Kagoshima day #3

It was morning before I went to bed today. Not a precipitous start to a day in which I needed to be awake, breakfasted, packed and in the hotel foyer by 820am – for a day that would not see me home before 11pm.

But it was the start hat I made for myself. 😦 Sometimes fun gets payback!

We commenced the day with a short drive to get to one of the largest Japanese gardens in the country. They were huge. Built by a wealthy lord on the site of a major factory area that he controlled. The gardens spread down from the top of a hill to the sea with an outlook toward Sakurajima – an active volcano. We had a bit over an hour to walk in the gardens and look at a neighboring museum.  The entrance to the park had an odd underground stone construction, so I wandered over their first, but the rest of the group headed straight off down the path. I fell behind – but was somewhat pleased to be able to take a slow pace on my walk through the gardens.

I meandered, wandering past an ancient, water powered, rice polishing device and then found a path headed upward toward the peak. I commenced climbing. I was steep, but with steps build into the path to help with footing. I paused a few times to get my breath, but kept climbing in the peace of the forest. I passed over bamboo bridges and was helped by bamboo railings – it was a beautiful peaceful spot.

Ancient rice polishing tool.

Ancient rice polishing tool.

Japanese landscapes #1

Japanese landscapes #1

The numbers on the signs pointing to the top were getting lower, indicating I was making progress, but it was slow. I got to a look out point to find some of my more agile colleagues had made it up this path also. we discussed the option of going further, but they had concluded that we were already off the map and thought stopping was a sensible course of action. While we were waiting and enjoying the view, some others from the group puffed their way to the look out. We overheard one of the two who were there when I arrived comment that she thought she was unfit, until she saw the state of some of arriving colleagues. It did take them quite some time to recover their breath!

Japanese landscapes #2

Japanese landscapes #2

I always find it more challenging going down hills, and this day was no different. I just took my time. I got to the bottom and rested to recover my outlook on the world – looking at the steps on the way down to watch my footing had made me a little dizzy – maybe going up the hill was not such a great idea after all. But after a few breaths I recovered.

I took a short stroll through the museum before we were due back at the bus. The museum mostly housed industrial tools and machines from the factories which had formerly occupied the site.

From here we had a relatively long trip on the bus to reach one of the largest shrines in Japan. It is set in a forest and is a very peaceful location.  A 300 year old tree stands guard just inside the Tori gate (the entrance to the shrine). It stands 38m tall, has a girth of 7.5 m and is project to weigh around 750kg. And right around it were fellow trees of similar dimensions – my what stories that tree could tell!

The shrine itself was quite busy. Many queuing to pray and make their wishes at the shrine. There was a long wall tied with fortunes from visitors – the shrine sells fortunes to visitors. They are pre-written papers which the visitor selects from a lucky dip and each one gives the readers fortunes in many area of life, such as love, wealth, happiness, work etc (somewhat like a horoscope). After reading them, the recipient ties it to the long wall of string waiting to receive the fortunes. The shrines also sell other wishing icons, which people write messages on and tie to another part of the wall. Many of these wished for love, happy life for newly wed couples, or success in upcoming exams – much as might be sought in the prayers made at many other places of worship around the world! We really are not that different, wherever we may come from or whatever religion we might ascribe to.

The shrines are beautiful - this is one of the largest in Japan - I wished good things for you all!

The shrines are beautiful – this is one of the largest in Japan – I wished good things for you all!

Japanese landscapes #3

Japanese landscapes #3

In addition there was another part of the shrine in which families were gathering for what appeared to be specific ceremonies – babes in arms being dressed in beautiful kimonos (perhaps as a naming ceremony), immaculately dressed young couples gathered with older folk (perhaps to bless a new union or proposed coupling), and many more people milling around the outside. The shrine was in full swing on this day.

From here we headed to Sakurajima – it was formerly an island, but as a result of land creation from previous volcanic eruptions, it is now connected to the mainland (although on the opposite side of Kinko Bay from Kagoshima city).

