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Monday, July 18, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Waterfall

It's a beautiful sunny Monday and I have found myself with a day have in compensation for having "worked" on Saturday (going to my school festival can hardly count as working, but definitely not complaints here!)
I suggest to V that we pack in the car and go look for a waterfall we've heard about. Driving west on Route 2 out of Hiroshima takes us to Ootake, and the waterfall is supposedly somewhere near the exit for the toll road. Not really knowing where to go, I take a wild guess and turn up a road along a river in the general vicinity of said exit. 2 or 3 blocks and a sign bearing the name "錦竜の滝" (I'm not quite sure of the reading, but (I think it's nishikiryuu).
We drive up a narrow road through a thick forest of cryptomeria, and beach, bamboo and hackberry Ferns blanket the hillsides, and kudzu creeps over everything. After a short drive we reach the end of the road and find a bridge spanning the river just in front of a river management dam. A trail leads up from the bridge, and we take it.
A short 15 minute walk takes us to a beautiful waterfall plunging into a wide pool perfect for a summer swim. The water feels amazing, and the setting is gorgeous.
I think I will definitely be here again.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Owls and parks


The other weekend we drove up to Miyoshi City in search of fireflies (last post). After arriving, we had a few hours to kill before dark, so we grabbed some food and stopped by 尾関山公園 "Ozeki Yama Park."

From the parking lot, the first thing I notice is a dry-creek rock garden. Huge boulders outline an imagined waterway bordered by hydrangeas and stone lanterns and crossed by several bridges. A large dormant waterwheel adorns one end. My first thought is how beautiful it would be were water actually flowing. But as I look on the garden bathed in the afternoon sunlight filtering through the trees, I begin to "see" the water that isn't there, and imagine what the designer wanted to suggest.

Heading past the garden and into the park, I look up into the nearby beech trees and spot a large bird standing vigil over the path. Immediately I recognize the outline of a small hawk or kite. But as I peer up, I notice its huge yellow eyes--not the angled, piercing eyes of a hawk, but the saucer-round staring eyes of an owl.
Having never seen an owl in the wild, I excitedly raise my camera and start snapping away, my subject benignly, if not disinterestedly watching, expression filled, I imagine, with the patient, ancient wisdom famed of his kind. He poses for a number of poses willingly enough, until I move in closer when, finally tiring of the imposition on his afternoon, he flies off.

Later, after a fruitless Google search in English for this bird, I have more luck with Japanese and find the bird is called an あおぶずく-- a brown hawk-owl. Common to South-east Asia,
the owl has features resembling hawks and kites, but shares the typical traits of its more distinctive cousins, like its large eyes and nocturnal lifestyle.

After my encounter with the owl, the rest of the park is pleasant, but ultimately uninspiring. We follow a path up a wooded hill leading to a wide grassy field at the summit. Cherry trees ring the outside, and a large, dilapidated stage sits off at one end. We sit in the grass next to a cherry tree and begin feasting on our lunch, while the denizens of mosquitos begin feasting on us. We quickly tire of the arthropodic assault and flee back down to the car, deciding its time to begin our search for fireflies.