An Autumn Outing
November 3, 2022
Dear Family and Friends,
Kaminoyama is a small spa town in Yamagata Prefecture. It is not too far from Sendai. Izumi’s husband’s family has a medical clinic there, so he knows the area well. This week the autumn leaves there are at their peak. So, Yoshiki thought it would be nice to to take a trip to immerse ourselves in this season’s glory.
Even though Yoshiki’s family obviously has a house in Kaminoyama, we opted to stay in a hotel. More privacy and better baths, even an outdoor one on the roof. As an aside, curiously many of the staff, including those at the check-in counter, were foreigners, five from Nepal. Actually, that is becoming more common now in Japan. Izumi thinks that is one reason many of the hotels now rely on machines for much of their front desk responsibilities.
We started our stay with a bath and then headed into the town for dinner. We went to an “izakaya”. It was a place for drinking and eating a bit of this and a bit of that. Of course, we indulged.
Our trip the following day was to the Nagai-i Dam. After it was built, it redirected water from the mountain, collecting in some areas, but flowing through narrow, high gorges in others. Since the scenery is so dramatic and lovely, it is called 神の絶景, Splendor of the Gods.
Clever locals run boat tours there from spring through the autumn. Izumi had been there with friends in the summer, when the water was very high and the views lush green. She loved it and wanted to see it in the autumn, when she felt it would be even more impressive.
It was indeed gorgeous. The surrounding mountains were a subdued copper, interspersed with large patches of dark pine green. On the river, however, the colors brightened considerably with rust reds and vivid yellows. In some places the gorge was so narrow that trees were horizontal above us and our boat could barely get through.
The trip took a little over an hour. So, we had time to head to Nanyo Town for their annual Chrysanthemum Festival. What an amazement it was. Displays ranged from small Bonsai
to specimens as tall as Izumi with enormous flowers bursting like fireworks or bowing like huge round heads.
We wandered slowly, appreciating everything, including the chrysanthemum historical figures.
We had a very lovely day, even though it snowed to the north of us and in the morning North Korean missiles flew to the west. That caused high alert warning on our cellphones. But we continued our day as planned. We were lucky that we could. And appreciative of every minute of beauty and joy we were privileged to receive.