Japan Trip 2023 – Day Eighteen

May 21th

Another tea and mixed nuts breakfast.

Suitcase is now packed.

Possibly still room for a bottle or two of sake.

Time to begin making my way to the airport.

Now sitting on the outside observation deck at Terminal 3, Haneda airport, a small child is laughing so uncontrollably it is difficult to see how it has not infected the whole space, but no one is joining in.

Exit from the ryokan was seamless, they ordered a taxi for me, which took only minutes to arrive. The taxi driver, forty years younger than me could barely lift the luggage. It is heavy, but not that heavy.

Arrived at the bus terminal just as the bus was leaving, so an hour’s wait till the next one.

A lot of people here are very serious about photographing planes taking off and landing.

Been at the airport since around eleven, it is now five thirty, plane leaves at nine.

Found a place that sold vegan burgers. It was bland and overly salty.

Laughing child has connected with another of the same age and they are running amuck. Only sign of life here.

Tanwyn rang earlier, which helped fill in the time, thank you.

Zoe is texting me very bad jokes, thank you, I think.

Thought there would be a gift shop where I could purchase some sake to bring home. There is not.

Shops inside the terminal

Is five-thirty five.

All around these people photographing rigid cylinders of human construction that fly largely by brute force, are small birds manoeuvring and flying with speed, dexterity and intuition, that is light years away from anything human pilots or engineers can even begin to approach.

Have progressed to the gate, awaiting boarding.

Immigration barriers were relatively smooth and painless; no one felt the need to grope me this year.

The journey to the gate was full of too many people and too many up market shops.

Stopped for a beer at a café, 900 yen for an Asahi in a cardboard cup.

Tanwyn has taken over from Zoe in texting me mum jokes, these all based around various philosophers, not all accurately.


Watching sunrise from the plane, very beautiful.

One hour from landing.

Managed to sleep some, so flight has not been so arduous.

Again, no record of my vegan meal request. There was a plant based option of perhaps the worst pasta I have ever eaten, but the mushrooms were nice. The attendant who served me said they were themselves vegan and would ensure I had something to eat for breakfast. This turned out to be some fruit and a bowl of muesli with oat milk. Not my normal preference, but the gesture was appreciated. Muesli was very sugary.

About to descend into Brisbane.

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Seventeen

May 20th

View from ryokan window

Packet of mixed nuts and some bitter tea.

Not quite the breakfast of the previous few days.

Today we attempt to negotiate the inner city subway and rail system to reach the sword museum. Suica card has plenty on it, so should be relatively stress free. Ryokan does not allow access to the room between ten and three.

The map of the local area has a calligraphy supply place marked on it, so I thought I would have a look there before going to the museum. The shop was not on Google maps, nor did the ryokan map match Google and neither quite matched up with the actual streets. I did not find the calligraphy supply shop.

In a back street whilst looking for the calligraphy shop

Huge festival taking place in Asasuka all this weekend, so Tanwyn thought the trains would be crowded. They were, but possibly as much because the museum was located in the same area as a large sumo arena, where the current grand championship was taking place. There were giant sumo wrestlers and their fans everywhere.

Entrance to the Sumo stadium

Found the museum easily enough, only to be greeted at the door with a sign saying, closed today.

This was a major disappointment, in addition to which, it had started raining again.

Next to the museum was a small, but very beautiful garden park with one of the kokoro shaped ponds in the middle. It was somehow linked to the river and rose and fell with the tides.

After wandering the park for a bit, I accosted a security guard outside the museum to see if it would be open tomorrow. It would not be, not until Tuesday, he said. Then he chased after me and said it was open today, it was just that one entrance that was shut. He then showed me the way in.

The exhibition was small, but had some very beautiful blades, many quite modern. There was one particular tachi that stood out from all the rest, no date on it, (nothing in here was in English), only that it was signed Yasutsuna; will need to look that up. The blade had a nick in it, which always makes one wonder if it had been used in battle, though this is by no means a given. The blade was wider than most, which is one of the reasons for its appeal.

There was another green space nearby, with a museum to remember the dead from the great Tokyo earthquake of 1920 something and those who died in the Tokyo bombings of World War II. Was not really in the mood for death and the park was more desolate than green, but it did have a bin where I could deposit my coffee bottle from earlier.

