We are showing you the Global version of our site: would you prefer a different location?
Part1 - Kitayama
Today the lads are my guests, I’m proud to give them a sample of the some my favourite roads. I will take them on a loop through Miyama, which is deep in Kitayama. Mountains which continue all the way north to the Japan Sea, ridge after ridge like a herringbone blanket tossed across the landscape. We take an easy way out of town following the Kamo river upstream. The river, a shallow but swift flowing stream, clear and translucent, fish and fowl are plentiful. It’s wide banks in town play host to many form of recreation including our two wheeled ambulation.
Within a short time we leave behind the numerous houses, streets and cars and find ourselves among endless stands of slender, strong and silent cedar trees. A slow cadence as we find our rhythm, a still chill in the air as we go from sunlight to shade meandering up the forested valley. In a schoolyard hang some lonely unicycles, no sign or sound of kids. Across the road a small tori gate dwarfed by massive trees marks the entrance to a local shrine.
The size of these trees seem incongruous with all others in the valley. During the Pacific War almost all of the country was denuded of trees in order to supply energy. There were trees within the grounds of shrines and temples which were considered sacred and thus spared the axe. They continue to grow and many are hundreds of years old. Since the 1950’s all hillsides have been replanted and vast swathes of conifer and broadleaf forest cover all the hills and mountains.( Kitayama is renown throughout Japan for a particular cedar tree which is used as the central and ornamental pillar in traditional homes)
In short time, above us is our first pass for the day, Mochi-Koshi toge, a cheeky climb, 200 meters in 1.5 km. As we begin the climb we pass a bent backed woman chopping and gathering wood. She is someones great grandmother and we all admire her tenacity and she is bewildered by our recreation. In short raspy breath we attack the climb and from the pass we look back down on the village, from this vantage point everything looking miniature like a scale model. Onward we push, to swoop down into another valley and flow with the contours of the river. On either side of the road are small lumber mills processing the trunks, stripping away the bark, exposing the raw, gnarled wood. Not smooth but rutted and rough, as if a giant had picked each one and left his finger prints embedded into the trunk surface. It is this characteristic that gives each long post a certain beauty and value.
Countless trees standing, exposed trunks reaching high, topped like a green hairy lollipop, a weird symmetry that is so unnatural yet beautiful. Patches of broad leaf species, just bearing buds and new leaves offer a myriad shades of green. This natural carpet is so verdant so vibrant, soothing the eyes and easing away any pain one might expect while moving the pedals in our own symmetrical way.