Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gomaishura 五枚修羅

On Friday Chizuko and I used our last day of sunshine before the rains of a typhoon expected in the Tokyo area came to go back to the Akazawa National Forest, our favorite spot we've discovered so far. This time we stopped at a place on the river called gomaishura. Shura 修羅 in Japanese means, "timber chute". This particular location was used up until the early part of the 20th century for drawing out logs that had been floated down the river from forests further upstream. The unique rock formations here apparently look similar to stacks of aligned logs that were counted using the character mai 枚; there are five (go 五 in Japanese) rock layers, hence gomai 五枚. So, altogether the name becomes gomaishura 五枚修羅--five stack timber chute (or something like that).

At gomaishura the river flows--tumbles really--down a channel at the bottom of a large outcropping of granite that comprises the river bed. On some of the rock faces, one can still see old drill marks from where slabs were removed to make room for logs. Small puddles of water that lay in crevices away from the river were teaming with small black tadpoles that scattered when I approached. I had another brush with "wildlife" when a very large bee used my leg as a resting place; no sudden moves, but plenty of time to take a photo.

Laying and watching the river roar down the rocks below was a great way to while away an afternoon.

Friday evening I attended a hanseikai 反省会 (reflection meeting), presumably to reflect on the festival that our section of the village put on last week. However, like other "meetings" I've attended, it was merely a pretense for eating and drinking. The reflecting was over in about 5 minutes. . .just time enough to see that we had made enough money to cover food and booze for the night--good enough for me. Seafood from Awaji island near Kobe had been bought for the occasion and so we all got busy downing a feast of shell fish, fish, steak, and chicken. Unfortunately, I went heavy on the Korean liquor and was basically in a comma for most of the day today. But, fun as always. . .

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