Thursday, August 13, 2009

Takenouchi Kaido

The heat had come back. And with it, David Attenborough. When the simple act of making a decision caused me to break a sweat, I returned to my tried and true method of beating the heat: watching the BBC documentary, 'Blue Planet.' The underwater photography creates a psychological feeling of coolness, as if you yourself are underwater.

Deciding then that all the sitting around contained the risk of my taking on the size of the cetaceans drifting across my TV screen, it was time for a walk.

I chose the Takenouchi Kaidō, which is just north of the Katsuragi Kaido that I had walked in June. I left the train in one of those bedroom towns that are the cul-de-sac of dreams. Today was the official start to Obon, and the few people I passed were gearing up for the holiday, carrying flowers and decorating graves and jizo. At the corner in front of a school was a makeshift site with flowers, drinks, and two crossed baseball bats. I'm guessing that a child had been hit by a car here, poor thing.

The town seemed to take great pride in this Kaido, which goes back to the year 613. There were frequent stone markers and, like other old Osaka roads, the asphalt was a different color than usual, making it very easy to follow. In fact it followed a different route than that in my guidebook, one that mercifully kept me off of busy roads for the most part. It led me out of the new town and climbed a narrow road lined on both sides with Edo-style homes that had probably been inns for travelers. Above this was a small museum with displays on the Kaidō's history.

Leaving the 19th Century, I came to the inevitable busy road that I was forced to follow up and over the pass. It was a dismal hour, but for the stones and Buddhas at the top. Just below, I passed a guy dressed like a civil servant, wearing the wrong shoes and holding a newspaper close to his face like he was on the train. A couple times a year I'll come across people like this, who look suspiciously out of place, and it spooks me every time.

Once on the other side of the pass I was in Edo again. There was a small museum to Basho, who had also walked this route. The banana tree in the garden was a nice touch. At the bottom of the road was a magical forest. I expected to find a shrine under the dark trees, but there was none. Bizarre, this ancient grove in the middle of prime suburban real estate.

As if on cue, the valley in front of me was fast filling with storm. The Katsuragi peaks looked their part as the lair of wizards. As I waited for my train, I felt that this road, despite its age, had been minor, though it served as a nice 2 hour diversion. And here at the end of this post, I feel like I have nothing new to add; these walks are starting to get more and more similar. There was the usual busy road, the obligatory beautifully maintained street, the typical confusion.

It was at that moment that I saw the Tengu...

On the turntable: Miles Davis, "Complete Miles at Montreaux"
On the nighttable: Frederik L. Schodt, "Native American in the Land of the Shogun"
On the reel table: "Lagaan" (Gowaricker, 2001) 

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