It’s Tuesday, November 29 and I’m so behind on my posts! I have several posts started but none of them finished. I aim to get one completed right now.
One of the reasons that John and I have looked so forward to coming to Japan is to see the Fall colors on the trees. John especially has been excited about the change in seasons since he had to leave seasons behind when he moved to California. I heard that it has actually been raining in California recently and that is great news because the state needs every raindrop it can get.
We went to three places to see Japan’s colorful Autumn trees. Momiji is the Japanese maple by the way, and the fire red leaves are incredible. The bright yellow sunshine color of the Japanese gingko trees are also stunning. Each place was more beautiful than the last. The first was a bike and hike away. The second was a challenging bike and uphill climb but pressed for time we drove there in about 15 minutes. The third was in a neighboring town and it took about an hour and a half to get there.
We’ve tried to get up to Minoh Falls with the kids to see the trees but as one of my recent posts noted, it was a “drag you up the hill” kind of trip last time. And Halyard didn’t even make it since he turned his bike around en route. So now we’ve decided to switch tactics. Ditch the kids. Go up by ourselves and enjoy the walk.
On Tuesday, November 15, we set out after the kids went to school and we had a nice bike ride and hike up to the waterfall. On the way the leaves were beautiful. Some trees looked like they were on fire. Some looked like gold. As we hiked up further the trees were not as brilliant as the lower trees. At the waterfall it seemed like the trees had reached their peak and they were turning dark already. It was beautiful anyway.
At the waterfall there are vendors selling snacks and treats. We bought takoyaki (fried balls of batter and octopus – it’s an Osaka specialty) and grilled squid. They were steaming hot off the grill, which was nice because by the time we arrived at the waterfall it was chilly.
Katsuo-ji is a beautiful hilltop temple with sprawling grounds that is near our house. The first time we went there, in mid-October, we rode our bikes to the bottom of the hill and hiked up to the temple. We left the bikes just off a main road, in a neighborhood of homes, and by the time we were 10 minutes in to our hike it was like we were in the middle of a forest far from civilization.
Amazing! The hike up to Katsuo-ji is challenging, steep at times and about an hour each way. Unfortunately, we didn’t have three hours to spare this day so John said let’s take the car!
These are Daruma dolls. Katsuo-ji seems to have a connection with them as they are all around the temple grounds (and in the gift shop!). They are from Japanese folk lore.
One of the most popular talismans of good luck in modern Japan is the armless, legless, and eyeless Daruma doll, or tumbling doll. It is made of paper mache, weighted on the bottom so it always stand(s) up, even when pushed- symbolic of Bodhidharma’s persistence in meditation. This has the meaning of standing up positively even if failing, and has the meaning of reaching (one’s) objective.
This time we were joined by Avalon’s friend Haruna and her family. We took a day trip to the Kobe Arboretum on Sunday, November 20. It was worth the hour each way drive. Only one toll this time!
There was even a holiday theme going on at the Arboretum. I love the ornaments hanging from these bare trees. The colors are festive. Santa and his reindeer made an appearance. At night the place has an illumination event where they light the place up with brightly colored bulbs in the trees and around the park. The photos on display looked gorgeous but we couldn’t stay until dark. The kids couldn’t last that long. After a lot of exploration and a little rain shower we ended up at the visitor center. Inside they had a whole exhibit on Sequoia trees from California! There was a huge fallen Sequoia inside where you could see the many rings and count the age of the tree. After a round of soft serve ice cream we headed out, back to Osaka.