My friend and co-worker Mr. Takaaki Futami set out to climb Big Stone mountain in Okabe, Japan. Mr. Futami was raised in this wonderful little patch of heaven which lies surprisingly close to the urban bustle of Shizuoka City yet remains a world apart in terms of lifestyle and an abundance of natural beauty. Mr Futami is PE teacher and full marathon runner who trains for races by running, hiking and climbing along the roads, paths and mountain trails which crisscross his backyard wilderness. He is well known in Okabe by neighbors who are used to seeing him running and training in all seasons and any weather condition.
I felt very fortunate to be invited by Mr. Futami to visit the famous trail which winds up the side of Big Stone mountain. The path we climbed is very old and has been enjoyed by Japanese nature lovers for centuries. The trail winds along the edge of a small stream and through natural stone gardens shaped and arranged by the playful whim of nature. Many of the more interesting stones have been named and small signs are in place to identify each of these. The trail to the mountain passes through some charming old villages and homesteads and there are remnants of mountain agriculture endeavors found in many places along the mountain path.
After we reached the top of the mountain Mr. Futami and I descended down the backside of the mountain where we visited more small villages and had a pleasant chat with a bee farmer who fashions his hives the old way from the hollowed-out stumps of logs. We found several abandoned homes and out-buildings in various states of decay and enjoyed several more hours of exploring a deep valley before we once more climbed Big Stone mountain in order to return home the way we had originally come. I apologize that I have no video footage for the latter half our trip as my camera battery did sadly run dry.
Thank you Mr. Futami for a wonderful day in your beautiful hometown!
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