posted on Monday, September 05, 2005

Nagano


Today I tested my amphibious qualities riding the full day in torrential rain. I said farewell to Yoshimi and Mr Sumeda and soon descending along the steep road I was so soaked that it did not matter anymore! After a while I kind of resigned myself to it and began to enjoy a break from the heat of the past 2 days. I rather felt bad about hardly being able to take pictures. Route 35 particularly after Tsumagoi was really beautiful twisting around lots of steep hills with thick forests of cedars and pines.
Along the winding planes few scattered villages and lots of rice fields painting the landscapes with their fluorescent light greens. After three days spent in the mountains Nagano at first glance was a bit of a shock. Much bigger than I expected with lots of traffic and the usual mess of electric wires and sign boards. My reason to stop here was a visit to Zenko ji a large temple complex built in the 7th century. Ikko Sanzon, the oldest buddhist image to arrive in Japan is held here although only emperors and temple priests have been able to see it! Within the temple compounds is the youth hostel, a small temple itself with traditional tatami rooms, sliding doors and shoji. The lady in charge was very warm and helpful showing me around and preparing our beds in the large dorm that was likely to have been a shrine in the old days. Here I had a chat with Yagi a japanese student from Kobe. I look forward to an early night. In true temple style lights are out at 21.30. Forecast are still gloomy reading and someone mentioned to my shock and horror that typhoon 14 will be arriving. This when I thought that it had been with me for the last 2 days!