Sunday, August 24, 2014


Japan is exhausting!  at the end of the day yesterday I collapsed onto the couch in pile of tiredness.
we had a plethora of adventures this week to say goodbye to summer.
swimming, some back to school shopping, adventurous eating, and a whole lot of hiking and climbing!

Yesterday we visited the Mt. Mitake Shrine.  It's way up in the mountains so high and steep that the best way up is via cable car.

You get up to the top and there's an entire small town.  It was pretty crazy.  there are houses- and what looked like a school- and normal people living their lives on a beautiful mount side full of tourists there to visit the 2000 yer old shrine.

From the cable car exit- it's a decent hike STRAIGHT up the mountain!  really- some spots were so so steep.  and we must have climbed hundreds of stairs.  I was so impressed with the elderly Japanese making the trek up. It wasn't terribly long- but it wasn't all that easy, either!  Especially with a toddler on kent's back, me at 33 weeks preggo, and two whiny rugrats slowing us down!! It took just over an hour for us with our frequent stops for short little weary legs.
there are little shops and whatnot along the way where we could stop and let zeb and Ike rest their legs.  Zeb said his legs had NEVER been so tired.  sometimes he gets rather dramatic.
Ike is an avid rock hoarder and filled his pockets all day long.  He also never looked at the camera.

somehow I missed getting a picture of the final ascent staircase with HUNDREDS of stairs.  I think I was too focused on getting UP them. Here's one pic I snapped of a gargoyle peaking out as a guard. 

The Shrine at the top was worth the effort.  It was pretty amazing.  and said to be one of the most spiritual spots in this region of Japan!

on the shrine grounds- there are several other smaller shrines.
  they are each guarded by a different animal.

all of the Japanese loved metta in her little backpack carrier!  she waved and said hello to everybody.  she really is a hit with her red hair and constant smile.  I was reprimanded by one older gentleman for hiking while pregnant.  At least that's what I thought it was all about.  He pointed to my abdomen several times with a look of concern and jabbered something that sounded worried!

I loved this dragon painting.  

it was a really hot day- 90+ degrees with humidity- but up in the mountains was MUCH cooler.  it was still plenty humid and we were drenched in sweat by the end of our hikes.

these pictures don't even come close to portraying the incline of these hills!  it was really really steep a lot of the way!

 after our trek up to the shrine- we decided to make the day super authentic and eat the traditional Japanese mountainside food.   I think if I liked fish- this fish on a stick would be a favorite of mine.  Too bad I don't love fish.
 this treat actually looked really good to us!  Even Zeb wanted to try it.  we still aren't sure what it is.
and it was NOTHING like we expected.  It was salty and savory.  Chewy and rough on the cooked edges- and stretchy and mushy on the inside.  that's a terrible explanation- but it's like NOTHING I've ever tasted.

Kent was a good sport with the fish on a stick and ate it almost entirely.  he did pick out what looked to be a liver and a heart. 

I tasted it.  and that was enough for me.
 Metta was totally grossed out.
 Besides visiting the shrine- we did some other hiking and adventuring on the mountain.
 you can't see much in the pictures because of the hazy humidity- but tokyo is off in the distance!  the area reminded us a lot of the great smoky mountains in Tennessee.

there is an area with several really large old trees that are also spiritually significant to the Japanese.  they tie these prayers/messages around them.

 we even had a little ski life ride up a mountainside.  there weren't any rails and the seats were single- so I held metta while Kent took Ike and Zeb went all by himself!

By late afternoon I was STARVING for real food and we were all hot and sweaty so we stopped off at the Ome river to get a bit wet and grab a snack.

the water felt great,

 but the food did not satisfy.  One thing I can't really get the hang of is HOT food and soup in the SWELTERING summer.  We ordered some soba noodles (like ramen) and this lovely dish.  I seriously couldn't put it in my mouth.  It was so unappetizing to me.  kent ate it to make me feel better that we spent money on it :)  It was warm semi gelatinous fermented soybean paste traingles with sauce.

 I had some noodles- but was too hot to be enjoying steamy noodles and broth.  at this point I just wanted cold water and something refreshing!  I was so glad to be headed home to a fridge stocked with  food from an American grocery store!  I am so grateful for the benefit of living on base!  we get the best of both worlds!! I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as soon as we got home!

Overall it was definitely an adventurous day trip and I really want to go back in the fall!!  It is supposed to be gorgeous!!  I love being here and having these adventures.  I also LOVE that kent finally lives a life where a weekend is a BREAK from work!!   It's so weird to me that we wake up on saturday and sunday mornings and always have him home!!!

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