Off the Beaten Path, Japan #31: Walking the Ridge

Walking the Ridge

The photo connoisseurs of the internet often disparage the snapshot, but in reality some of the best scenes are those most unplanned.

Off the Beaten Path, Japan #29: Morning Light on Kamegamori

Morning Light on Kamegamori

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.

Off the Beaten Path, Japan #28: Sunset on Stonehammer

Sunset on Stonehammer

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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Off the Beaten Path, Japan 27: Sea of Clouds

A sea of clouds at sunrise near Ishizuchi Mountain, Shikoku, Japan

Copyright Brian Heise, 2019

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Off the Beaten Path, Japan #26: Kurobi Peak

Kurobi-dake and Koma-ga-Take rise up over the crater lake Ono below

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.

Off the Beaten Path, Japan #25: From the Summit of Jizo Peak

In contrast to the previous days thick haze, we were blessed with clear sunny skies on the second day. From the top of Jizo Peak, we could see snow-capped peaks in the distance. Down in the Kanto, the world is full of color, but winter hasn’t yet left the peaks.

Off the Beaten Path, Japan #18: Kanna Lake

Mountains fold into mountains beyond the shores of the lake

When I visited Kanna Lake, I remember being really disappointed with the photos I took. It was winter, and everything was grey and brown, and the lack of color caused the photos to suffer. But then I decided to experiment with black and white, which I’d never tried before. The result was rather pleasing, I think. What do you think? Leave a comment below!

© Brian Heise, 2018

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Off the Beaten Path, Japan #10

White Caps in the Distance

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.

Off the Beaten Path, Japan #7

Last View of Kanna Lake

On my first visit Kanna Lake was veiled in mist, such that I never saw it. Rain fell hard, leaving the summer verdure glistening. It seemed like an incredibly beautiful place and I was eager to return again to see it on a clear day. But that day turned out to be in February, and the beautiful green landscape that I remembered was stripped of its color and left seeming drab and dull. And yet, as I climbed up the ridge to cross over into the next valley on my journey along the Kanto Fureai Trail, one of my last clear views of the lack still managed to capture a bit of what I was looking for.