mountains

Simple materials create rustic shrine in the mountains

shrine_bell_rope_izu
階段の上に、簡素な材料で作られた神社は祈る場所を提供してくれます。

At the top of the stairs stands a simple shrine in Izu.

Fragrant Angel’s Trumpet flowers remind me of San Francisco

エンジェル・トランペットはサンフランシスコを思い出させます。特に夜、香りがいいです。この植物はもともと南アメリカのアンデズという山から来ました。

Angel’s Trumpet, or brugmansia, reminds me of San Francisco. Its big flowers are particularly fragrant at night. Originally from the Andes mountains of South America, in Tokyo this wonderful bush dies back in the winter and re-sprouts every April.

Train bento: A Japanese treat, with organic rice

Last weekend I went to Suwa in Nagano with Kobayashi sensei of Sinajina for the famous, once every six years onbashira festival.

Over two months, the residents of Suwa select enormous trees growing on top of the mountain ridge, cut them and transport them down the hills by dragging them with rope, race down a hill sitting on the logs, and eventually lift them up at several important shrines (while people stand on top of them, I guess, to make it more difficult, heavy and dangerous).

Onbashira is a very pleasant mix of animism, forestry and virility. More on the ceremony later.

But, first, the first joy of taking any trip in Japan is buying a bento at the station. There is an incredible variety, priced from about 500 yen to 1,500 yen. Each comes beautifully wrapped in a box, with fantastic graphic design. You can see some cool typography, artistic mountains and trains, a space shuttle, a pokemon, and cherry blossoms.

I chose the spring special, decorated with sakura petals. Inside I was delighted to find over twenty different foods, including takenoko (bamboo shoots).

Even more remarkable, my box came with a photo and description of the organic rice farmers.

And lastly here’s the purple-striped beauty that got us to the Suwa lake in just two hours from Shinjuku.