Thursday, September 24, 2009
Feel the season
The Japanese basically never take paid leave from work (due to a big cultural difference in which "not letting the team down" is a major part of their work ethic), but they do have a fine selection of public holidays -- usually one per month, but sometimes clumped together in bunches, as in Golden Week's four on the trot in May, or Silver Week's three in a row, which was this week just past.
So with a five-day weekend in hand (well, actually only four for me, because I had to work on Saturday for my school's festival, but that's another story altogether), Mirabel and I ventured out of Sendai, going by bus, train, and another bus to Bandai, a beautiful mountain/lake town in Fukushima.
Bandai as we know it was created only a hundred or so years ago (1888 to be precise) by a massive volcanic eruption that killed 461 people, buried several nearby villages and created the lakes that surround the mountain today. So a pretty major natural force, but one that created a stunning spot for a bit of camping.
Welcome to Matsubara Camp Jo.
We walked, we kayaked, we ate and drank, we read and knitted, we saw the stars and had constellations pointed out to us by the amazing camp owner on a boat, we saw moths as big as your hand, we ate s'mores (I now know what a Graeme cracker is), we were warm during the day and we froze at night, we played table tennis, we barbecued, we had a very nice time basically.
One of the big attractions at Bandai is the Goshikinuma -- the five coloured lakes -- a series of very small lakes which have been turned brilliant greens and blues by the volcanic activity of the mountain. Some of the lower leaves you can see have been turned white by the water.
And on the last day we discovered an amazing and entirely unexpected little modern art gallery with a very extensive Salvador Dali collection (apparently 332 works!), as well as paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and Matisse, among others. Quite a find, really, considering we had no idea of its existence beforehand!
Also, on our way to Bandai we met this guy:
Awesome! Weekend complete.