Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obscured by Clouds

I seriously think I've been bewitched by a fox. I've been stumbling around this pass engulfed by clouds, trying to find my way down. There are supposed to be inspiring views of Osaka from up here, but I can't even find the trail. As I search, I think of a quote from Weston's "Mountaineering and Exploration in the Japanese Alps:" 'We viewed the mist but missed the view.'

Earlier on, I'd rested at a shrine which has been standing sentinel over a bend in the river for 600 years. It was deserted and a little broken down. On the way in, I'd startled a rabbit that was the size of a small dog. The foundation of the shrine was rotting away in a few places and some of the shoji was torn. To add to the haunted feel of the place were all the jizo stacked up the base of the steps, gray-faced reminders of pilgrims who'd died here. I sat under the eaves to keep the rain off. Above me were carvings of a Warring States Period battle that had been fought near here. Across the yard was a small cave in the cliff face, where a Jizo that had apparently been buried in a land slide and was now dug out. The rain kept up but I wasn't in a hurry. Yet I suddenly became aware of strange cracks and bangs coming from the shrine's adjoining house, despite it's obvious emptiness. I hurried then through the gate, toward the pass growing more and more lost in the clouds.

The trail markers on the way up were prevalent, but at the top they let me down. The pass is overmarked with too many signs marking too many trails, and I couldn't figure out mine. I pick one, a narrow paved path overhung with trees. I can't see a reason for the concrete other than as a way to make it convenient for those who want to dump all their trash down the hillsides. I finally shake off the spell and confirm that this is the right path. But as the rain keeps up, there is little to see but for the odd Jizo, a few hamlets huddled on hillsides, and the graves that give the dead a better view than the living...

On the turntable: Rory Gallagher, "Studio L"

On the nighttable: William Scott Wilson, "Yojokun"

On the reeltable: "Once Upon a Time in the West" (Leone, 1968)

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