This is part two of a quest to find Dousugi, giant cedar trees in the mountains near my home. You didn’t hear about part one because I never finished the blog post for it; perhaps in documenting these adventures, I cannot recount every exciting detail and thought I experience, but rather highlight some of the main parts. This is part two because part one was a “failure.” I went off with my shoddy gaijin maps written from hearsay, made many side trips, got lost, and never made it to my goal of Dousugi. However, what I did find last time, was another gateway to the mountains where I can follow trails and unknown roads to my desire’s end. And … are you ready for this? … I saw my first wild BEAR!!! After I had reached my limit and turned around giving up on Dousugi that day, I rode my bike about 20 minutes back towards civilization and stopped at a campsite to eat my lunch/dinner. Just after I packed up and saddled up on my mamachari, I looked over towards the woods and saw the big black furry mass that was a bear. It noticed me at the same time, and immediately lumbered into the woods as fast as it could. I got a great look at it for a few seconds, and only about twenty meters away too.
During one of my breaks from riding, I dismounted and noticed a large strange flowing movement going on in a nearby puddle. I looked closer to find hundreds of small tadpoles squirming about. It reminded me of a toddler’s t-shirt I had found in the dollar stores here that said “Happy froggies love the rain”, and had a cute cartoon frog on it with a big smile in the rain. I tease Jolene often about this, as she’s not as fond of the rain as I am, and constantly have my eyes open for larger sizes.
I soon reached the area where I thought the Dousugi (large cedar trees) would be and looked around to admire the forest. At that moment, I saw some very familiar, but very strange foliage from branches that looked like those from a cedar, but much bigger and brighter green. I then realized, I was staring straight at one of these giant cedars. At this point, I realized I hadn’t quite made it where my map had told me the Dousugi were, but I was certainly seeing one, and immediately left my bike to search out these cedars on foot in the woods.
I tried sitting in the crook in the largest one, maybe to close my eyes for ten minutes to feel myself in such an awesome presence. But after 60 seconds, I looked down at my ankles to find a swarm of mosquitos. I thanked the mosquitos for urging me on my way, and on my way I went.
Walking back down to the path, I was amazed to find so many of these giant cedars that dominated this area of the forest. The twenty biggest cedars I had ever seen in my life were all growing together in this grove as gargantuan beings. I wonder how long they have been alive for? Certainly before any samurai or shrine.
As I mentioned before, the mountains around me were far too steep to climb, so most of my adventure into the mountains was side by side with rivers, which are remarkably numerous and eerily misty.
Apparently, I had not yet made it to “The” dousugi, and what I found, I found because of my off-trail vagabonding into the Japanese wilderness. So, onward. Wait, probably not this way, though it looks enticing doesn’t it?
It seems you can usually drive a sturdy car all the way to the base of the Dousugi, but at this time, the road was blocked to cars, as there were too many rocks in the road from a landslide.
Ah, here we go, on the correct path to Dousugi.
Well, the road goes on, but alas, this is as far as Gaijin will go today. The setting sun and a grumbling belly beg Gaijin to head back to civilization. Sure, time to head home, but not without a sushi dinner and hour at Kintaro onsen.
This country provides a curve of experience as steep as it’s mountains, and weekly I find new lows as well as new highs. But each substantial high seems to get cooler, and stranger. Regardless of living in a rarely trodden area and possesing relatively low language skills, I am constantly asking more strange questions and pushing the limits of what I can find here; and by kami, they are paying off. The more I push with genuine effort forward, the more this mysterious flower unfolds.
Back to school to grade term final English essays, but also back to my maps to plan Gaijin’s next foray into the Japanese wilderness.