Now is the season in Japan to go outside! The temperature is perfect, the weather is sunny, the mountains are green. Next month the rainy season will start, and after that the unbearable heat of summer, and it won’t be until October when it has finally cooled down enough to actually do stuff outside again. That’s why I’ve been posting so many photos of hikes lately :-). This time, we didn’t go climb any mountains but rather walked along side the mountainridge near Nara. The trail is called the “Yama-no-be-no-michi”, or “mountainside trail”, and is a 5 hour walk through beautiful farmlands, bamboogroves, forests and along old temples and shrines. To get a feeling of old Japanese countryside, this is the place to go! The walk is quite long (it took us 5 hours and my feet were pretty tired), but there are so many amazing and interesting things along the way that it kind of feels like an adventure. Here are some weird and beautiful things we encountered!
The first temple where the trail starts (Isonokami Jingu) is a very lovely place in the forest, with really fluffy chickens walking around!
Walking a while through the forest, suddenly the scenery changes into countryside, with orchards like these all around.
In the back you can see the bambooforests. These are really dark and kind of scary, because of the wind the bamboo was bending and waving and made deep sounds as they bumped eachother. Some were breaking off and looked like spikes, so we were careful to walk there!
Even though you sometimes pass through really dark areas, you always have a beautiful of the city Nara laying in the valley.
But the really cool thing is that the farmers sell their fruits and vegetables to people passing by. There were lots of stands with a sign “Everything on this table, 100 yen each” and a little rusty box to put your money in! All kinds of beans, berries, cherries, lots of oranges and mandarins and even cotton.
We bought some cherries!
Passing by a lovely orange stand we saw a sign that inside they sold fresh mandarin juice and homemade cakes. Perfect time for a break!
A lot of people are were working on their lands, and the creativity in their scarecrow designs was really cool. Here are some examples!
This one looked really really manga Japanese, very charming with those shiny eyes:
Wait, is that… Michael Jackson…?
But then, we saw these creepy things… Are those… heads…?
To stay in the same atmosphere, a bit further down the trail we suddenly saw a graveyard (you see the stones in the back? They almost look like a cityscape!)
The area was called “The ruined temple” (really!)… Overgrown statues and gravestones in this old graveyard.
Passing the graveyard, we came into the territory of the tombs of ancient Japanese Emperors. Little lakes were scattered around big burial mounds, hills in the landscape tha serve as tombs. The lakes were filled with giant schools of goldfish, really magical!
But then these really giant forest tombs appeared! You might know these from photos, because if you look from the air, they actually have the shape of a giant keyhole! You cannot enter them, they are like peaceful holy little forest islands, which makes them even more mysterious.
This is what these tombs like from above (wikipedia link).
Passing the tombs, the landscape slowly changes with more temples and tiny shrines hidden in the forest.
Some very cool details on the roofs and walls:
Passing some mysterious hidden forest shrines:
And a final climb with a very nice view of Nara before we headed back to the trainstation!
If you want to see the real Japanese countryside, eat fresh vegetables and fruits, feel like you’re on a small Japanese adventure while exploring ancient tombs and temples, then ollow the mountainside trail of Nara!!