Saturday, May 3, 2008

Picnic in the Clouds

Hachiman Yama is a magical place. All of the fun and exciting things center on the shrine that sits at the base of the mountain. The area is an old fashioned and quaint area that has a classic look to them. The canal that travels around the mountain from Lake Biwa comes near the shrine. The canal is one of the most picturesque areas in town. In fact it is one of the most authentically historical looking in Japan. Film companies will use this area when filming samurai dramas to achieve the appropriate look and feel. We even managed to recognize our own Hachiman Canal one time as we were watching a movie we rented from Tsutaya. We have also made sure to take a photo of the canal from the same bridge for each season.

We knew that the spring photo would have to be one taken during the height of cherry blossom season. Logan also had a real strong desire to ride the cable car to the top of the mountain. We decided that we would have a nice Sunday afternoon picnic at the top of the mountain. We walked from our home to the mountain stopping at the grocery store to pick up some food to eat.

We bought our tickets and hopped on the cable car ready to ride the ropeway to the top of the mountain. The ride to the top takes about five minutes or so and affords a fine view of the whole city. We looked out on the city as we gently swayed in the soft breeze and rode to the top of the mountain. We could hear the sounds of the city, which in today's case happened to be the sound of giant taiko drums beating all around the city.

Once at the top of the mountain we wandered to the backside of the mountain. The area at the back of the mountain is the viewing area. It is a wide swath of ground that looks out over the majestic Lake Biwa. On a clear day it is almost possible to see all the way to Kyoto, but this day the weather was hazy and we had trouble seeing the other side of the narrow lake.

We found a nice spot in the warm sun and laid out our tarp to eat our picnic. We were not the only group who had the same idea. There were about four other groups of picnickers scattered around the observation area. The weather was perfect for enjoying an outdoor lunch. A cool breeze blew through the air but the sun was out and it's rays on our skin kept our skin warm. We ate our lunch there at the top of the mountain. We had stopped to purchase various sandwiches, doughnut holes, drinks and even a slice of tuna, sweet corn and mayo pizza; yum yum.

After eating our lunch we walked back around the crest of the mountain and up to the temple at the top. The temple is a beautiful temple that sits at the very zenith of the mountain. We did not go in and look at all the statuary and regalia. Instead we played our favorite mountain top game of “hey can we see our house from here?” Well I am happy to report that with the help of the 12x zoom lens on our camera we did manage to see our apartment from the top of the mountain. To be honest we had to wait until we got the photos loaded up on the computer at home to see, but we very obviously have a picture of our home taken from the top of the mountain. We talked about all the things we have seen and things that we would see. We listened to the drums beat in the distance and wondered what the pounding was for.

Strange noises are a part of our lives here as I have mentioned before. This time it was the loud beat of the taiko drums that had us wondering what was happening in our little town. Little did we know that we would be finding out later in the evening...

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