On long weekends in Japan, the crowds are usually unbearable. Everybody goes to the same places and same seasonal events. Traffic is awful, and the roads are always congested. We knew that but nonetheless still head out for a plum-blossom festival in the mountains of Saitama. The small town is far away from the big cities, but the parking lot was still filled with tour buses. What did we do? We kept driving.
We tried to find the Kuroyama Santaki waterfall, but the access road was blocked by construction crews and closed for the season. Do we sneak in? Too many people. Ryuonji temple in Ogose-machi was supposedly nearby so that is where we headed. The roads were nothing more than gravel spread to create a single lane. Guard rails were few and far between, but the drop would have been scary if I had looked down. Without all the crowds, the beauty of nature and the general calm could be more appreciated. Missed the festival but that was okay. The beauty of a temple that is hundreds of years old among tall cedars is not to be missed.
We stumbled upon the Yamaneko café. In the middle of the mountains of Saitama is a café started by a married couple who worked as a photographer and a copy writer in Tokyo. They left the big city for rural life. They created this gallery and café where their friends could have shows or give concerts.
These are just a few of the photos I took that day. The one where the profile of the temple tower gate fills the left half o the photo and streams of sunlight are on the right is one of my favourites. The mountain stream reminds me of Ansel Adams, and the ghostly trees around the cafe fascinate me. What do you think of them? What is your favourite photo of the bunch?