As requested, today I bring you more photos of the outdoors. These where taken during Golden Week, on two separate hikes.
The first hike was around the local reservoir/lake. This lake was created in 1968 to prevent flooding and to serve as a source of water for the town. The valley floor, now submerged, was used for town meetings, since the town was founded, as well as the home of the town’s sports arena.
According to legend, one of these meetings was to discuss the problem with the local dragon which was terrorizing the village. The black dragon, with reflective eyes, was reportedly causing crops to fail, preventing babies from being born, preventing marriages, and preventing the people from harvesting the crops. It was living on top of the near by mountain, Kurokamiyama (黒髪山), creating dark clouds around it by day and sneaking down into the village at night. The villagers agreed to send a letter to the local lord asking him to send soldiers to come and kill the monster.
Of course I had to go to the mountain to investigate myself, so we mounted a second expedition the next day.
The leader of the soldiers came up with a plan, they found an attractive maiden in the village and paid her to bait the dragon out of hiding. Then, when the monster appeared, the leader shot it in the eye with an arrow, killing it.
The name 黒髪山 translates to “black(kuro) hair(kami) mountain(yama)”. The word for god is also pronounced “kami” (though the kanji is different), which leads me to speculate that the origin of the legend comes from the name of the mountain.
The hike to the top of the mountain was fairly easy, although steep, with many stone steps along the trail. The last section of trail becomes quite technical, requiring scaling a rock face. There are ropes and chains installed to aid the climber; though one could pass without them, they give peace of mind to the no-so-surefooted. I wouldn’t recommend this last bit to the inexperienced (there is plenty to see, other than the top, so the hike isn’t a waste if you’re not feeling up for scaling a rocky cliff face), but then again, on our way down we passed a family with an 8 year old who was happily scrambling up the rocks. Maybe I’m just becoming less reckless in my old age. 😉
The hike around the lake was fairly easy, though we took the option of making a loop through another town, making a pretty good hike.
The weather on both days was warm and pleasant.