Found a nearby 7-11, the best combini brand for vegan options and picked up some tofu sticks and salad for lunch/breakfast, which I ate in the first, actually green, park.

Trains by now were so packed it took two goes to get into one.

Too early to return to the ryokan, so went to the Nezu shrine today instead of tomorrow, as I had originally planned.

The avenues of red torii leading to the Inari shrines were much smaller than I had anticipated. So small you had to stoop not to hit your head on them.

The shrine is very popular and it is extremely difficult to take photos without random strangers ruining them.

The main pathway is lined with shrine irrelevant arts and crafts stalls.

The azalea garden was not in full flowering, but very nice; again, smaller than anticipated.

Lots of people in kimono today, don’t know if that is a flow on from the Asasuka events, or a normal thing for this shrine.

The main shrine

Had one more failed attempt at finding the calligraphy supply shop and now back in the ryokan and soon to head to the bath.

Have done all I came to Tokyo to do in the last days, so uncertain as to what will happen tomorrow before going to the airport.

My plan to buy sake to take home from a highly recommended local bottle shop was foiled by the fact that they are shut on Sundays.

Think I will just check out and make my way to the airport and see what unfolds from there.

Tanwyn rang this afternoon rather than series texting, so nice to hear her voice and chat.

Tomorrow we pack!

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Sixteen

May 19th

Bag is largely packed, time for final breakfast, then check out.

Was put in a different room for breakfast this morning as apparently the priests were in the regular dining room and they are noisy. Good breakfast, as expected.

More priests arriving throughout breakfast and at one point I saw the worker come from the dining room with what looked like a large carton of sake.

Something definitely going on.

Check out was painless.

Dragged the suitcase to the cable car station where I found my room key in my pocket.

Explained to the attendant there the situation and they reluctantly rang the owners and after a very long conversation, said it was sorted. I expect the young priest was less than happy, given he was already being run off his feet by the Shinto gerontocracy currently dominating his shubuko.

Another long travel day.

Cable car down the mountain

Few issues, thanks again to Tanwyn’s preparations.

There was one point where the Tachikawa connection was uncertain, when a random stranger asked where I was going and showed me to cross through a parked train to reach the correct platform.

Could not find a taxi at Ueno station, so just walked to the ryokan. It had begun raining soon after I left the station.

At the ryokan too early, so did all the administrative necessities, left the luggage behind and foolishly headed off for an unplanned visit to the famous Kappabashi Dougu, kitchen shop street.

Not in the mountains anymore

Half way there, Google maps, suspecting the financial cost, reversed directions and tried to head me away from my destination. Was too late. By now I knew where it was and simply ignored the app.

Thousands of yen later, it was clear I had to move away from the shops.

I suspect the place I bought the paring knife from is the same place Joe bought his knife on the last School trip. This is just a feeling based on recollections of his description of purchasing the knife. Will follow up on this.

Walked back to the ryokan in increasingly heavy rain. Tried to find some form of protein snacks from a supermarket, but nothing there aside from packets of vegan cheese. I did not bother. Fortunately, the nearby 7-11 had the tofu sticks that helped sustain me in Matsumoto; those, plus some beers and mixed nuts and off I finally set to the ryokan. Could not remember if the rooms had a fridge – they do not – there is not enough space – but there is a beer machine on the first floor.

So now bathed and settled in for a quiet night in my tiny, tiny room.

View from the bath

City rooms are all tiny, Tanwyn tells me.

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Fifteen

May 18th

They add more dishes to the breakfast each day. Today there was asparagus with goma dofu, an eggplant dish and a konnyaku dish.

Dining room doors open this morning

Last day, so thought I would make a final shrine visit.

Was still beautiful, even in the sunshine, though much more crowded and punctuated constantly be the sound of two claps. Lots of subsidiary shrines, all attracting individuals with specific needs.

Bought amulets for each of the household.

My plan for the rest of the day was to buy a couple of bottles of beer and head up to the lookout at the nearby plateau and just sit in the forest and relax with the camera for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the shop where I could buy said beer, located in a nearby souvenir street, was not open. I waited and waited; it did not open. The only other option was the fifteen minute walk to the cable car station and purchase from the shops there, one of which did sell the cheapest beer in the village. By no means cheap beer, just cheapest relative to the rest of the town.

That done, I set off back to the forest.