We stopped past a Tori gate which had been almost totally buried in a previous eruption. The shrine to which the tori gate was the entrance was totally engulfed in the lava and is now underground. The tori gate, which once would have stood around 4-5m tall now has just 1m above the ground level – what power the earth possesses! We then went to the viewing walk, from where we could see out to the bay and up to several craters of the islands volcanoes – there is three in total, all still active.  There was not much sign of life as we watched, but there were eruption shelters just in case. The shelters were just like train tunnels (only much shorter), so I wondered aloud what happens if there is a big eruption and lava starts to flow. Needless to say, there was a few moments of concern from some other students. In the air were many hawks, no doubt enjoying the gliding offered by the warm thermal air provided by the volcano.

Japanese landscapes #5

Japanese landscapes #5

Some of the students of YLP 2013

Some of the students of YLP 2013

On the way back to the seaside, we stopped at the highest observation point, but the view was little different from the viewing walk so the stop was short. we reached the seaside and had a leisurely 70minutes before we boarder the ferry to commence our return journey to Tokyo. just as we were getting off the bus at the seaside national park, sakurajima volcano let us know is was still active – letting off plumes of ash into the air. There was much excitement and we rushed to find uninterrupted viewing points. After a gentle walk by the sea, some of us enjoyed a thermal foot bath. One last bit of warmth and spring before we head back to winter in Tokyo.

If you can peel your glance away from the beauties in the foreground, there is an erupting volcano in the background!

If you can peel your glance away from the beauties in the foreground, there is an erupting volcano in the background!

After the open air foot bath

After the open air foot bath

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Snowing in Tokyo

We awoke in the dim light of morning. I was tired and so was more than happy to relax on the pillow until the sun came up. No classes to go to that day. I said good morning to P and asked what time it was, and did we have to get up yet. He just smiled at me and said, its not a sunny day today. It was already after 9am! The light was that of pre-dawn. It was going to be an inside day! Glad I did not have to go to school.

As the day tracked on, things got no better. By early afternoon it was drizzling misty rain. P made comments about it snowing if it was a little colder…well by early afternoon he was spot on. There was light snow falling in Tokyo.

I got a call from a friend at school to see if it was snowing here, it was heavier in Roppongi – where school is, but it was still snowing at our apartment. looking out the window, the people on the street were scurrying more than usual with their heads down to keep the snow off their faces. Perhaps now I know why coats here have fluffy trim, it is to catch the snow so that it does not land on people’s faces!

It got heavier for a while before stopping in the evening. Not enough snow for it to settle on the ground – this time.

Snow falling in the forecourt

Snow falling in the forecourt

Snow over the harbour

Snow over the harbour

Me in the snow

Me in the snow

Snowy white

Snowy white

The next day we awoke to bright sunshine on a clear Tokyo day. I was okay that I had to go to school that day.

Fuji from our apartment building

Fuji from our apartment building

Kagoshima day #2

The morning saw us in relative sunshine, and the day was forecast to reach the glorious temperature of 21 degrees celsius. My kind of place.

We headed off at the respectable hour of 950am, after breakfast in the hotel. Typical Japanese brekky – rice with additives and pickles; pickled fish; slow (par)cooked eggs; yoghurt and fruit; french toast; sausages; bacon and scrambled eggs. Needless to say, I headed for yoghurt, fruit and the french toast.

Lunch was to be provided, from preselected options, but as all of these were non-vegetarian I headed to the convenience store to pick up a few emergency snacks (just in case it was a very bad showing when we got to the lunch place).

We started the morning on a very somber note – a visit to the Kamikaze pilots museum in Chiran. It was a bit of a drive, so I settled in with a book that I had packed from Oz and had not yet gotten around to reading.

Chiran was a base for Kamikaze pilots at the end of WWII. The pilots were trained at other bases, and then shifted to Chiran for only the last few days before their missions. It was, I suppose, something of a death row for these young boys. The museum has several recovered planes, uniforms and equipment used by the airforce during this period, stories about the boys who flew the planes, copies of last notes they left for family and friends, a recreation of the bunkers where they slept for their last days and footage of pilots on their missions. It was a very emotive place, and I could see that the Japanese people visiting the museum were very emotional. As was I.

There was enough signage in English to convey the stories of some of the pilots, and to give pause to though about war and all its ills. The pilots were mostly the lesser trained of the air force – the more skilled pilots were too valuable to be sacrificed in such a way. And so of course, they were young. Some as young as 16. Officially volunteers, but given little choice by their commanding officers when the call for Kamikaze pilots was made. Translated from Japanese the term Kamikaze means divine wind – toward the end of WWII these Kamikaze missions intensified and they boys were carrying out missions ‘with the favour of god’ to turn the war for their country. Whether this is really what the young men thought as they took off, we’ll never know. But not all the last letters from boys show this sentiment.

