Jun 30, 2013

Mountain Climbing, Fireworks, and 1,000 Rice Fields

It was a Friday when I came home exhausted from work and plunged right into bed. Just when I began to doze off, a friend texted that we should go climb a mountain. Right now. A few minutes later there was a knock on my door and three of us ALTs headed off for Joyama.

You can drive up Joyama on a narrow, twisting road until you reach a plateau. There we parked, and began to climb. We ventured down extremely steep wooden steps built into the mountainside, wandered through fields of Queen Anne's Lace, and beheld the Nanao caste ruins, washed away by time and marked only by a single torii gate.

At the very top of the mountain is a tower you can climb up for spectacular views. You can see all of Nanao below hugging the coast, surrounded by the misty mountain ridges. It was spectacular.

Each of the seven mountain ridges are named on the sides of the tower. The two pictured are "turtle tail" and "dragon tail."

That same weekend we traveled to the nearby city of Wajima. They were having a "We Appreciate Our Citizens Day" with festival food and more than five hundred fireworks. Some of the fireworks looked like golden rain that covered the entire night sky. We watched from the edge of the sea, so they seemed to dazzle right above us. You know how in America we usually end by exploding a ton of fireworks all at once? That's what this fireworks show was the whole way through.

Before the festivities began, we explored 千米田 senmaida - 1,000 rice fields. This is a ridge that descends into the sea with small rice fields tiered on top of each other. I had heard about them before, but hadn't thought they would be anything special to see. I was surprised when the view took my breath away - looking over the fields of green paddies and wild daises that descended towards the sea with the mountains just behind… it was one of the most beautiful spots I've seen in Japan to date.

The next day was "Marine Day" in Nanao. For a fee you could ride in sailboats, skidoos, or kayaks around the bay. I went alone and couldn't communicate well, so I decided not to go on any of the boats. It was a beautiful day for it though, and I captured this photo of a sailboat as it came in to dock.


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