Stopped on the way to drink one of the beers at the point above the cable car station and to photograph a broom for Katie.

Spent the rest of the afternoon as planned, just sitting still in the forest.

Taunted by small birds and butterflies, none of which would hold still long enough to be photographed.

Quiet interrupted

Occasionally you could hear a deep guttural sound, which may have been the goat-antelopes, though I did not see any. Mixed with this was the occasional sound of taiko coming from the shrine.

A relaxing day.

Some party going on at the accommodation tonight. Normal beer handed over by a worker, not the owner, unopened, but with a bottle opener. Saw the owner explaining to a suit, that I am an Australian. Lots of noise from downstairs. At bath time a side room has a table with more than a dozen glasses on it, many still with amber liquid in them. Raucous laugher coming from another, unseen, room. Worker races up to me to ensure I use the correct bath. The other bath has a new sign on it, normally it is either occupied or available, this one just said MEN – that was not for me.

I suspect some form of Shinto/ Illuminati gathering.

Apart from that, another quiet evening. Finally drank some of the sake purchased days ago. Not overly impressed with it.

Travel day tomorrow.

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Fourteen

May 17th

Another sunny day, another delicious breakfast; today had the addition of black goma dofu. Very good.

Plan for today is slow forest walking. I wish to visit the Nanato waterfall, or, as my map names it, waterrtall, and I want to walk the Shin-en-no-Mori, (forest of the gods, track), it is a one way only trail and I have yet to find the entrance.

Back at the shubuko, is only early afternoon, but my legs are tired and now it is quite hot. The waterfall and the path to it was breathtakingly beautiful. Very steep to reach, but worth the journey.

And the water was delicious.

On the way back from the waterfall, decided to have another look at the plateau lookout where the goat-antelope were, as it was such a cloudless day. Saw a snake, or at least bits of a snake, as it did not want to be seen. I doubt it will be visible in the attempted photographs.

Came across the two French women who arrived at the shubuko last night, (saw them at breakfast), they were Very Serious Walkers, moving so fast I do not know how they saw anything.

Actually found the entrance to the Shin en no Mori.

It was a very narrow path, much drier than all the others, (of course, it also wasn’t pouring down rain today, but still, had that drier feel to it).

Saw a very tiny, very beautiful little bird that paused long enough to be noticed, then flitted away in the way most forest birds do, too fast for a photo.

Bought a couple of universally expensive beers on the way home. Shopkeeper asked if I wanted them opened, but as I was going to drink them in my room, I said no, then walking away realised I had no was to open them once back at the accommodation. Looked at other souvenir shops to see if they sold bottle openers, they did not. Went back to the shop I bought them from to see if he did. He laughed and gave me one for free. So now I sit and rest my weary legs, drinking said beer.

Had planned to do the Shinto prayer ceremonies tomorrow, as advertised on the website and room handout, (500 yen), but seems that is also no longer available, according to the priest son.

The old woman who runs the place keeps wanting to chat and because I will say occasional sentences in passable Japanese, like, I saw a snake, she launches off in non stop Japanese and I have no idea what she is saying.

She did show me some calligraphy this morning that says something like, the mountain is always quiet. Apparently quiet is the philosophy here, even the taiko taught here is said to be more quiet, she said.

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Thirteen

May 16th

Is sunny today, still cold, but no rain. Should have some nice views.

Is a laundry day, I have run out of clean clothes.

Is time for a relatively restful day anyway; legs are tired.

Breakfast was very good again, and the natto was back.

The owner, for some reason, interrupted the meal to tell me they did not like the local kamoshika, goat-antelopes, because they continually ate into her garden and being a protected species, she could not harm them.

After breakfast, I am shown the dryer and told the washing machine is broken. But then was lead round to the outside of the building where there was an ancient machine dating back to the warring states period, which still worked.

The working machine

View from the washing machine

So this morning will be sitting and waiting while the machines do work for me.

Laundry done, a slow meander to the souvenir shops near the cable car, looking for wolf paraphernalia for Zoe. Almost nothing on offer, odd for a mountain dedicated to wolves. Sat and looked at the view for a bit.

Checked out another shop, which had even less, bought another beer and was told I could only drink it over at the picnic tables, which was fine, as that was my original intent.

