Monthly Archives: November 2016

Rainy Day Persimmons


On the way home, I took a little detour, parked beside a narrow stream, stepped out under the grey skies and into a light rain—and took a little walk. When it’s not so bright, things that are bright of and by themselves sometimes look a little special.

There were a lot of flowers growing in and around garden patches. And of course, the persimmons. And behind the persimmons, in the misty distance, our dearest of friends, Ryuso Mountain.


I wasn’t surprised, back home, that Shizuoka Duo showed up on my doorstep. Just one look in their faces—and I could tell they’d had a day pretty much like mine.


They’d sung this one for me before, but as you might imagine, on a day like today, when everything is so grey, it really touched me.


Mist fills the grey

Grey fills the cloud

Cloud fills the sky

Sky fills my eyes

Eyes fill our mind

Mind fills with dreams

Dreams make our world

World all so grey.


Grey is our play

On a day like today

Grey is just grey

As we go on our way.


I saw a girl

Turn a cartwheel twirl

Leaping through the grey

Laughing at the day

She calls out to me

Up soars my heart

But then she fades away

And all I feel is grey.



Love Unbound


There was a lovely blue sky and we thought we’d take a stroll around the neighborhood. Just then, Shizuoka Duo showed up. They asked if they could join us—then asked if we minded walking out the north end, through the mountain tunnel.

It was a strange request. A few days ago, we’d enjoyed a hike together along the Opikkari Ridge. The trees had been lovely, the yellow beeches and red maples, and Shizuoka Duo had been in the highest of spirits. Now, though, they seemed distracted, to say the least. Geez, I thought, what’s got them wanting to step into a long, dark tunnel?


When we got to the tunnel though, I realized I’d read their expressions all wrong. They weren’t distracted at all. They were concentrating. They’d written a new song and wanted to hear what it sounded like in the tunnel.

Obviously, they must have liked what they heard (actually, it sounded better in the tunnel), because they kept singing bits of it the whole hour we walked.



We can look all around

And we can make oh such lovely sound.

And we know our love is unbound.

So go out and find the things that can be found.

Look around

Lose the bounds

Share some sound—

See what’s found.

Nerves unwound.

Love unbound.

Yeah, all around,

The love is sound.


The mountain river runs with water pure.

Follow up, your path is clear and sure.

The deep dark green is one more sound allure.

Here you know the love will long endure.

Big allure

Water pure

Path is sure

To a cure.

Don’t injure

Love that’s pure

On our tour

Love endures.


Look up to the gold leaves of the beech

Think about the lives of each and each.

What they know is so within your reach

Hear the words with which they beseech


Each is each

Branches reach

Bright gold beech

Will beseech

Beeches teach

Lose your sneech

Each is each

All our niche


Climb the trail and see what you can learn

Find the things that might be of your concern

Feel the heat a distant planet burns—

When you gaze into a bright green spinning fern.


Yearn and yearn

Feel the burn

Inside the fern.

Stay concerned.

Don’t be spurned.

Do discern

All to learn.


We can look all around

And we can make oh such lovely sound.

And we know our love is unbound.

So go out and find the things that can be found.

Look around

Lose the bounds

Share some sound—

See what’s found.

Nerves unwound.

Love unbound.

Yeah, all around,

The love is sound.


Color me happy


Hello, hello! What a lovely day! Why don’t we drive up to Umegashima—it’s only an hour from here—and take a walk in the woods. The trees should be gorgeous right about now.


All the Hearty Hikers are going.

Including those two guys, Shizuoka Duo, who fancy themselves as “homegrown folk singers.”

And you know what they like to sing:

If you have the time / To come along with me

The will to climb / To where you can see . . .


So come on, let’s go.


Okay, okay. The truth is we’ve already gone. We’re already back.

But we wish you’d been there. And we guess that some of you, given the fact that today is Nov. 3, 2016, are going to be mighty stressed out for the next five or six days. Some of you may even have some sleepless nights. A walk in the woods might help.

And we’ve got great confidence in these mountains that surround Umegashima, home, by the way, to some of the most soothing hot springs you’ll find anywhere. Soft, soft water. An hour soak for 400 yen—maybe $3 US.

Yeah, we’ll surely stop by our favorite tub on the way back.

We’re pretty sure that you’re going to love what you see. And we’re pretty sure (as long as we don’t talk politics . . . I’m trying to reduce your stress, not add to it), that when the day is done, you’ll think we Hearty Hikers are a mighty fine lot.

I must confess I’ve felt a lot of stress this election season myself—and I don’t even live in the U.S.

But I do read a bit of social media from time to time and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called a “simpleton” or a “moron” or a “scumbag”—or (my favorite) a “f–king idiot.” No, people haven’t said to me directly, “Hey, Steve, you are a f–king idiot!” . . . but they have said that anyone who thinks xxx—which is exactly what I do think—is a f–king idiot. So I can’t help but conclude, having studied logical syllogisms in college, that they think I’m one, too.

Maybe I am.

But I still don’t like to be called one. You probably don’t, either.

So if you’re going to come with us today, we’d prefer that you didn’t ask us what we think about the election.

Because, if current polls are to be trusted, there’d be about a 50/50 chance of you thinking I was  indeed a f–king idiot.

Tough discussions are necessary sometimes. For sure. But if your “discussion” is going to lead you to call someone a f–king idiot, then I’d say it’s much, much better just to take a walk in the woods and look up at some trees. Better just to look all around.

Better to say together, with everyone, no matter who everyone is, “Man, that’s beautiful!”

Better to keep gazing out over the ridge at Fuji-san, with everyone, enjoying how majestically she sits on the horizon.

After fifty or sixty “Man, that’s beautiful!,” after five or six hikes, we might be able to talk a bit about government and social issues, but the election will unfortunately be over by then.

Okay, enough talk.  Let’s go.

Oh! I should warn you, though. Those Shizuoka Duo guys, they get giddy up in the mountains. If they could keep their joy to themselves, that would be one thing, but they can’t. Before you know it, they’ll burst out singing, singing really loud . . . AND — THEY — CANNOT — SING — IN — KEY!

But let’s forgive them. And let’s get going. I really have talked way too much.

The hour is getting late.


Beech trees!


A beech leaf!


Our dear friend Fuji!

161103_birches_blue_sky_600Silver birches!




Red maples! (With a touch of orange!)


Maples on fire!


The warm glow of persimmons!


I mean, the warm glow of maples! Embers in the breeze!


And what do you know! The southern Alps have decided to come to the party!

161103_fuji_3_600And there’s our dear friend Fuji again!


And more . . .


. . . and more maples!


Beech trees, birches, and maples!

The number of trees in the picture below is a bit difficult to discern, but you can see clearly the thick trunk of the tree with the green leaves.


It’s a pretty old tree and has rotted out a bit . . . and into the two big holes in its trunk, leaves have fallen and decomposed, and in those “garden pots” have sprung up a maple tree (look for the yellow) and a mountain azaela (look for the red). It has become three trees in one? Wow! Who’s your enemy? Who’s your friend?


A mountain azaela!


And Fuji!






And of course, as the day winds down—yes, yes, I’m a little tuckered out, too—susuki. Pampas grass.


Okay! Off to the hot springs! Gonna feel mighty good!161103_fuji_6_600