Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Trip to Moon Mountain: Pictures

Today, I climbed Gassan (I.E. Moon Mountain) along with a group of about 24 people from my village. The event was organized by the village's sports club. After a four-hour bus ride, we arrived at the mountain. We rode a lift past the steepest part so we could begin our journey.

Gassan was beautiful, and the weather made it easy for us to take in all of the delightful scenery available. Located in Yamagata Prefecture, it is one of the three Dewa Mountains (Dewa Sanzan).

On the small board, you can see the kanji that make up Gassan's name: The kanji tsuki, meaning moon, and the kanji yama, meaning mountain.

At the top of the lift, we met a dog (shiba-inu) that proceeded to follow us.

To make it easy for climbers, two paths have been created, so travelers do not create a hazard when passing one another.

Surprisingly, the dog followed us very far up the mountain.

The trek was quite an ordeal, and we had to rest every twenty minutes or so to regain our composure.

By this point, we had climbed roughly 5500 feet.

Yoko-san, one of the organizers and my coworker, was in charge of one of the radios we used to keep our large group in constant contact. I teach one of her children, although there are so many that I cannot remember which one he is.

Although the view was brilliant, I often kept my head down to avoid tripping or slipping.

In the distance, we could make out a city, although I don't know its name.

There's that darn dog again!

If I remember what I wrote in a previous entry, Gassan is the smallest of the Dewa Sanzan. It's also the easiest to access year-round. The weather was so nice that I didn't wear my coat until I reached the summit.

At the top was a small buddhist temple that one could pray in for the low, low price of 500 yen. The summit of the mountain was around 6500 feet, about half the height of Mount Fuji, Japan's most famous mountain.

On our way back down, we passed the site of a former sword forge. Who would want to build a forge at the peak of a mountain?

Gassan has streams running everywhere, and the water is clean and fresh enough to drink from. You can find cups available to the public at small waystations, where you can sample the clear, delicious liquid yourself.

The dog ended up liking our company so much that he also climbed back down the mountain with us. What a trooper!

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