Nothing wolfy for Zoe at the cable car gift shop. Bought more of the only snack available to me – wasabi flavoured broad beans and indulged in a bottle of sake to round out my day of rest and relaxation.

Currently back at the shubuko.

May sit on the veranda and possibly take some photos, may not.

From the veranda

From the veranda

From the veranda

From the veranda

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Twelve

May 15th

It is disturbing to wake up in the early hours of the morning to find Tanwyn not there. Takes some time to fall back to sleep.

Is midday now, making a cup of tea and going to rest for a while before heading out again, this time for takigyo.

Breakfast was very good, no natto, but an additional bowl of soup: vegetable, tofu and mushroom, served in one of those cast iron flame pots, to go with the miso soup.

The proprietor was so pleased with their ability to make a vegan breakfast, that they asked permission to take a photo of it. I guess very few, if any, past guests have ever chosen this option, clearly offered on their website.

At breakfast it was explained that the festival on Okunoin mountain was this morning. This is for a powerful mountain kami, believed in this region to have been responsible for, among other things, the creation of Japan. This certainly seemed worthy of attending. It was, however, an hour’s walk away, up some very steep slopes. I was told some parts needed the use of chains to assist with the climbing.

In addition, it was pouring with rain.

As we now have Ofuda from here, it seemed wise to visit the festival. On Tanwyn’s sage advice, I left the camera behind – too difficult to keep dry, photography may not have been allowed and it would be a hindrance on the climb. So what few photos I did take were done on the phone.

Walking through the cloud filled forest with the rain pelting down, from somewhere ahead could be heard the sound of a conch shell being blown. It was magical.

Where the path splits to go up to Okunoin is a giant cedar tree with an outstretched branch, known as the Tengu’s chair. Breathtaking tree.

Entrance to the path up the mountain

Just up from here was a small shrine with the conch blowing monk. He did his business and disappeared up the path, as did a couple of other individuals, I assumed were also on their way to the festival.

I made an offering and headed up after them.

After a while, with none of them in sight, I began to question whether I had taken the correct path. Every now and then from above and ahead, the conch shell could be heard, but no people seen.

Eventually, I came across one of the others who had stopped for a cigarette.

On I went. The warnings about steepness were not exaggerated. Nor was this a path by normal Japanese standards. Little more than a watercourse covered in tree roots in most places. And it did, indeed, take an hour to reach the top.

The chains were more to stop one falling rather than help with climbing

Only a dozen people in attendance, five of these priests and two others there just to film. Again, not what you would expect when you hear the word matsuri.

Most of the time was spent waiting while the priests prepared the small shrine building, barely big enough to fit more than three of them at a time. They cleaned, put up shimenawa and organised the offerings.

While they did this, I climbed the final few dozen metres to the very top of the peak.

Marker at the top of the mountain

Here was a very small shrine, being cleaned and offerings made by one of the priests.

Back down to the main event and it turns out one of the priests is one of the owners of the shukubo, the son of the dead takigyo priest, so I assume they have continued in their father’s footsteps.

Once the ceremony began, it soon became clear that we were not there to watch, but rather to participate, (all except the two with cameras). Not understanding anything the priest running things was saying, I simply copied along. I had initially thought the conch monk was going to be in charge, but he was just the conch guy, and after that he was done, just another participant like the rest of us.

Prayers were read, we were all blessed with a branch/wand, shrine doors were opened, (inside, among many other items, were two of the peculiar Mitakesan wolf guardians), offerings of various kinds were laid out.

Then each of us was individually directed to enter the shrine with the priests, where we were handed a branch with shide to offer to the shrine – two bows, two claps, one deep bow.

It was just assumed we all, including me, knew what we were supposed to do. It is possible I was the only one there who had not done this before.

More prayers, the offerings were cleared away, doors closed, final prayers and it was done.

Sake was handed out in tiny cups, a priest gave a speach, no idea what about, something to do with years and significance, I think. We drank our sake.

Food offerings were distributed to us. I was given a block of soap like mochi and a banana.

The rain stopped on the way home.

I truly felt honoured to have been able to participate, there was no special dispensation made for the Westerner, I was simply accepted into the ceremony as one of the participants.

Very, very nice.

Forgot to mention that as part of opening and closing the inner doors, the priest involved intoned, very loudly, a sound/wail highly reminiscent of an emergency vehicle’s siren. Quite a powerful and moving thing to hear.

