I’ve been in Japan two weeks. I spent almost a week sick in Yokohama. At least I got to watch the opening ceremony in London!
My route has been: Tokyo –>; Yokohama –>; Kamakura –>; Odawara –>; Hakone –>; Ito –>; Futo
I walked all over Tokyo, browsed China town and busy streets in Yokohama, went through some temples in Kamakura, visited a nice shrine in Odawara, rode trains, cable cars and ropeways up the mountains around Hakone, and explored the Jogasaki coast and rode a cable car to the top of the volcanic Mt. Omuro.
Izu and the Jogasaki Coast
Two days ago I explored Hakone and came south, down the east coast of the Izu Peninsula to Ito city. I stayed in a hostel inside an old wooden building and met a group of Americans going to visit a friend, and an Austrian man who recommended the Jogasaki Coast. I had no idea what was there. He said, “There’s a lighthouse. It’s nice.” I rode the train along the coast south to Futo and was greeted by a spectacular view of Oshima Island in the distant sea. I walked among the houses down to the coast. I was stunned by the view. The shore is made of huge rocks where there is beach (if you can call big rocks a beach), and where the isn’t beach sheer cliffs of black rock jut out into the sea where they are pounded by waves. In the distant past, nearby Mt. Omuro erupted and sent lava down toward the sea, which formed the Izu Kogen (Izu Highland) and the cliffs at Jogasaki. I climbed along the rocks until I got to a small harbor where boats were moored and dozens of divers were milling about, wearing wetsuits and fiddling with oxygen tanks. Families were out enjoying the ocean scenery, and a sightseeing boat came in to dock. I kept on and came to a cove where the waves broke spectacularly along the sharp rocks. Sometimes the waves were calm and rolled in and out without much fuss, and sometimes they swelled to frightening heights and blasted up over the rocks. I watched the waves come in and out.
A suspension bridge connected two bluffs. It was full of tourists. I crossed and climbed a lighthouse, from which I could see Oshima in the ocean, the Jogasaki Coast stretching away on both sides, and Mt. Omuro behind on the peninsula. I made up my mind to go to Omuro and took a bus up into the highlands. I rode a little cable car up Mt. Omuro. I’d never seen anything like that mountain, except maybe Mt. Aso in Kyushu that I couldn’t climb because of the poisonous gases in the crater. Mt. Omuro is a treeless dome covered in swaying green grass with a volcanic crater (inactive, I think) in the center, in which people practice archery. From a distance, the slope looks quite gentle, and Mt. Omuro is nicknamed “the breast of Izu.” However, the slope is severe, so it takes a cable car to get to the top. An unbelievable panorama awaited above. Down on the coast I could see the tiny lighthouse, and Oshima in the sea. I could see the peninsula south of Kamakura, and the Manazuru Peninsula closer to Izu. The land quickly turned to mountains behind the cities on the coast. Behind the mountains, standing a head taller than the rest and stuck in the clouds, was Mt. Fuji. That Mt. Fuji is so much taller than the surrounding mountains, I had never realized. Unfolded before me was the real world I had been studying on maps for the last two weeks. I thought, So, Japan looks like this.
Takaha Shugyo haiku
On a sign on the mountaintop were several haiku about Mt. Omuro by Takaha Shugyo. One was inscribed in stone. (Please excuse my translation.)
where the sun drips
– Takaha Shugyo (1930- )
The other two poems are below. (With pitiful translations. I have no idea what to call 草いきれ in English.)
Taller than I am
Vast green and
Soon to be pierced
– Takaha Shugyo (1930- )
Back in Ito city, there were fireworks.