Sunday, September 19, 2004

Rokko and more blog.

This has been a fine summer weekend so far, which just happens to be three weeks into meteorological autumn. Yesterday we were out and about a lot, right up the border with Wisconsin, about which I might make note of here sometime soon. But for now, it’s notes from other Septembers.

September 16, 1991.

I make a point these days of taking day trips outside of Osaka every Friday or Saturday. Saturday before last the charter members of the Tennoji Research Society, which consists of me, two Australians and a Scotsman, left our urban haunts for Mt. Rokko, one of a selection of short green mountains Kobe City’s backside. Some of the mountains are developed – into resorts, a few patches that pass for golf courses, and assorted other odd spots.

We chanced upon one of the odd spots. It was -- and this isn't quite the right term, for there isn’t one -- a recreational obstacle course. Was it an ironman exercise facility? A vision of hell for the slothful? Can’t say, but I can note that it consisted of 40 obstacles, mostly built of rope and logs, over which you crawled, climbed, clawed or otherwise made your way across. A simple one involved walking across the butt end of logs, which were stuck into the ground at various heights, guided by a pair of parallel ropes for handholds. Something more complex involved walking over a mesh of rope -- not too tight a mesh, either, and swaying under your weight -- this time guided by parallel logs.

Dominic, who at 25 has the exuberance of 15, did one after the other without hesitation. Matt and Simon were less thorough. I skipped most of them, but wore myself out anyway. Still, we all had a fine time and were so tired by the course that we cut short the hike along the side of Rokko, our original purspose. We did get some hiking in, though, and caught a vista of Osaka Bay all the way from Kobe to Wakayama, including the spot where an artificial island is under construction to be the new Kansai International Airport. From that vantage, we noticed a layer of haze clinging to the area below, and that made us draw breath with an appreciation of how much cleaner the air was up there.

The day before yesterday I went to the Kishiwada Matsuri [Festival]. The main event is masses of people dragging very heavy carts by very thick ropes, cart and human alike decorated lavishly in a distinctively Japanese way, through the streets of the city, round corners at a fairly high clip, with men on top of the carts dancing -- or at least gyrating. A good show. But lunch was the day’s real treat, maybe because it was unexpected. A friend’s friend invited us to her house for lunch, which turned out to be a feast of things nine out ten Westerners wouldn’t eat. Me, I’m the tenth Westerner, so I ate it all, various cuts of sushi, bamboo shoots, an assortment of unidentifiables, blobs of this and stacks of that. I was displeased only by one item. Now, I wish I could remember the names of all these things.


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