Peace by origami cranes

Peace by origami cranes

 Recovered Kamikaze plane

Recovered Kamikaze plane

Whilst a memorial to these pilots, the museum also has several reminders of the Japanese rejection of aggression in the post-war period. In Okinawa too, we say symbols such as the one in this photo – call for peace among nations and an end to wars. It is an interesting contrast to some of the public discussion in Japan and moves by Prime Minister Abe to amend the constitution of Japan to re enable the development of a combat armed force.

we have seen a few memorials with these sentiments on our travels

we have seen a few memorials with these sentiments on our travels

From here the mood picked up. We took a short drive to an old area of Chiran where many houses from the Edo area (the peak of the samurai period). The day continued gloriously sunny as we strolled through these streets. The scenes were typical of a movie set of old world Japan – rock gardens, sculptures, gravel yards, houses with rice screen walls and tatami mat floors, and pine trees manicured until they bore only the slightest resemblance to their natural form.

Japanese gardens

Japanese gardens

Peaceful moment

Peaceful moment

There were some samurai swords at one of the houses, where a very famous warrior family had lived. Needless to say there was a few sward duels amongst the boys!

Samurai warriors?

Samurai warriors?

From here we made our way to a volcanic sand bath or flower garden – depending on your inclination. I took the sand bath option, but no photos as I was buried under the sand! Those of us who sand bathed, got a few minutes to run through the flower garden when we met up with the rest of the group again. Ahhh, spring is a wonderful time, and it was definitely spring in these gardens.

It was spring in the flower park

It was spring in the flower park

 More signs of spring - if only spring could come sooner to Tokyo!

More signs of spring – if only spring could come sooner to Tokyo!

And then we headed to the sea shore for some mountain and sunset viewing. We all enjoyed clambering over the rocks, and looking at the deeply crevassed outline of the Japanese coastline. The mountains in this country have wonderfully photographic silhouettes, made all the more captivating by the setting of the sun over the sea.

It could be the Pillbra in this light! But its not.

It could be the Pillbra in this light! But its not.

Another beautiful Japanese mountain

Another beautiful Japanese mountain

Hello from Kagoshima – Day #1

Well another break from Tokyo this weekend. I am in Kagoshima! Minus P, unfortunately.

Kagoshima is in the south of Japan on the island of Kyoshu. We flew for two hours and we then spent much more time in the bus over the next three days. I have a few pics to share with you all, so I think it best to split this into a few blogs – that way if you have had enough, you can just skip over these blogs!

This is the first of our compulsory school trips and at the end we have to write a report. Always with the creative writing at this school – but enough of that for now. Let me take you through some of our adventures.

Firstly, booking a cab in a country where you don’t speak the language. Why did I manage to get stuck with this one! Me and my blood big mouth. Oh well, I managed it. After some searching i found a cab company that has an English language booking centre – so in all not that hard. But made a bit more stressful by being left to the last minute. I booked the cab at about 845pm (after finishing my final presentation at uni), on the night before our flight. We had to be at the airport by 730am.

The flight was uneventful – but check out what we saw out the window from the plane.

Fuji from the plane

Fuji from the plane

It is a magnificent mountain!

It is a magnificent mountain!

As I said, there was much time traveling on this day. My bus mates decided that this was not a “field trip” but rather a “bus trip” – all in all we spent maybe 5 hours in the bus, in addition to the flying time. A big day.

After arriving at the Kagoshima airport we headed to some very uneventful places, which I will not bore you with. But eventually we found our way to the Izumi crane park. There is a few other greenies in our group so we were collectively looking forward to this. Cranes are after all one of the icons of Japan. Unfortunately it was a little disappointing, in that it was not quite the natural and wonderfully close scene that some of us had imagined for a crane park. But we did see the cranes – who came all the way from Siberia. Never know, maybe the cranes thought we were a bit disappointing too!

Izumi crane park - these guys migrate from Siberia (don't blame them really?!)

Izumi crane park – these guys migrate from Siberia (don’t blame them really?!)

Cranes in the distance

Cranes in the distance

The next port of call was a nuclear power plant – I will also avoid boring you with dull pictures. But all the time in the bus did allow me to finish another beanie. #3 now.

