At the far end of Yugawara Town is one of the three major water falls that the town tourist board likes to put on their tourist maps. Naturally I had to walk up there to take a look. It is located about 40 minutes easy walk from the station but for people in a hurry there is also a bus stop right in front of the entrance to the fall. Not only is the Fudonotaki (The Fudo Fall) a typically beautiful nature spot with its 15 meter long fall cool and wet in the summer, it is also a hotspot for mineralogists and geologists who come here to study the naturally occurring zeolites, of which one local variant was first discovered here in 1931, the Yugawaralite. I am an amateur in many things but certainly not even an amateur regarding minerals, so I am afraid I won’t be able to tell you anything more about it. The only thing I think I picked up is the fact that Yugawaralites often occur in areas with hot springs. Appart from the yugawaralite, you can also find laumontite, mordenite, epistilbite and chabazite. Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me can brief us about the significance of this! Anyway, the water fall and the surrounding little shrines and altars made for a very picturesque scene in the fast approaching dusk. If you get there earlier in the day there is a small cafe with outdoor hot spring water tubs for visitors to soak their feet.
If you are a regular traveler in Japan you might notice the name, Fudonotaki, or Fudotaki. It is a very common name for waterfalls in Japan, with I think over one hundred places sharing the same name.
One of the most interesting parts of the the Meiji Seimeikan in Marunouchi (mentioned a few times in posts recently) are the original building details, the elevators, the internal tube mailing stystem, the buttons, levers and mechanics of the structure etc. It adds to the experience. The rooms on the visitor’s level are very luxurious, and you must wonder at the quality of the fittings and furniture, I doubt many modern offices look this good even after a couple of years of use, and this building has been in used through wars and Earthquakes for decades by now. The building is open on weekends and the is no entrance fee so go have a look when you are in the area!
Walking around in cultural and historical Kamakura, one of Japan’s once capitals, I spotted an interesting building that looked to fit in a little better than most of the new builds you see recently. The architect must have anticipated the interest as he had fitted an explanation sheet on the side of the building for interested viewers. This little act alone makes me believe there is quite a lot of love invested in this building, which one vital ingredient in sustainable architecture. Kamakura isn’t exactly starved of interesting buildings, a stone’s throw away from this little house near Hase Station I found a couple of handsome old fashioned black wooden buildings. I love how Japanese cities (at least the best ones) are so eminently walkable! To be a walkable city, it is not enough to focus on good sidewalks and street crossings, it is also important to make the buildings so interesting that you actually want to walk there, just to explore!
It’s been a tough weekend. Myself and two friends spent a week preparing for the second run up north, delivering supplies to the shelters. Japan as a country is very much like a large ship. It takes time to change direction, but once there it can move with tremendous power and speed. It had been only a week since the first time I went up but life was improving in small, almost invisible steps. I haven’t had time to put up any photos or even get a good night’s sleep, but here’s a few random things I saw in the worst hit areas that convinced me Japan is now back on the road towards recovery:
– At a shelter in Ishinomaki I saw dozens of volunteers cooking and helping organizing a shelter in a local high school. The volunteer were able to take over from the exhausted local teachers and staff that had been continuously looking after the refugees since day one.
– I saw a mailman entering a refugee shelter of about 300, pausing at the noticeboard while looking for the recipients of his mail at the long list of people staying there. It was incredibly touching to see that these mailmen will carry on in their mission no matter what.
– In Kesennuma we met a ferry at the harbor, having just resumed scheduled trips to and from the offshore islands to the mainland. It was almost surreal to see the ticket booth and the vending machine set up in the middle of a city that just four weeks ago were hit by a 20m tsunami and which burnt for 4 days.
– I saw many more people smiling than crying.
– Preparations for school start was underway in many small towns. Some of the schools were still covered in oil and mud, but volunteers had arrived and were working hard to clean up the debris.
More photos and stories to come, once I have had some rest.