and-seek with us.

151115_fuji_600 Yet, it was a good day to poke our noses into the grey . . . and inhale.

A good day to peck . . .


. . . a good day to scratch.


I’m not sure if you’re familiar with trail signs in this particular language, so here’s the official translation of the Official Translation Society of the sign above: “You are on the trail. If you’d like to hike together, stick around ’til dusk.”

Actually, though, linguists have been bickering  over the translation for years and years. The transcendental grammarian faction, which some years ago left the OTS over the dispute, insists that it reads, “Aren’t you glad you walked into the grey?”

Who’s to say who’s right? Take a nap on the sleeping tree and maybe the answer will come to you.

But I can’t make you any promises.


Kita 3 cho-me — 8 (waxing poetic)


The pros got the second coat on . . .


. . . the one with the roughed up texture . . . so it seemed appropriate, with the help of a Hearty Hikers buddy,  to get in some Sunday painting—and Sunday waxing.


First was the karin (Chinese quince tree) desk. The wax was German-produced.


The karin shined up pretty good. The angle of  the tapering desk reflects the angle of the north and east walls of the house.  You’ll have to visit to feel the angles of this room—the sloping ceiling, the tapering wall.


Next, the single, big slab of keyaki (Japanese selvoka tree), that marks the border between the living room, and the tatami-mat room. The tatami mats will fill in the area that is now plywood.


It, too, shines up pretty good . . .


. . . and if the keyaki is happy, I’m happy.


Here you are looking into the tatami room again, all but the edge of the keyaki resting peacefully beneath protective cardboard and plywood. Sliding paper doors will separate this room from the living room. The horizontal piece of wood, about 180 cm from the floor, is the top rail for the sliding doors. Eventually a ceiling will go in and rest on top of the round “poles,” but except for that, everything you see above the rail will remain as it is. So even when the paper doors are closed, the space above them remains open. The darker, “crooked” pieces of wood are enju (Sophora japonica), the round pieces are whole cedar trunks of not so big trees, and the short, vertical piece in the middle is kiri (Paulownia).

I hope you like it. Because if you come to visit, this is where you’ll have to stay!

The pantry beckoned, too. Regular old painting here.


Dancing Lessons from God


Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.

Kurt Vonnegut


And it helps, we say here at Persimmon Dreams, if you travel by bicycle. Easier that way to hear what the lotus pond has to say.


Easier to hear the bee.


Easier to spot the little fruit stand, with the big bag of persimmons (22 persimmons!) for only one hundred yen. Easier to stop and buy them.

It gets your noggin’ going.

Did mine.

Look close, if you can read a bit of Japanese, and you might just see Persimmon Dreams floating in the sky.



Kita 3 cho-me — 7


Getting mortared up.


A rough first coat (on the left), and a second smooth one, with bits of the fiberglass netting showing (netting that keeps the mortar from falling down into the road), on the right. The final coating, non-mortar, will look quite different, with a little luck, a bit like “antique brick.”


Artists at work.

And yes, there will be a . . .


. . . a bathtub. For those of you not familiar with the Japanese way of doing things, the low counter is to sit at, on a stool, while you soap up, scrub, and rinse, BEFORE getting in and soaking. Unfortunately, you can’t see how spacious the bathtub itself is. You’ll have to come visit. (Guaranteed free rooms for Hearty Hikers.)


And there’s a view from the bedroom window. (Yes, just one bedroom—but plenty of spaces (the downstairs tatami room, in particular) for guests. No worries.)

151031_kita3_living_wiindow_600And if you sit at the edge of the tatami room, (the floor of which is a foot or so higher than that of the living room), on the nifty piece of antique wood that your builder is trying to talk you in to adding to the plan, and look across the living room, this is the view you’ll have. When things are done, I’ll take the scaffolding down! Probably more on the “antique wood” later.