Oh, but at dinner that night, one of the students did partake in the fairy floss that was part of the all-you-can-eat buffet!

Even grown ups enjoy fairy floss - I though it was a brave move to take fairy floss in the company of ones potential future diplomatic contacts

Even grown ups enjoy fairy floss – I though it was a brave move to take fairy floss in the company of ones potential future diplomatic contacts

The next adventures

Shortly P and I will head off on our next adventures. But this time we are heading off separately. I have a school field trip which is compulsory, and so P is planning with some of our friends to head off on a ski trip.

I am bummed that I will not be able join the skiing trip, but I am sure there will be another opportunity before the winter is over in Japan.

I am headed to Kagoshima area which is the southern most point on Kyushu island. Tripping with 21 other students and 3 of the school faculty is not my idea of a good trip, but we will see some interesting things at least. The itinerary includes a peace museum at the location that many of the WWII kamikaze pilots were trained, an active volcano, hot sand baths, Edo period houses, nuclear and geothermal power plants as well as some Japanese gardens. The guy who designed the itinerary is mad keen on hot springs, and this area is a hot spring mecca in Japan – but he says that there is too many students in our class for him to take us to the nice small hot springs. So sand baths instead. It’s a part of Japan we would not have headed to ourselves so I suppose that is a benefit. But the drawback is that I am sure we will need to write a report about the trip – not so good.

The plan for P is to head to Niigata, which is one of the closest skiing areas to Tokyo. It will be a boys weekend, with 4 continents represented – Aust, Europe, Sth America and the Middle East. They haven’t finalised how they will get there as yet, but I am sure they’ll have a weekend of fun!

Our next together plan is to get ourselves to Hokkaido, where the winter is deep and snowy. We keep hearing that the snow in Hokkaido is amazing – so once we survive the next adventures (and get over this week of final exams and assignments), that is likely to be the next joint adventure.

Fuji-san and Kimono glory

I caught my first glimpse of Fuji-san yesterday. It was a clear winter morning, and the sun was shining in Tokyo. I was on the train headed to uni for an exam (on a public holiday no less!). And there just over the bay from home was the snow capped peak which is immortalised in the Japanese psyche and so much Japanese of their culture and pop icons. Here is the photo I captured – you’ll need to look closely at the horizon to see the icon.

Fuji-san - there in the distance between the buildings

Fuji-san – there in the distance between the buildings and above the cranes

It was a great start to the day. I bashed out a quick email to P, suggesting that we meet after the exam and head to one of the many observation decks in Tokyo to take advantage of the clear day. Not having wi-fi, I saved the email for sending once I arrived at school and was reconnected to the interweb world [it might be hard for some of you to believe, but I think I am even less technologically equipt in Tokyo than I was at home – I don’t even have a cell phone here!].

Exam survived, I agreed to meet P at the Tokyo World Trade Centre to head to the 40th floor observation deck. I’ll skip over the details, but lets just say that arranging to meet someone at a location which neither of you have ever visited, when you are both approaching from different train lines and will get off at different stations, is made much more challenging in the old-fashioned world without mobile phones! Regardless of the challenges, and near misses, we found each other.

Unfortunately, the skies had fogged over somewhat compared to the clear morning and Fuji was back in hiding. Despite this we enjoyed the view over Tokyo city, and some of its landmarks.

Tokyo tower - a major Tokyo landmark

Tokyo tower – a major Tokyo landmark

Then as a final hurrah to end a wonderous afternoon of Tokyo viewing, as we headed to the train station for home, I saw two young ladies all glammed up in the most beautiful Kimonos – it was Coming of Age day when all the young people turning 20 get glammed up and visit the Shrine to be welcomed into adulthood. I nudged P to get a photo for me, and he went one better. He asked the girls if it was okay to take their picture. They were more than happy and said I should stand with them, and then they handed over their phones to get a picture of us too. [I felt very under dressed for such glamorous Kimonos!]

Coming of age day glam!

Coming of age day glam!

Another moment of amazement in Japan.

A strange sea creature

In the bright sunshine of a clear winter’s day, they stopped and stared out at the azure sea.

The sun was glorious

The sun was glorious

Beyond the soft white sand, but inside the fringing coral; there was something bobbing in the water. It was moving, intermittently quickly and then slowly. Flipping from front to back, and changing direction.

