Into the woods!
Two of the most rewarding activities I have been involved in during my time in Kyoto, are the events organized by the Hailstone Haiku Circle, and the conservation activities of People Together for Mt. Ogura (PTO). Stephen Gill is a primary organizer of both organizations, and so some of their activites tend to merge. So it was that on October 26th Mewby and I took part in a joint Hailstone/PTO hike along the Rice Buyers’ Way between Mizuo and Saga, in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto.
The Komekai no Michi 米買の道 was the route taken by citizens of Heian-kyo and their horses and oxen when they went off to buy cheaper, more delicious rice from Mizuo, Koshihata and the province of Tamba beyond. The journey involved climbing at least two passes (there is a third on the way to Koshihata/Kameoka). With an early start and a brisk pace, the buyer’s mission could possibly have been accomplished in a single strenuous day… Few people pass this way nowadays, but the trail is still pretty good…
However, unlike the rice buyers, we would walk in only one direction and not there and back again. Meeting up at Hozukyo station at 9am, we boarded a mini-bus for Mizuo. From here we would hike back to Kyoto. Here are some pictures from our walk.
The view from Mizuo. This little mountain village was once the home of the Emperor Seiwa (清和天皇, Seiwa-tennō, 850–878) and it was here he passed away.
Stephen and Mewby tree hugging at Enkaku-ji, Mizuo.
Here Mewby inspired me. “Look at the spider web shining! Doesn’t it look just like a CD!” she said. And, “Did you know that in experiments spiders change the shape of a web according to the music they are played?”
to what tune
does the spider spin
this disc that snares the light?
On our way…
Much of the route is sign-posted.
Stephen Gill – upstream
東の田んぼ跡 – The east rice field ruins. Hard to believe this was once farmland.
Another source of inspiration, this fungus is called サルノコシカケ or Monkey’s seat. Surprisingly it can actually take quite a bit of weight.
a fungal seat –
each in turn, we try to prove
we are monkeys
And Okiharu Maeda’s translation:
大岩 – The big rock
Kunugi is a type of oak, but there was no kunugi to be seen here. Maeda-san explained that there must have been one in times past, that was used as a landmark to help people find the way…
for the ghost of the tree,
that pointed the way,
now stands a simple sign
Mr. Gill in reflective mood
「アメンボ！」 says Mewby 「見て！」
water strider –
back and forth he stakes a claim:
this rock is mine
The Hozu River Gorge
One of PTO’s main activities is collecting rubbish that has been illegally dumped on Mount Ogura. Maeda-san and Stephen were scouting out an area in need of work along the way…
The return to Saga
Having returned to Saga, those that still had energy visited a Balinese eatery and there over our drinks and just desserts, we shared our haiku. You can read some haiku from the other walkers here: Of Michio, Toshi and the Village of Mizuo
A reward at journey’s end.
Many thanks to Stephen Gill for organizing a very enjoyable day.
If you would like to join in the activities of the Hailstone Haiku Circle or PTO then please visit the websites below.