A thin layer of snow had settled over night giving me the perfect excuse in which to build some snowmen. I hated how cold it was in the mountains yet the sight of my snowmen over breakfast gave me some warmth and encouragement.
The 8km climb up to Yumoto Park today from my guesthouse was a relatively gruelling uphill ascent. Thankfully I was travelling light with my luggage remaining at my guesthouse. My uphill monologue normally going a little something like this: ‘F*&king s%$%”y w^&k, p*ss, c*&t b**%%$k m£$f, why the f*%k am I doing this? What kind of mug am I?’ And that’s even a toned down version as not to offend anyone’s Mum. But it also has to be said that I quite often offend myself with the physical assault of words that ascend fourth from my wretched tongue to the point that I want to kick my own head in. Physical exertion can quite simply bring the worst out of one at times.
It would take me roughly an hour to reach Yumoto Park and my arrival would see my attitude switch to a complete and utter polar opposite from that of my former moments of disgruntlement. ‘Ah wow, this is brilliant, life is great, I love you world, you have nice hair…’ etc, etc.
In Yumoto Park one can find Sesshoseki, aka ‘The Murder Stone.’ A stone shrouded in various legend, the most intriguing being the story of the 9-tailed fox. Back before you dear reader and I unequal scum were born, some 800 years ago in fact, it is said that a 9-tailed fox roamed the lands, a fox that traversed through both India and China bringing havoc and mayhem to anyone that crossed its path, the fox would eventually make landfall in Japan. Here the fox would disguise itself as a beautiful young lady and try to seduce the emperor, but the evil foxes plan was foiled by a wise fortune teller and it was chased into the mountain of Nasu-Dake by 80,000 troops where it was eventually slain. Here its soul would turn into stone. The stone was one full of anger and rage and monks would often prey to the stone to try and calm the evil spirit within, a spirit so hate-fuelled that the stone which bore the foxes soul would eventually crack releasing poisonous gases. Anyone that ventured to close to the stone would instantly be struck dead by its deadly vapours.
Today the stone is cordoned off and it is said that the gases emitted are only strong enough to kill that of small mammals and birds that venture too close to it. The pale grey stone and surrounding ground strewn yellow with sulphur, in the air the egg-like sulphur stench was present from surrounding vents and hot springs. In my presence the fox lay dormant, today death would not be on the agenda, always a pleasure.
Observing the Murder Stone an ice cold wind straight out of the depths of a cold, hard winter swept through the valley making me shudder. Again, snow would begin to fall. I looked up past a forest of leafless trees toward Sanbonyari peak, the highest point of Nasu-Dake at some 1,917m, it’s once snow covered peak now gloomy and smothered in a dark and ominous foray of cloud cover. On this day I had no need to be up there, no need at all. The cold wind was a selling point for me to descend the mountain back to my guesthouse, a journey of which’s uncomfortable bumpy descent would only see me take a mere 17 minutes as opposed to the previous hour long uphill trudge. If only when life is metaphorically going downhill it could be as much fun. But it just isn’t…is it?
Back at my guesthouse my Snowmen were dead.
Today: 9.7miles (15.61m)
ODO – 582.7miles (937.76km)