Monthly Archives: December 2017

Christmas hiker sitting in a tree

Christmas Day, 2017. There was rain through the night, but clouds were expected to clear off early in the morning, and we were expecting blue sunshiny skies. We weren’t sure exactly how cold it had gotten, overnight, up on Aozasa Mountain (1550 m), and weren’t sure whether we’d meet up with snow—or maybe even drifts of snow . . . and we remembered, from last year, snow up to our hips.

As always, red-coat jizo welcomed us to the neighborhood.

And it was that beautiful round face of his—or hers . . .

. . . and the beautiful blue sky that was everywhere that together—the roundness and the blue together—brought the photograph taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972, the one famously called “the blue marble,” into my mind . . .

. . . made me understand—or maybe, feel keenly, is a better way of putting it—how that single image could, in a moment, have affected so strongly the perceptions and a shifting consciousness  of so many.

An atmosphere of swirling white that knows no borders.  And no point on the surface of that slick blue globe from which you could ever imagine yourself walking in a straight line, the sort of straight line that would lead you to a place that you could declare your very own, a place you might “own.”

Private Idahos on the blue marble?

No. At least I can’t imagine it.

And no, not all, not everyone, but many.

Ended up that there wasn’t any snow up on the trail. Just the blue and and that sunshine, and the roundest of the round things, the one that seems to circle around us wherever  we go.

Yes, I’m refering to our dearest of friends, the one and only Fuji-kun.

Along the main Aozasa ridge we walked, for more than an hour, the whole time Fuji-kun right there on our left shoulder.

All along the way, we felt, right there with us, embracing us, the blue . . .

. . . and Fuji-kun.

The blue . . .

. . . and Fuji-kun.

If you can read the top part of wooden sign (currently Fuji-kun’s bellybutton), you know we’re now standing at 1550 meters, which of course, is the top of Aozasa. If we spin about, counter-clockwise, we can gaze out on the bay in front of the city of Fuji . . .

. . . and if we spin a bit more, the mouth of the Abe River.


Well, when you’ve got roundness in your head, you tend to see it in places you’ve never see it in before. Along the ridge, we came to . . .

. . . this tree. Yes, we’ve walked this ridge a dozen times, and never spotted these big fat branches. These big fat round branches.

And what’s that sitting there, sitting right there on the bottom branch. Why, indeed, it’s our good friend Fuji-kun—and he’s brought all the blue with him.

Now who could pass up an opportunity to sit in a tree with Fuji-kun and that perfect blue?

Certainly not a Hearty Hiker.

Hiker and Fuji sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love . . .

Then . . .

Wait a minute. Once you’ve found the love, what else is there of any consequence? Once you’ve found the love, everything else  works itself out.

Once you’ve found the love, then you see there are no straight lines, then you understand that a story always has an “arc”—it brings you round.

Round to the ONE.

Which is where compassion lives.

Hope you’re having, or have had, A Merry and Round and Very Blue Christmas.

Yatsuyama — a verified mountain

For the thousandth time, I’ve been asked is Yatsuyama, rising to a mighty 108 meters above sea level, really a mountain—if a person can say, without being deceptive, that after climbing to the top she has indeed been mountain climbing.

Yes, that eternal question: Is it a mountain?

Well, I cannot possibly put forth all the evidence in a single blog post, so I will just make a few points—and encourage you to check out the alleged “summit” for yourself and make your own judgement.

Point 1: Would there be guides along the way, encouraging you, saying, “You can do it, you can make it to the MOUNTAIN TOP, keep going!”—if it weren’t a mountain?

Point 2: Would it be called YatsuYAMA if it weren’t a mountain?

Point 3: Would there be both a shrine at the foot and a shrine at the top, both the homes of mountain spirits if it weren’t a mountain?

Point 4: Would you feel as light as you do were it not a mountain?

Point 5: Only 108 meters, you say. What on earth does that have to do with it, I reply. Why, I once saw a cicada nymph that had just clawed its way out from the ground, its head stood above the ground no more than a millimeter or two—and let me to you exactly what its expression said: MAN, THAT WAS A HELL OF A MOUNTAIN.

Point 6: On Yatsuyama, as with other mountains, you soon discover that your eyes have become your ears—and that you are  taking tremendous joy in listening—only in listening.

All right, enough of this nonsense, up we go, up from Gokoku Shrine, up the side of the MOUNTAIN, along the ridge, to the SUMMIT, down to the Kiyomizu Temple.