Yamasaki Done and Dusted.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that was a long time without a post.

In my defence, I have been in a lot of pain. Allow me to explain.

This weekend I was convinced by the very persuasive and charismatic Brindley to buy an Air Soft gun.

For those not in the know, these are replica guns that use a motor or gas to fire BB pellets. You use them like paintball guns and go out into the woods somewhere to shoot your mates.

Not only did Brindley convince me to buy a gun he convinced me to play (which justified the expense of the gun somewhat) and this weekend me and bunch of others got dragged up a mountain in Hanayama to shoot each other.

All was well until Brindley suggested a game called sentry. The gist of which is that nobody has a gun except the sentry, and the sentry has a slow loading bolt action rifle. The sentry walks between 2 points defending a target. Everyone else has to touch this target.

Now there are 2 ways to do achieve this. The difficult but enticing method is to try and sneak up to the target, avoiding the sentry and get close enough to touch the target. The also difficult but probably more effective way is to just leg it anytime the sentry pauses to aim.If he isn’t aiming at you, and you jump around, he’s going to have a hard time aiming at you.

I tried to do the latter and forgot, in my mad dash to to the target, that I WAS ON A BLOODY MOUNTAIN!!!!

Basically as I ran downhill my top half began to go a lot, lot faster than my bottom half and I was faced with 2 options. 1, fall over and roll down a rocky, steep mountain. 2, aim for a tree.

I aimed for the tree.

It hurt.

Quite a lot.

Still does.

But worry not, nothing is broken, I can move fine and the pain is subsiding, hence my typing this tonight. But yeah, for the last few days my urge to blog has been overrun by my urge to lie on my couch and moan softly.

So here, at last is the long awaited conclusion to what I did the weekend before I decided to fall into a tree at high speed.

Having breezed through the more exciting parts of the trip here’s the rest of it. There isn’t much.

Having played with a spider and watched a man flush a toilet we decided to head back down the mountain to a waterfall shrine.

Waterfalls are considering purifying in Shinto. Adepts used to stand underneath them and attempt to meditate whilst enduring the cold and discomfort. Consequentially nearly every waterfall in Japan has a small shrine set up. Usually this is rubbish. When I went to Kyoto a few weeks ago the guidebook advised me to head off to a waterfall shrine connected to a famous temple I was visiting. I was promised something out of the ordinary, something most tourists never see and something beautiful. I got a drainpipe.

No, I’m being serious, a drainpipe. After an exceedingly long and difficult hike we finally got up the mountain to find a small and very mucky shrine next to a drain pipe trickling some water. Clearly from the shape of the valley there used to be a waterfall here and one day it had dried up. But not content to let visitors down some natty monks had set up some kind of drainpipe to give the illusion of a waterfall. It was crap. Admittedly the view back down the valley was gorgeous but it was a big let down.

The waterfall shrine in Yamasaki was far from crap.

For starters it was a proper waterfall, tall, real water and with a proper river still flowing down the mountainside. It even had a little pool at its base that turned into a second smaller waterfall. And it was in a wonderfully leafy, scenic setting that was totally quiet. It was one of those moments where you think you’ve stepped into another world. Like you’ve somehow stepped away from Modern Japan with its constant background noise, smog, crowds and ugly, ugly technology and into the past.

The point about the ugly technology is true by the way. Japanese culture is obsessed with nature. All those ceremonies and mystic arts are all about finding a balance with nature. Ikebana, tea ceremony, Shinto, bonsai it’s all about communication with nature. Most schools have a small pond to allow some natural beauty into the space. But then if given the opportunity to entire spoil something beautiful with a great big lump of metal they don’t think twice. In the cities where the sheer mass of buildings, signs, adverts and exposed machinery and structures means you can’t see anything but meal and concrete its all very impressive and strangely beautiful. But out in the, frankly stunning, Japanese countryside it can be very annoying.

This is not a habit confined to the Japanese by the way, in fact they do a much better job of preserving scenic beauty than say, America or England. Its just more noticeable because it seems so contradictory.

Anyway this waterfall had none of that. It was idyllic and lovely and we stayed for quit a while, not doing much except admiring the place.

Oh and we played pooh sticks. I won.

When we finally got bored of that we went to a restaurant called “Joy Full” and Steve regaled us of the tale of his friend. A man that would rise at 3 am just to come and sit in Joy Full and drink coffee, everyday. This bloke was English and was so ratty looking he was, on more than one occasion, mistaken for a tramp by locals.

Inside Joy Full they had a big advert demonstrating 2 different ways you could order a hamburger and chicken. One had it smothered under tomato sauce and cheese, the other had it with a fried egg on top with rice and some teriyaki. The advert read “ITALY VS JAPAN”.

Now Japan, I love your food but honestly, who are you trying to kid.

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