Sunday, November 15, 2009


This picture was in the newspaper the other day and I wanted to share it with you. This is called Irohazaka, a series of twists and turns up the side of the mountain not too far from us. At the top of the mountain is a wonderful scenic lake, hiking courses and ski areas. We get up to the lake area a couple of times a year.

Nowadays there is a one way road going up the mountain (probably this one) and another one way road going back down the mountain and everything is well-graded with guard rails etc. Not so in days of past and my mother still talks of our visit to Japan 40 years ago when the tour buses drove both up AND down this one road. Big buses trying to maneuver the curves, buses that had to back up to let other buses around, tour guides with their whistles that directed the drivers as to when to stop (in order not to fall off the cliffs), passengers with height phobias having heart palpitations at the view of the overhang and cliffs (and cars) below. If you look at the second picture you can see the man made piles holding the road to the cliff. I always wonder how sturdy those are... Earthquakes you know...

I don't find this drive so daunting except for the number of cars that are still going up and down the mountain at this time of year to enjoy the autumn scenery. If you look closely at the first picture you can see ALL the hundreds of cars backed up on the road waiting to arrive at the mountain top. Hard on the brakes and the clutch pedals.

Speaking of brakes, there was one year when our family (plus dog) went up for a day at the lake and as we came down the mountain and reached level ground, smoke started pouring from the front of the car. Tetsu stopped that car fast, ordered us all out of the car and pulling the dog with us we all backed far away from the car in case it decided to explode. It didn't and a quick check found that Tetsu had been riding the brakes so much during the trip down that the rubber was burning! We were backed up to a mountainside and there was a little stream of water coming from the cracks and so the four of us started collecting water in soft drink cans and dog bowls to splash over the burning tires. I also remember someone stopping, not to ask if they could help, but to ask what kind of fantastic spring water we had found and wondering if they should collect water to take home too... Uh. I wouldn't recommend it. Tetsu has never lived down his brake riding.

The only other memory I have of Irohazaka is not really mine. When Takumi was in high school he had a motorcycle (another story. He wasn't supposed to have a motorcycle). One weekend he proudly announced that he and his friends had ridden up and down Irohazaka that day on their motorcycles. I was SO glad he told me that after the fact! All those curves and turns.! A motorcyclist's dream! Tetsu felt we could hardly expect our motorcycle riding son to NOT go up Irohazaka when it is only 30 minutes away from us. I'm glad he lived to tell us.

(Pictures from the Internet.)

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