Just back from the Takigyo and looking at the written instructions I was given before we set out. They bear only a passing similarity to what we actually did. While the priest doing this obviously took it all seriously, there was a business like air of let’s do this, get it over with and not waste time. Perhaps just an exponent of von Clausewitzian economy of force.

There were three of us in the group: myself, the priest and a woman who joined in as we were leaving for the waterfall. I will admit to being initially impressed when, when she stopped to use the toilet on the way, he just kept marching down the track, yelling back at her that she could catch up. But it was apparent later that she was a regular practitioner and knew the drill.

Was about a half hour walk through the forest to the waterfall and the route we took from the priest’s shukubo to the shrine and forest entrance was a new one to me; one that was even more steep than my normal route. I did not think that possible.

It is a stunningly beautiful forest and the waterfall site even more so.

On arrival, the other person was sent off to a makeshift change room, while the priest and I changed in the open: loin cloths and white coats.

We went through the preparatory exercises and breathings. Similar, but different, to what I was familiar with.

Then, coats off for myself and the priest, we took turns to enter the waterfall, we each went in three times, for about ten seconds a time, at the priest’s timing.

It was necessary to lean back into the rockface to get the full flow of water onto the head and body, as it did not drop directly onto the head, but came down a steeply sloping cliff. Was cold enough to cause pain to the top of the head. Once we had each been under three times, there was a short set of exercises and breathing and we were done.

Dried, changed and the walk back out.

A thoroughly enjoyable experience, well worth doing. I have not the words.

Now, soon, my beer will be gone and my allocated bath time will be here.

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Eleven

May 14th

Nice to have bird sounds and rain drops on awakening. Though I will be pleased if the rain goes away.

Breakfast was a pleasant surprise, as it was vegan, as requested. Not as good as Narita, the best, nor Matsumoto, but certainly delicious.

In the dining room

They are offering dinner as well, but at 2500 yen, plus a vegan surcharge of another 1100 yen on top, for what is essentially some white rice and vegetables, I will, for now, say no. There are other options to explore.

Today the plan is to head to the information office once it is open and then wander into the forest in search of tengu and flying squirrels.

Till then I shall sip tea and watch the forest, which looks cold, wet and windy.

Tourist office only had the same crappy maps everyone else is handing out, they are inaccurate and not to scale, but they do have cartoon characters and birds drawn on them.

They did suggest the shukubo across the road might be able to help with Takigyo. It was one of the places I had originally considered staying at, but ended up where I am because of their vegan food options and closeness to the shrine and because they did not offer crystal meditation sessions.

No one around, so I did the standard, SUMIMASEN!, interrupting one of the said meditation sessions. The proprietor was a little confused by my request and concerned about his class, so he sent me off to come back in thirty minutes.

Wandered to the cable car station, bought a cold coffee from a machine and wandered back.

On the road to the Cable car station

He was waiting with some dates, both of us were now a little confused, until I explained that I was not after accommodation, that I was staying elsewhere till Friday and all I wanted from him was the Takigyo.

He looked relieved.

Meet him here tomorrow at three o’clock he said, no problem, bring a towel.

We parted, both of us happy.

So I may yet get my waterfall meditation. Nothing is real except for the moment it is actually happening. So we shall see. But it looks more likely today, than it did yesterday.

Set off to do the rock garden walk, which is a forest walk leading to a small valley and along a very beautiful creek. At the entrance to the walk is a small off track leading to a lookout, just before reaching this, a Japanese tourist approached me on their way back, saying there are doubutsu ahead.

Sure enough, there were two creatures, which Zoe has subsequently described as a cross between a deer and a wolf, munching on the foliage. Though aware of my presence, they were not overly concerned.

Further research revealed that they were probably, Kamoshika, “coarse pelt deer”, a Japanese goat-antelope.

The rest of the walk was very relaxing and stunningly beautiful. The light kept changing, the cedars were amazing, steep, steep slopes covered in light brown, perfectly vertical, often enormous, trunks. Crow calls and caws always in the background, but never to be seen. It is tengu country.

Saw the famed Tengu Rock

Tengu Rock

Atop Tengu Rock

and passed by the waterfall site of tomorrow’s misogi.

Eventually came back to the lookout deviation.

There is a small shack set up here selling an odd variety of alcohol and coffee. Had a beer rather than a Bordeaux while watching the rain move in.

