Tsuki-ga-sei-guchi 月が瀬口 to Kasagi 笠置
Tim was in the Kansai to play a gig with Nara musician, Roman Rhodes. Miki and I did a hike nearby, following the TSH along the Kizu River. We got off the train at Tsuki-ga-Seiguchi, stepping onto a platform built excessively long due to the old SL trains that once travelled this valley. The first bit of our walk was along a moderately trafficked road, going past dams and a nuclear power plant. Beyond this we entered the forest, below Buddhas and Jizo carved into stone. The mountains down here feel particularly ancient. Near one bend in the river we heard the voice of what I thought may have been a bear cub, my heart stopping immediately. We didn't see anything, but it was probably some just kind of waterfowl. The trail took us up to a nice little village, where an old woman made her way gingerly and deliberately to pull weeds at the side of her garden. Atop the hill was yet another shrine connected to Amaterasu. The river became narrow and wild here, its length easily traversed by hopping large boulders all the way down. The last couple km were right next to the iron rails we'd ridden on that morning. At the far end we came to Kusagi, where the rafters finish their runs of the white water. On the table beside the sand were a dozen tea bottles, clustered around a 3D model of the river's course. The stone banks further down were covered by the tents of those enjoying the long weekend. A festival had just finished up in the village itself, dozens of kids now running around a mikoshi laid on its side, its carriers downing yet another sake round for their labor. Miki went home, but I met up with Tim and Roman, for our own parade of the Kyo's many Irish pubs.