in the middle of one of the worlds largest cities, we dont get to go out in the
nature that much. Luckily, Nakazato-san (picture to the right) at the Attaché-office
enjoys hiking and fishing a lot and we ask her if we couldnt go hiking or something.
She didnt hesitate and quickly brought a few friends together for a trip to the
Chichibu-tama National Park. Brian from Ireland , a friend of a friend, had been in these areas before and
we quickly adopted him as guide for this hike. We all met at Ikebukoro Train Station on
the morning of Oct. 6th to take the train to somewhere. This National Park is the one
closest to Tokyo and it is approximately twice as big as the city of Tokyo (with suburbs included). It took us
an hour and a half to get where we wanted, and by this time Per and I had no idea where we
were and we where quite happy with that situation. To be able to remember where we
actually went though, we took a picture of a sign at the train station when we arrived.
We found a map (see picture to the left) and chose one route that would take us about four hours, and then we set off. This map was actually the only map we had. In the beginning we walked on a normal road along some houses. There were a lot of chestnuts trees, and Per can verify that the chestnuts taste better after their unfriendly cover has been removed. Our trail soon led into the woods where we walked in silence for a while. The mountain we where climbing was 700 m high and I don't know at what height we started off. It's probably more appropriate to say that we where walking rather than climbing, but I did have to take off my sweater in order not to get too warm.
It was great to be walking in the middle of a forest again. The trees in this forest as on many other places in Japan are very high with leaves or "barr" (don´t know the english word - please tell me) only at the top. This makes the forest quite mysteries, close to a Swedish "bokskog", except that a "bokskog" doesnt grow on hillsides in Sweden. After half an hour or so we came to a flat area where there were a few houses. Here we met some other hikers having their lunch, but we only took a short brake. The view was great from here, and we also found some flowers and fruit that we wanted to photograph with the macro-function on our camera. The pictures turned out very well (even though our digital camera is not known for creating the best quality pictures) so we had to let you see them.
We started walking again after a short brake, and we soon started going downhill. We were supposed to come to a lake, where we had planned to have lunch. Just when we where getting really hungry, the lake appeared. It was very small, and not one of those where you cant stop yourself from jumping into the water to have a swim. (The water didn't look too good). But it was all very beautiful, and a lot of people were fishing and having a nice time by the shore. We found a suitable place where sat down and ate our lunch.
After a long while we finally found out that there was no bus. But there was a train! Not the same line we took from Tokyo, but a train that did go to Tokyo. It was now around four oclock in the afternoon, and we started to walk along one road towards the station in the direction we were told. We were now in a small town or community and there where several roads to choose from. After a kilometer or so we decided to ask someone if we where really on the right way. This someone turned out to be a real angel. He sad he could drive us to the train station. Wow! Finally, we new we where going to find the train station. There where seven of us but we all fit into his small van. When driving away, the man said he could guide us a little on the way, and we accepted his gesture without hesitation. He told us he worked as a teacher at the local school and he also told us a little bit about the town where we were. The town was called Koma-city, and lot of Korean refuges came here in the 7th century. Even now there are descendants from the royal family from that time, living in the same house where they settled all those years ago. The man, whose name is Toya Kunio, told us there where a lot of people with Korean ancestors in this city. When they came here they brought some kind of flower where parts of it were very good as high energy food. Other parts however where deadly poisonous, so youd better pick the right part to eat. They still grow a lot of these flowers in the city. Toya-san took us to a bridge made of wood, where we all went out and took a look around.
Some time later we drove to the station where we were greeted by two large Korean poles (see below) with something written on them..... it has to do with protecting the people in this city from bad things. The left pole says something like " The Great Shogun of the people in the whole country" or something. The right pole..??? If anyone knows, please send us an email and let us know too. Below is a photo taken in front of the train station. Since Hashimoto-san is taking the picture, he gets his own picture here to the left.
Here we are all of us at the train station in Koma city. Brian is in front in the yellow t-shirt. The rest are, from the left, Kamikawa-san, Watanabe-san, Toya-san (the man from the city), Per-san, Helena-san and Nakazato-san.
Thanks Nakazato-san for bringing us, Brian for guiding us, Toya-san for helping us find the way home, and the rest of you for just being there. It was a great day and we hope to get out in the nature again soon.