MARCH 2014


Circling the cylindrical, concrete observation tower, we sought sunlight out of the early spring wind.  Old men had taken up their own positions in the warmth, sunning themselves like leathery old lizards at the base of the tower.  A couple of gas cookers hissed, murmur was kept to a minimum.  A vehicle cruised the mountain driveway beneath us, unseen thanks to the long dry grass and brown thicket providing partition.

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Haze paled the cloudless heavens.  The mountains to the south appeared as two dimensional, blue cutouts.  I slipped into my jacket, not in a mood to resist the chilly breeze.  The Missus handed us our lunches and we devoured our offerings without saying much.  A month after our last venture into the mountains of Southern Osaka, when snow had smothered the high ground in a soft, powdery blanket, the surrounds had returned to their more usual shades of brown – the dwindling stand of beech on the mountain remaining leafless in sympathy.

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There were dirt bikers up there.  They’d annexed a section of car-park amongst the trees.  I guessed it was a Sunday club meet of sorts.  The Kid was delighted.  After returning from the highpoint beneath an NTT pylon, we watched the bikers set out on a trail ride, leaping onto the road before us and fanging off into the woods.

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The afternoon was consumed by a long road walk through more plantation timber.  At a roadside vegetable stall, a drunk man in a pink shirt beneath a silver grey blazer quizzed me upon my nationality and then mumbled mumbo jumbo in reply to my answer.  A small brigade of firemen lounged and shot the breeze around a couple of inadequate looking red vehicles.  Road bikers milled.

Dodging the road bikers, careening at us full pelt, and negotiating a small tunnel we eventually descended to the sanctuary at Inunaki-yama.  The second to last bus of the day, gunning its engine deprived us of any hope of a hard earned ice cream break and we climbed aboard and passed out exhausted.

Somehow we ended up back in Kyoto that evening, but I’m not so sure exactly how it came to pass.

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