The souvenir shops in the souvenir street were selling a variety of wasabi products. Wasabi is one of the local produce. At the Mitake train station there was a woman with a street stall selling it fresh. But everything in the shops here had some form of bonito added to it.

Off to the cable car station where I was able to get vegan steam buns yesterday.

None for sale today.

Bought some wasabi flavoured broad beans to help stave off hunger pains later.

Rain and cold becoming increasingly severe, so time to head back to the shukubo.

Found a path that paralleled the main one, but high above it, with no one else on it. Very nice.

View from above the cable car station

Back in my room trying to get warm, drinking over priced beer and texting with Tanwyn.

Soon it will be bath time.

Outside it is white with wind, cloud and rain.

View from room window

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Ten

May 13th

I think the nesting bird was a brown heron, and the raptors I have been seeing, black kites, which have some associations with Tengu legends.

Today is one of the more complex travel days, with at least one unknown factor, not able to be resolved by Tanwyn’s wizardry.

Should be interesting.

Is cold and wet in Kofu this morning.

Goodbye Kofu.

On the train to Tachikawa.

All happened a little more quickly than anticipated, so no chance to pick up some kombini breakfast food. May be one of the hunger days.

Did solve the Tachikawa to Mitake mystery. Yes, I do need to change trains at Ome. Once again my limited Japanese, combined with an official’s limited English, equals adequate communication.

Am now sitting in my room on the mountain, looking out at an awe inspiring view and reflecting on a very mixed day.

No food at Tachikawa station, at least none for me.

Deviated from the ‘Book’ to catch a train to Ome. Nothing wrong with the book, but it turns out there were earlier options on another platform.

Off the train at Ome and the next one is waiting on the other side of the same platform. Thank you to the book and its marvellous author for making this known.

Will admit to some trepidation after the train pulled out, but no need for concern.

Mitake is a tiny town, but the bus to the cable car was just over the road from the station and about to leave in five minutes. This was pure coincidence and good fortune. Being a weekend, there could well have been a considerable wait between buses.

Mitake bus

Next trip, I think we avoid travel days on weekends, options are far more limited.

The clouds blowing up the mountain and through the trees outside my window are delightfully distracting.

Was a bit of an uphill climb from the bus stop to reach the Cable car station with luggage.

The Cable car was also ready to go a few minutes after I arrived. And the book I was listening to on Sextus Empiricus ended just at that moment.

Cable car

So beautiful when we disembarked,

View from the top cable car station

and the vegetable filled steam buns being sold, were, I was assured, vegan. Past the time for butter demons to have appeared now, so they must have been safe. They were also delicious.

I set off to find the accommodation and was accosted by an old woman waving an information leaflet. She asked where I was staying and gave me directions.

Path to the village

Seemed simple.

The streets here are labyrinthian and not all are marked on the map. They are also very, very steep. So any wrong turn is painful, dragging an increasingly weighty suitcase.

Finally identified the accommodation by comparing the kanji on the sign to that on Google Maps.


If I had seen my name on the Welcome blackboard out front, it would have simplified things.

I was an hour too early, so they sent me away.

First place to do that this trip, though thankfully, they let me leave the suitcase, which by now weighed over 112 kilograms.

A pause in the journaling whilst I took my pre-booked bath in their large cedar tub.

Like much of this place so far, an In/Yo experience, (though early days yet), the bath itself was excellent and you guarantee it to yourself by pre booking a time, however, the change room is heated with a kerosene heater, the fumes of which permeate the bathroom.

Back to the day’s reporting.

Expelled from the shubuko, I made my way to the main shrine.

Even more than the legally required 2064stairs for any Japanese shrine,

Stairs to the first gateway

More stairs

More stairs

Last stairs

some of which had odd demon / guardian deity images imbedded into them.

The place is extremely beautiful, the setting, the architecture, the atmosphere; is a shame about all the signs and modern metal handrails, etcetera.

Still, stunning to behold.

The shrine complex was layers of beautiful smaller shrines surrounding the main building.

Including a viewing spot where one looked out onto, I am assuming, a nearby sacred mountain. It certainly generated the awe to be called Kami by me.

Was able to purchase Ofuda, they had two types and I made sure the one I was after was specific to this shrine and not a generic pan-Kami Ofuda. They seemed pleased with my choice of the local gods.

