This is where I live. If you squint hard, you can see my house.
I’ve been looking out across the valley every morning for the past 9 months. My ambition has been to walk around along the river that winds its way from a lake up in the mountains to meet the Myohoji river. I tried it once, only to find my way blocked by Japan’s obsession with turning every riverbank into concrete.
Yesterday I finally took that walk. The sun was bright, the sky blue, the heat of the day cooled by a gentle breeze. With rucksack on my back, and camera around my neck, I explored the plain. No longer were the allotments small parcels of barely perceptible land I see from my bedroom window. They were full of vegetables and fruit, even the occasional farmer tending their crops. The green velvet clinging to the slopes opposite my house became bamboo woods. Hidden amongst them was the temple, whose bell sounds out at 6 o’clock, whether morning or night. Houses tucked away on mountain sides. An old motorbike left so long the hillside is absorbing it.
For a couple of hours, it was just me, the landscape and the camera. There was nothing to demand my attention but the beauty of my surroundings, and the occasional commitment to a shot. All the worries and stresses accumulated over the past few weeks evaporated in the sunshine. I could breathe again.
There is more to explore. New tracks to follow, and roads to walk. Construction work on the concrete riverbanks rumbles on, almost two months behind schedule. I assume the unusually wet summer we’ve had slowed them down. Perhaps they’ll finish by Christmas.
Before then the trees will turn from green to red. Once again I’ll venture out and explore a different path, find a new way to cross the river plain.
Maybe I will finally reach the lake that feeds the river.