Fields of bamboo grass spread off into the distance, offering gorgeous unobstructed views.
It was the next morning after 萌 and I watched the sunset over Stonehammer together. I rose early as usual the next day to catch the sunrise. This time I looked not west toward that rocky mallet but rather eastwards that vast field of sasa grass spreading out on the slopes high above sheer cliffs dropping a hundred meters or more to the valley below. As I waited, suddenly the sunlight caught the grass on the mountains shoulder, lighting it brilliant gold.
At the foot of the mountain the sign read, “Watch out for vipers.” The fields of bamboo grass covering the slopes would have been an ideal home for a poisonous snake, but as I crested the summit of the mountain I found no dangerous reptiles but rather a tent already set and waiting for evening though it was still hours until sunset.
The sound of my approaching footsteps brought attention to its occupant and soon there emerged like the budding of a flower not a serpent or medusa but possibly a siren. She said her name was 萌.
And so we spent waning afternoon together chatting idly as the sun settled towards the shoulder of the mountain. Suddenly the light was right and I jumped to work. 萌 stood behind me watching. Almost as an afterthought I said, “Stand over there. The photo will look better if you’re in it.” Then I took the photo.
She was tired and went to bed. I stayed up to watch the moon rise.
Copyright Brian Heise, 2019
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On the second day of my trip to Akagi Mountain in Gunma Prefecture Japan, Tianyu and I climbed to the top of Jizo-dake, where we were able to gaze across the caldera to Kurobi-dake, the highest peak on the mountain. We had stood on that summit yesterday, but the sky was so crowded by clouds that we couldn’t hardly see a thing. Thankfully, on this day we were blessed with good weather.
I knew it was supposed to rain when I went out last weekend, but I couldn’t let that stop me from going out. Though the approaching rain clouds blocked out the tall white-capped mountains in the distance, they produced a mysterious red light as the sun dipped towards the horizon.
Hiking in mid-March following a relatively warm November, and moreover hiking through the foothills of Gunma on the edge of the Kanto, I didn’t expect many fantastic views. Imagine my surprise then when I crested the ridge to see a line of white-capped mountains stretching across the horizon. Needless to say, I was satisfied.
On the first morning of my trip to Kanna Lake, I walked through a small mountainside village as I descended down to the rocky gorge below the the dam. On the way, I took this picture.
And so I sat on the bus as it wound through the town, wondering whether or not I would go back to the mountains again soon. Two days passed wandering around Kanna Lake and I hadn’t once felt that spur of emotion that usually drives my every step. I wondered if my love of the mountains had really been nothing more than an affair. And then, out of the corner of my eye there was a flash of color as the buildings in the village fell away and the farmland spread out before me exposing the mountainscape beyond which the last rays of the sun were quickly disappearing. Faint though that spark was, it rekindled a flame: I knew I would be back next month.
From the top of Mt. Otake in western Tokyo, Fuji rises blue in the early morning light.