This time of the year is the best time for walking in Japan. It's not too hot or humid, and the low winter sun creates bold shadows accenting the autumn colors. The air is clear and you can see much further, and while the full blast of colors have yet to appear, there is still plenty of nature's show to appreciate.
I headed to Hamada to climb up and over Taimayama, Hemp Mountain. Until it was made illegal in the post-war American occupation, hemp was an important plant in Japan, and here in Shimane a lot of it was grown.
The narrow road heading up the mountain passes isolated farms with terraced rice-paddies.
After a gentle 90-minute walk the top is reached. Like too many mountains anywhere nowadays Taimayama is crowned with an array of TV, satellite, radio, and phone towers, but an observation tower has been built among them to offer fine views over Hamada and inland to the Chugoku Mountains.
The golden leaves of the ancient Ginko tree are common around shrines and temples. The smell of the rotting Ginko fruits laying under the tree is a smell not easily forgotten.
Coming down the other side of the mountain, drying Kaki (persimmons) are a common sight. Last year I had a good harvest from the persimmon trees around my house, but this year raiding monkeys took eveything before they were ripe.
They obviously haven't had that problem here though.
Buy tasteful interior decoration paper lanterns.
Books on Japan
Japan images by Jake Davies
Japan Shimane Hamada walking Fall colors Taimayama Autumn Hemp
Thursday, November 16, 2006