Once again last Saturday I joined P.T.O. (People Together for Mt. Ogura) for another day of pine cutting on the summit of Mount Ogura. Above you can see a misty view of the Hozu river gorge. To the right of the view in the foreground is a pine tree that is completely brown. It has unfortunately succumbed to the pine disease that is killing so many trees not only on Mount Ogura but throughout Japan. This is why we are cutting down the pine trees that have died – to stop the disease from spreading. Below is another view of the Hozu river. In a week or two when the maples have turned, this view will be spectacular. Many people will be taking the Torokko train through the valley and the Hozu-kudari boat trip back to Arashiyama to enjoy the wonderful autumn scene… little knowing a large part of the oaks and pines in the Saga/Arashiyama are threatened by separate diseases…
Despite the drizzling rain on Saturday morning the decision was made to go ahead with the climb up Ogura and at least cut down a few trees before the rain came down to hard. There weren’t so many of us on this occasion as the student contingent were unavailable, just the regular members from P.T.O., plus four Brits: Stephen Gill, myself, my co-worker Chris Carver and new recruit Mark Oseland. Here is Stephen enjoying the view part way up the mountain.
This was the first time for Mark Oseland to join us. Mark recently moved to Kyoto with his family after their home in Tokyo was rendered uninhabitable by the earthquake in March. As it was his first time up, Stephen was giving him a thorough tour. Stephen is a mine of information on all things Ogura: the history, the literary history and the natural history! Whether it’s an ancient standing stone, the cry of a jay in the woods, or just a hidden path to another glorious view, Stephen is the perfect guide.
Because of the rain and the fearsome clouds of gnats that were eating us alive (!) we finished work early but we managed to get a few trees down before we headed back down. The Japanese half of our group then headed down to a riverside bar for some early afternoon beers whilst the Brits headed back to Stephen’s for a nice cup of tea. As always it was a fun day, excellent exercise out in the fresh country air and all for the worthy cause of preserving our local environment! Mark said he enjoyed himself and I’m pretty sure he’ll be back again. If you would like to join P.T.O. in their activities please check their website for details. The next event scheduled is a rubbish clearing day in the oak woods on Sunday the 27th of November and they will need a lot of help with that!