#039 – RYUMON-ZAN
So here’s the one about a monstrous spider that used to live on the mountain formerly known as Takahata-yama. Way back when, this thing used to creep down through the woods and into the villages at the foot of the mountain and devour locals at an alarming rate. The hierarchy of the district sent an official request to the Emperor to aid them in ridding this creature from their lives. Troops were dispatched and upon their arrival, the leader of the fighting force asked the villagers if there were any shrines at the foot of the mountain they could point him to. He was led to a shrine dedicated to a nine headed dragon. There, he paid his respects and prayed for the power to defeat the marauding arachnid lurking on the heights of Takahata-yama. Late on his third day of prayers the skies darkened over the sprawling peak and a raging electrical storm descended over the mountain. A lightning bolt blasted a hole in a rock near the summit from which torrents of water flowed and mixing with the storm’s watery payload flooded the villages nestled below. In addition to the torrent spweing from the fractured rock the nine headed dragon itself emerged and took to Takahata’s heights, seeking out and engaging the spider in a fierce battle. In the end the dragon prevailed and, exhausted, made its way down to the flooded shrine at the foot of the mountain. Their days of terror at an end, and with calm restored to the district, the villagers rebuilt the shrine and renamed the mountain Ryumon-zan. Dragon’s gate.
Enough with the tales of dragons and spiders. We were their to merely tackle the mountain and in doing so, inadvertently open our 2015 tozan account with a hat trick of Fujis. Out of the station Ryumon-zan, or Kishu-fuji (Kishu being the old name for the Wakayama district) looked like a monster. The flat-topped seven hundred metre beast appearing to be double that measure from where we stood. We taxied to the trailhead halfway up, via a snaking slither of blactop through groves of citrus, blossoming plum and still dormant persimmon. A morning trudge on tarmac just wasn’t in us. We’d walk back all the way we promised ourselves and make up a little for our laziness.
Late winter/early spring pollens hit The Missus hard. Her nose ran more than the springs on Ryumon. Beyond the orchards the obligatory cultivated cedar forests cloaking the mountain loosed their polleny payloads on the back of a chilly wind. Struggling up onto the broad summit ridge we left the dark plantations behind and strode a wintry brown woodland bathed in sunshine. There was a magnetic rock up there that sends compasses out of whack and we realised we’d forgotten to pack one to test it out. I told The Missus about the hill at home that pulls cars set in neutral up it but she was too busy fishing out another tissue from her jacket pocket to pay my ramblings much mind. Responding to my story with a good old snot laced honk of appreciation.
We had Ryumon to ourselves. Huddling in the lee of a prickly thicket on the sunny summit we fed our faces and soaked up as much warmth as we could. On the way down we clambered onto boulders poking out of the woods and took in the views down across the broad valley nursing the wide Kinokawa River. With the plan to knock off thirty mountains on our hitlist that year and ten percent of that knocked off in a dozen days things were looking pretty good on the KINKAN 100 front.