GETTIN’ MY GOAT

NOVEMBER 2007

#73 – KAIMON-DAKE

The cigarette paper thin veneer of calm so carefully cultivated since my capitulation below Kasa-ga-take finally cracked, crumbled, turned to dust at my feet and blew away in a strengthening gale whipping in off the Pacific.

Who had I been fooling? I was miserable. Kaimon-dake, a perfect volcanic cone, a beachside, bonsai Fuji-san, topping out at a mere 924 metres should have been my…my…my what? My moment, my thing, the thing just before you finish something big… My moment of triumph before my moment of triumph.  There.  How about that? It was the time I was supposed to be looking back over all the trials and tribulations that had gone before.  Mountain 73 should have been Mountain 99. A simple day trip out of my new home away from home, Kagoshima City.  An outing to the southern tip of Kyushu where I could bask in imminent glory and maybe even some hot, black beach sand as well. Instead, yet again, I was basting in misery and self loathing, and this time, just for some variety, whilst ogling a pack of fat arsed goats standing on rocks, my train ride back to Kagoshima rattling away from me, into the distance, at a tauntingly, leisurely pace, having trundled over the level crossing just down the road from the goat pen.

It should have meant nothing. Another train would be along eventually. But I knew eventually out there in the boonies was quite different to an eventually in more civilised parts.  It was that little bit of fate doling out one last ‘Fuck you,’ before I returned to Osaka and life off the road and well, I guess, it proved to be one jab too many. A ‘Fuck you’ that smacked of just not good enough, just not organised enough, just not committed enough to get things done. And maybe, I concluded, I just fucking wasn’t.

“Bastards!” I hollered at the fading clackety-clack of the train, or the Gods, or the trees, or the goats as I stared down the empty strip of road running from the forested base of Kaimon, across the level crossing and out into the patchwork of fields spreading northward away from the mountain. The goats politely held their sniggers. The wind tousled the tree tops. There in the shadow of Kaimon-dake, Fukada’s symbol of hope and joy, frustration and despondency reigned.

kaimon lr (6 of 9)

So much for the fine little climb up Kaimon; a somewhat rocky endeavour that wrapped itself around the mountain’s flanks before popping out at the top. From the trail, through the trees, veneer, at that point, still holding up well, I watched the sea turn gold as the rising sun burst through an early morning cloud bank. Higher up the views widened as the vegetation clinging to the mountain’s narrowing turret became scrubby waist high shrubbery. Amongst the tangles of branches on the summit, a shrine nestled, nearly swallowed by the scrub. I snuggled down in an open area in the rocks just beyond it and watched fluffy white clouds float across the face of the sun and gazed out over hazy farmland and seaside vistas.

From mountain high I descended into my morale mangled low. Cursing the goats farewell for no reason in particular and dawdled back to the station. I sat there seething, beneath a tin roof on sticks. Teeth gnashing. The train schedule I should have checked before commencing my climb informed me I had a good three hours to cuss away if I cared to do so. I sat grimly on the hard seat, hollow, lost. The pluck and daring of the Hundred Mountain Man, all but banished to the winds.

kaimon lr (8 of 9)

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