From the Valley to the Mountain

I left the house a little after 8 and went to Umeda to pick up my camera. Once again, I arrived an hour before the shop opened, so I wandered around and tried to learn how to navigate the area better. I walked to the end of the underground sidewalk and then tried to find my way to the camera shop above ground. I was able to find it without much problem, so I sat on some steps and read for a while until it opened. When the time came, my camera was ready to pick up. I think the man told me that they had to replace the lens. All I knew was that it worked again and that they charged me the price they had quoted the previous week. I took the train to church and still arrived a little early. Kira, the American student, gave the communion message and one of the Japanese brothers gave the main message. After the main service, the kids came down from their classes and sang a few songs for the fathers, since it was Father’s Day. Each child had made a craft with a picture of themselves, along with their father, in it. One of the sisters who had taught the kid’s class had made one with just my picture in it. I thanked her, and joked that I could add my kids’ pictures to it when they come. I left soon after the service was completed because I had an agenda planned for the afternoon.

I had decided to go into the mountains again, but this time further away, to Nose (No-seh, not like on your face), at the end of the train line into the mountains. I had seen on a map where they ran a cable car to the top of Myokenzan Mountain and had confirmed this fact on the internet, although none of the Japanese people I had mentioned it to had actually been there. I took the train for two stations past my usual stop and switched to the Nose line. I began to realize how far off the beaten path I was getting when the trains at this station started displaying their destination exclusively in kanji, as did the fare chart for the tickets. No problem, I knew enough kanji at this point to get by. I had switched trains at Kawanishi Station (“western river”, a picture of a river followed by the symbol for “west”) and had to switch again at Yamashita (“bottom of the mountain”, a picture of a mountain and the symbol for “bottom”) to get to Myokenzan Station (“marvelous view”, a little more complicated).

By the time I made it to Nose, I was very hungry. I had left church around 1:30, it was now 3. I decided to eat at a restaurant near the train station, as there was no guarantee I would find another closer to the mountain. The restaurant was pleasant and had a small town diner-like atmosphere. The menu, of course, was entirely in Japanese. The menu was divided into udon dishes and those that were served over rice (don), I had learned that kanji from my lunches at the university. What I didn’t know the kanji for, however, were most of the things being put on the noodles or the rice. The only dish I was completely sure about was curry udon, which sounded just fine. I ate my udon and walked to the bus stop just in time to catch the next bus from the station. The internet said I had to take the “Cable-mae” Bus. This was not difficult, since it seemed to be the only bus leaving from the station. The bus drove for 15 minutes or so and dropped me off in front of the cable cars. It had passed many rice fields, and fewer and fewer houses on the way as the bus had headed further into the country.

I bought a cable car ticket for 270 yen and waited until the next one left, at 4 pm. This slowly climbed its tracks, and eventually deposited me at on the side of the mountain, where there was a path heading further up the slope. After walking for a while, I came to a chair lift. I had noted that 6 pm was the final cable car back down, but I wasn’t sure how far I still was from the summit. For 250 more yen, I rode the chair lift further up the mountain. At the top of the lift was a small shrine, as well as a path that continued to climb. After another 20 minutes of walking, I came to a stone gateway that led to an array of statues, sculptures, temples, and shrines. The entire top of Myokenzan Mountain seemed to be one big shrine! I climbed the steps which led amidst the stone figures until I finally reached the summit. On the summit stood a very modern looking temple made of steel and glass, which stood in stark contrast to the ancient statues which were scattered everywhere. The mountain did live up to its name, however, it had a marvelous view of the valley below- I could see Osaka filling the valley in the distance.

I had noticed once I reached the top of the mountain that there was the option of walking back down it, by passing both the chair lift and the cable car. Walking down the entire mountain made a lot more sense that walking up, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take or where the foot trail ended exactly, so I opted for going down the slope the same way I had gone up. However, when I arrived at the bus stop at 5:20, I saw that there wasn’t another bus for an hour! I decided that I would walk back to the station, and hoped I had paid sufficient attention on the way to the cable car to retrace the bus route back. I ended up finding the station without any problems, and was on the train home by 6:20. At home, I ate the bento that had been prepared for me on Friday, and then went to work on the final weekend chore that I had to accomplish- whacking the yard! It is a good thing that I did, for later that evening it started to rain. At least the weather had cooperated for my mountain top adventure!

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