Monday, October 13, 2008

Otaki in color: variations on fall

I've been busy of late with preparations for the American Anthropological Association meeting in San Francisco next month, and a series of discussions about "resilience" here in the village this month. However, a visit by friends from Miyako-jima in Okinawa gave me a good excuse to get out and enjoy fall in Otaki.

Days here in Otaki are warm--hot, when the sun is hitting directly--but the mornings and evenings are accompanied by a stern cold that nips at one's bare parts.

Our Okinawa friends brought with them blue skies; heavy morning rain clouds cleared as we drove from Kiso-Fukushima station to Takigoshi, Otaki's smallest and most isolated hamlet.

We started with a walk in the forest where we stopped to gather kuri (chestnuts).
At midori-no-buchi we took time to warm ourselves in the sun and to marvel at the strokes of red and orange painted on the trees above us.
I-san, who runs the soba restaurant in Takigoshi, is in the middle of harvesting soba for the first time. The eldest member of the hamlet, M-san, was there to check on his progress. The black soba lay out on large tarpaulin, drying in the low slung rays of the sun.
As we waited for lunch to be prepared the warmth of the sun drew us out to play.
After feasting on soba, fresh grilled veggies, and tender Shinshu pork, I-san suggested we take his kayak out on the lake that sits next to the restaurant. It was easy not to refuse.
The lake was calm, with only a light wind lapping at the water's surface, just strong enough to carry away with it any cares we had been burdened with. Small flocks of birds swooped and climbed all around us, ducks flew in pairs or trios, and a solitary hawk soared directly overhead.
From a nearby mountain pass that sits on Nagano's border with Gifu more fall colors and a sweeping view of Ontake-san.
The next day we drove to Ta-no-hara for a closer look.
The clear fall air also blessed us with views of the surrounding mountains: Japan's north, central, and south Alps (I prefer their original names: Hida, Kiso, and Akaishi).
Finally, a stop at Shintaki, one of the two main sacred waterfalls in Otaki.
Drunk on the wonders of a beautiful fall day.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Sounds like a perfect fall day!! I've enjoyed reading your blog. When are you coming to San Fran?