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Kenrokuen Gardens

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa

Practising the shamisen

Lion mask

Tea room

With our hostess in Shirakawago

Farmhouse in Shirakawago


Ready for the local baths

Simon and Lisa at Kappabashi bridge

Climbing Yarigatake

 Bob silhouette

Simon and Lisa

Sessho Hut from Yari

Top of the world

Looking towards Mount Fuji


The Mountains of Central Japan Tour - September 2009


Reading through the many haiku written on the tour brings it all back. The muse inspired Lisa and Simon at some point and they couldn't stop writing poems. It was a tailor-made, one-week version of the full two-week MCJ.


We kept one eye on typhoons that were threatening landfall in Japan but the weather was generally excellent. We had one wet hiking day out of four in the Alps. Not bad.


The endless rain falls
As we trudge the mountain ridge
Cold, wet, on my way home


And there's always something to look forward to.


Tired aching limbs
Welcome relief from onsen
Heat soaks through my bones


Matsumoto heat
Was it only yesterday
We froze on the peak?


Food was, as ever, as big an adventure as the walking.


Eating bee larvae
Faint sense of honeyed crunch
Who will staff the hive?


Beer nuts for Bobby
Bananas for the monkeys
Grilled meat for the Aussies


Next round's on me
Earned from hot work on grill
Yamada Nobuo


They go on and on. Read more haiku here .


We had some interesting encounters during the tour, including one with a small bat that was flying backwards.


A breathless bat pants
Forced backward by the cruel wind
Drops from exhaustion


The poor little thing was being pushed backwards as it hovered over the Azusa River in the upper Kamikochi Valley. The path we were on was raised at that point and Simon was able to reach out and offer the bat a landing strip. After the bat had enjoyed a rest (we assumed it must have been exhausted), Simon carefully placed it behind a sheltered rock on a bank beside the path. There's a picture of it with the others of the tour on this site.


Lisa proved a dab hand at playing the shamisen.


Afternoon of sights
Gold leaf on black sesame
Shamisen playing


This was the first time we'd come across the shamisen maker in old Kanazawa. Our guide Sho-san introduced us to it and we spent a happy hour or so plucking away. We were almost able to play Sakura Sakura . The ‘gold leaf on black sesame', by the way, refers to a sesame ice cream cone adorned with real gold leaf.


Sho-san, our trusty guide, had, apparently, lived in Australia. In a small town called Donald, he thinks. This, too, inspired a haiku.


Could it really be
Mr Sho Nakamura
Lived in Donald?



One person we didn't meet was old grandma. A sign told us a 73 woman had been missing in the North Alps for some time. We kept our eyes peeled but didn't see her climbing ladders to the peak. We hoped she might be living happily somewhere out there.


We did see one man, on the train back to Tokyo, but didn't' get to speak to him.


Man with face mask lies
Sprawled, passed out in his train seat
Hope he's still breathing


Lucky Simon and Lisa joined another tour here immediately this one ended!


Click to read haiku poems from this tour.

 Simon picking blueberries    Simon Lisa and Koike san

Hard rain on the Omote Ginza trail     Walking the North Alps

Composing haiku poems on the train to Shinjuku    The traditional travelling on the modern

Pruning in Kenrokuen Gardens

Sweeping riverbed in Kenrokuen Gardens

Gold leaf on black sesame ice cream

Speak up mate!

With our kind guide Sho san

Simon and Lisa

Posing in the garden

A group of kids on Haku san

Start of four day hike

Breathless bat

Sky high in Japan

Bob in orange

In front of Yari Peak

Jonen Peak from Yari

Lisa on a ladder

Toilet wall covered in gold leaf


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