There was also a fire making talisman, composed of a mitama shaped piece of iron and a rectangle of flint. This I also purchased, because, fire lighting.

Attached to the shrine was a small antiquities museum, a treasure house, I think it was referred to as, another of those rather obvious tourist things that I knew nothing about till I was on the spot.

It contained two national treasures.

There was armour and swords from the time of the Genpei War. One sword was a Buddhist inscribed tachi that was just emanating power, it was nicked in ways that indicated battle use, but no way of knowing for certain. There was also a “divine blade”, not meant to ever be drawn, as it invoked the the Kami.

All of this was explained on the tablet handed out so English explanations could be given. No English leaflets.

But there were also, not mentioned by the tablet, two of the most magnificent naginata blades I have ever seen. Things of beauty, both of them.

No photos allowed.

Back to the shubuko.

They seemed surprised I had ordered vegan breakfasts and let me know it would cost an extra 1100 yen a meal. They seemed equally surprised that a vegan meal meant no fish stock, eggs, meat or dairy. Will be interested to see what they deliver and if I can eat it.

On trying to book the Takigyo, my main purpose for staying at this shubuko, they informed me they do not do that anymore. They stopped when their father died three years ago.

“But your website still offers it”, I said.

“Yes”, they replied.

“It is why I booked with you”, I said.

“Sorry”, they said.

And that was that.

Levels of sadness and disappointment.

I am having trouble processing, but it is out of my control.

Later they tried to argue about my preferred breakfast time.

Overall, a mixed day, to say the least.

My room

View from the room

Kai Cho



Japan Trip 2023 – Day Nine

May 12th

Air conditioning in this room does not go low enough.

Nice to be able to do shower misogi again to start the day.

Kofu cold water is a lot colder than Brisbane cold water.

The last of yesterday’s kombini natto sushi for breakfast.

And now will soon set off for the Takeda Shrine. Allowing an hour’s walk, assuming minimal Google misdirections. May even be back in time to go to lunch at the vegan café.

Stepped out of the elevator into a lobby full of Japanese suits. To a man, (no women in the room), a look of confusion swept across their faces as they saw me emerge, like they had just been blinked into an alternate universe.

Amused me, if not them; most will probably recover.

Leisurely walk to the shrine, Google doing its job.

Shrine is built on the site of the original Takeda residence and is beautiful. It felt vibrant and alive, not too crowded and with Miko and priests and other shrine attendants going about their daily business.

There were raptors flying overhead on the way there and some large stork like bird flew low over the shrine just after I arrived.

Bought a charm each for Tanwyn and myself and an Ofuda for each kamiza: house and dojo.

Wandering away from the main buildings, there was a bizarre sound coming from the trees. Sounded like Hollywood dinosaurs preparing to attack. It took a while to find, but there were a couple of very large nests in a tree, with babies of the stork like bird. Tried to take some photos, but given the angles, I doubt anything will be in focus, or recognisable if it is. Nevertheless, it was a pure delight to experience.

Over the road to the very new Shingen museum. Full of bits and pieces excavated from the residence, including a reproduction of the skeleton of a war horse found buried there. Fourteen years old, but tiny. Only 1.26 metres tall.

Souvenir shop over the road had the usual crap, but also some hand made, high end suzuri, selling for as much as 880 000 yen.

Google says fifteen minutes to walk to one of the burial sites for Shingen.

Fifteen minutes later and Google says I am still fifteen minutes away, but now in a different direction.

I give up on the tomb and Google’s games and decide to head back into town to try the vegan café. Eventually, I come across a sign saying Shingen’s tomb this way. It looks uphill all the way and does not match the map. I choose to ignore it.

Google plays nice all the way to the café and the audio book I was listening to finished at the moment I arrived.

The lunch time special, Buddha’s bowl with tandoori sauce was good, but not great.

The Japanese have a strange relationship with curry.

I do not regret the meal, but will not bother repeating it this trip.

Back to the train station for the obligatory Shingen statue photo and perhaps some gift shopping.

I purchased nothing.

Legs are tired after six hours of walking.

No green spaces to just sit and relax like at Matsumoto, so back to the hotel.

Tried to pick up some tofu sticks for breakfast, but none in either of the kombini I tried.

Beer and sake time.

Kai Cho