Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Waiting on spring

While the much anticipated blooming of cherry blossoms has begun in many parts of the archipelago, here in the Kiso Valley we continue to wait for spring to come. Winter breaks late here in the mountains, usually only after a long bout with the forces of spring—a warm day may be followed by a snowstorm, while a frosty night might give way to a scorching noon-day sun. Care must be taken so that one's body does not succumb to the swings in temperature. . .layered clothing is a must.

However, despite this small burden, in Otaki the liminal period between winter and spring is a marvelous time. Warmer days draw resident to their fields and gardens to prepare soils for planting. Excursions into the mountains, where the trees still stand skeletal and leafless, allow one to experience the first flourishes of the year's wild vegetable harvest. Fuki-no-toh (butterbur sprout) are the first to arrive; they hide beneath the fallen leaves of the previous year. In the days to come a cornucopia of vegetables will appear in the hills: yama-wasabi, yomogi , zenmai, warabi, toriashi-shouma, tara-no-me, yama-udo, fuki, and on and on.

And eventually, after the lowlands are well on their way to summer, the mountains of Otaki will begin to blush with cherry blossoms. This will be followed by a great swell of green as the forests here come to life in one great rush, eager for the few precious months of warm they are blessed with each year. Until then, all of us—plants, animals, and perhaps especially humans—will wait patiently for the coming of the spring.

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8 comments:

Project Hyakumeizan said...

There must be great "sansai (mountain vegetable) soba" in your neck of the woods....

Leon Koh said...

is there any way of doing a homestay at some farmland at japan countryside?

you have a lovely blog :)

Taintus said...

PH,

Yeah, there is a lot of good sansai soba for sure. . .too much soba perhaps. There's a small place in the farthest back hamlet of "Takigoshi" that serves great soba in the summers. Here's the link, or from the sidebar: たきごし日記

Taintus said...

Leon,

I know there are opportunities for rural homestays in Japan. Don't have any links off the top of my head. Will try to get back to you. Also, if any others readers know of anything, please post a comment.

-Eric

Tornadoes28 said...

When do the sakura arrive in your area?

Taintus said...

Hi Tornadoes28,

Sakura usually comes to Otaki around the end of April/early May. However, this year has been very unusually warm, so they will probably come earlier.
The plum blossoms have already opened.

Cheers,

Eric

Leon Koh said...

thanks Eric.. I will really appreciate if you are able to give me some contacts.. I am able to provide some manual work to exchange for some simple home stay:)

Leon Koh said...

thanks Eric.. I will really appreciate if you are able to give me some contacts.. I am able to provide some manual work to exchange for some simple home stay:)