What could it be, they asked each other?

Out there. What is it?

Out there. What is it?

They continued their walk to the water’s edge, their interest peaked by the creature. Once at the shore, they could see flashes of blue spread out under a floating web of netting …. Then it broke the surface and stopped, glistening in the bright winter’s sun.

Like the dark haired man already standing at the water’s edge, they brought out their cameras to capture the strange winter scene – there was a girl in the water, swimming!

Just me :)

Just me 🙂

This folks is the story of my swim in the East China Sea. A warm, and wind free day on the island of Taketomi in Okinawa province, I was the strange sight that had Japanese perplexed that day. The water was beautiful, clear and warm. But clearly I was a strange sight for the locals and other Japanese tourists who were enjoying a warm new year’s break. I was the only one in the water, despite some small children paddling and playing at the water’s edge. I had heard that the Japanese tend to follow the calendar as a guide to their activities, and this day was evidence.

I had the entire sea to myself. There was me, and just salty sea water as far as I could see. It was heaven. I swam a few laps, dabbled with some backstroke, dived under to refresh my skin and face … and felt wonderful. I thought to myself, why could school not be in Okinawa rather than chilly Tokyo? Paul stood guard on shore and took photos, along with the Japanese, until my activities led a Japanese family to strike up a conversation with him. I was an anomaly in them in the Japanese winter it seems.

I know that you have been sweltering in Oz but this was just a joyous brief break for P & I from chilly Tokyo.

Nago Pinapuru paku

English translation: Nago pineapple park

We joined a tour around Okinawa island which took us to the northern end of the island. On the tour we visited a scenic coastline viewing point, a major ocean park and aquarium, castle from the 1400s, and then the pineapple park.

Pineapple man

Pineapple man

As Okinawa enjoys a subtropical climate, it grows a number of the tropical fruits that we love to enjoy in summer. But the breaking news is…

Australia does not have a monopoly on BIG things.  The Nago Pineapple Park – which as you might expect from the name is pineapple farm and tourist attraction. Outside the park is a BIG pineapple – sorry Sunshine coast you have some competition!

Us with the BIG pineapple - Australia does not have a monopoly on big things.

Us with the BIG pineapple – Australia does not have a monopoly on big things.

We wandered through the production processing area, where there was several windows into the factory floor – but unfortunately for us there was little activity in the factory on that day. The Park also has a pineapple train, which takes people around the farm to show off the various stages of growth of the pineapples. Of course P, being (almost) from a pineapple growing area, knew how the growing process worked and was able to explain it to some of our fellow tourists even though we did not get to take a trip on the pineapple train.

Then came the Japanese tradition of ….. This is where they purchase local food products to take home to family and friends as gifts. This appears to be a booming industry for the pineapple park! Let me give you an overview of the offerings:
Pineapple wine, passionfruit wine, pineapple juice, shikawasha juice (a local citrus fruit which tastes like a cross between lemon and lime), pineapple cake of about 5 kinds, pineapple chocolates, dried tropical fruit, pineapple biscuits, sweet potato pie, pineapple pie, pineapple beauty products, who-cho, sake, the local fire water …. and last but not least tinned pineapple.

There was also ice cream flavoured with some of the tropical fruit grown on the island – mango, pineapple, passionfruit, shikawasha etc.

It was a major spending spree for many of the Japanese on the tour but as we have minimal luggage with us, we refrained from participating – other than the pineapple and mango ice cream!

It was a great end to the tour of the northern part of the island. Well  worth a visit in the warmer months of the growing season.

P with friends and pineapple ice cream

P with friends and pineapple ice cream

Yoi otoshi o

In Japan, Christianity is not a dominant belief, and so Christmas is not recognised as a national holiday. For the Japanese people, Oshogatsu- the celebration of the New Year – is the significant event at this time.

So while Tokyo is dressed in its finest lights, and the stores are all full of sales, and the most beautifully wrapped gifts – it is not majorityivly motivated by Christmas, but by preparations for the upcoming New Year.

The area where we live is a playground for Tokyites – it has several big shopping centres, with outlet stores that are not found elsewhere in Tokyo, and a wide range of eating options ranging from food courts to themed restaurants and even a museum dedicated to a Japanese delicacy the Takoyaki. Over the last five weekends there has been a fireworks display every Saturday night – each time a different light display running for about 10minutes. All this, and not even for a single special event – just a taste of the celebratory atmosphere here in Tokyo in the final lead up to the new year.

