Monday, April 21, 2008

王滝村の紹介  An Introduction to Otaki Village

Today, the wifey and I had a chance to look around Otaki a bit.

However, before I get into that, allow me to give some orientation as to Otaki's location in Japan.

The village is located a little over 200 kilometers west of Tokyo, in the southwest of Nagano prefecture, along the border with Gifu Prefecture.

Otaki lays at the southeastern foot of Mt. Ontake 御嶽山. This volcanic mountain is revered by many who come to make pilgrimages and worship at various shrines and spots of natural wonder. In 1984 a strong earthquake caused a section of the mountain to crumble and flow into Otaki, killing several people. Ontake is definitely alive and well, greeting us with a small tremor on our first night in the village.

Here's a depiction of Ontake showing the various shrines and pilgrimage stages.

So, that's where I'm located.

Next, a few photos of the new bungalow.

The house is located a bit west of the village center, below a "children's forest", where kids used to come to learn about forestry (another well intentioned--well funded project, that doesn't seem to have panned out).

Today we also visited Otaki's Mt. Ontake shrine--a set of stone stairs leading to a small alcove where visitors can collect water flowing from the mountain. Finally, we visited "kiyotaki" (清滝) waterfall, where those strong in body and spirit don special white clothes and step below the falls to brave the freezing meltwater.

As we traversed the hills and valleys of Otaki, the one constant was Ontake itself, sitting solid like a cross-legged monk--peacefully oblivious to all the comings and goings below.

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