A truly rainbow bridge

A truly rainbow bridge

Firework Christmas tree?

Firework Christmas tree?

Sparkley patterns

Sparkley patterns

So pretty

So pretty – it almost makes winter worth it. Almost!

A key event for the Japanese people is Hatsumode – the first visit to the Shrine of the new year. But the lead up to the new year is a busy time, as is the lead up to Christmas in many other countries, with many parties and events to end the current year and put its activities behind us, and preparations for the coming year. It is also a big time for families to gather, something that is familiar for me from my own country.

As part of the separation between the ending year and the coming new year, the Japanese also have two sayings to wish others well at this time:-
Yoi otoshi o – is used in December, to wish others a good new year, and
Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu – is used in January, to wish others a happy new year.

Now that i have explained this,
Yoi otoshi o to all my friends and readers.

Yoi Otoshi o from us in Tokyo

Yoi otoshi o from us in Tokyo

Takao-san

Last weekend, we made a trip to outer Tokyo for a walk in the hills with some friends. Its still in greater Tokyo, but quite removed from the city centre. we took the train out here …

Mt Takao

Mt Takao

P and I were accompanied by 5 other happy adventurers for the day. Here we all are at the start of our wanderings around Mt Takao, or Takao-san as the locals call it.

Our adventurers (part 1)

Our adventurers (part 1)


Our adventurers part 2

Our adventurers part 2

The train took us almost to the very base of the mountain, where we had the choice of how to start our journey to the top; there was several walking trails, a cable car or a chair lift. The combination of inappropriate footwear for some of our group, and the fun idea of a chair lift won out in the end .. and we all jumped on a well serviced and staffed 12 minute chair lift ride. This is the view on the way up 🙂 It was such a fun ride.

A long way down

A long way down

Not even at the top of Mt Takao yet, but at the top of the chair lift, we could see all the way back to Tokyo city (and its dominant landmarks – Skytree and Tokyo tower – and to Yokahama in the south.

We could see all the way to Tokyo and Yokohama

We could see all the way to Tokyo and Yokohama

It was a little late for the best of the fall colours, these were really at their peak in the first week of December. But there was still some amazing colours around, at least where not all the leaves had yet fallen off the trees.

There were still some patches of fall colour on the trees

There were still some patches of fall colour on the trees

We reached to top of Mt Takao, it was not a taxing walk at all from the top of the chair lift. Although there was quite a few stairs on the way up, particularly as we passed through the shrines. It is amazing that there are several shrines on the mountain, as well as numerous souvenir and food outlets to satisfy all the day trippers (and there was lots of them, even though it was the start of winter and it was not very warm on that particularly day).

Can you see the Buddahs?

Can you see the Buddahs?

Temple entrance with incense burning alter

Temple entrance with incense burning alter

Golden Statue

Golden Statue

From the top of Mount Takao, we could see all the way to the central mountain range of Japan, including Mount Fuji. It was a relatively clear day, but unfortunately non of us were quite able to spot Mount Fuji through the low cloud cover. But we could definitely see the other mountains in the range. It was an amazing sight, and a real sense of how mountainous Japan’s landmass is.

Fuji-san is out there somewhere ....

Fuji-san is out there somewhere ….

One of the really notable things, was that the top of the mountain was a blanket of families and friends with picnic blankets spread out for lunchtime. They had planned ahead more than our gouup, and had packed all kinds of amazing food and drinks with them. Enviously we headed toward some of the eateries at the top to see what we could find for sustenance and to warm up a little. But even knowing how inflated prices are at such tourist spots, we were bedazzled by the prices, and decided to hold our hunger and try our luck at the base of the mountain. All power to the good planning of the Japanese, their picnics looked lovely. And even though they were essentially sitting in a dust bowl as people continually walked past their picnic blankets, they happily munched away on their pre-packed delicacies. I even saw that some groups had carried beer with them to the top of the mountain – keen!

While the view from the chair lift was spectacular, maybe next time we can take to the trails and walk our way to the top.

The view from the chair lift on the way down

The view from the chair lift on the way down

River of red leaves

River of red leaves

Japan V poses were all round us so we joined in

Japan V poses were all round us so we joined in