Hi blog.

February continues to be warmer than usual, with some early afternoon temperatures topping out in the mid teens, weather we would normally be expecting a month from now. 

The meteorological department suggests that full bloom for cherry blossoms in the Tokyo area will be March 26th, two weeks earlier than average.  My inner cynic suggests that in the future school terms will start and finish earlier to coincide with blossom – one simply can’t have an entrance ceremony without cherry blossoms.

It was the Sunday of a long weekend.  I decided I wanted to take my new Mont Bell hiking boots for a test run to see where the pressure points were and to start wearing them in.  I also wanted to start preparing for hikes in the summer.  However, I didn’t want to have to actually travel anywhere just to get some walking done, and, with exam season upon us, using public transport was out of the question.

I decided to walk to and around Hachikokuyama, an area I last visited more than 16 years ago.

The trip there was largely uneventful, although my recollection of the correct route was rusty and I found myself too far west of the park.  That was soon corrected.

The Hachikokuyama area is essentially a large park mostly in Higashimurayama, Tokyo, with some overspilling into Tokorozawa.  It’s name is said to come from one being able to see the mountains of eight provinces from the hills.

From the English language site. You can see the two hospitals marked on the map.

Hachikokuyama also overlooks the area where the Battle of Kumegawa and several battles in later times took place, and was the site of an imperial army firing range.  But most importantly, the area provides the model for Shichikokuyama in My Neighbour Totoro.  Two hospitals are found in within the “arch” in the northern section.

This monument was in a small park across the road from Hachikokuyama.

It says so much but tells you so little. I also detest the use of italics for proper nouns.

I was there for the walk, the relative quiet and just the chance to get away from it all.  There were a reasonable number of people, mostly joggers and walkers along the main ridge path and families in the open spaces, but a lot of the time I was alone.  There were plenty of evergreen plants, which gave a feeling of life when most of the trees were still bare.

Fungi on a fallen log.

It’s not hard to see why these are called sarunokoshikake – literally “monkey’s chair”.

I did manage a couple of encounters.  I called by one of the ponds and spotted an egret – probably an intermediate egret – when it dawned on me that I could hear croaking and saw dozens of Japanese toads mating.

An intermediate egret watches me watching it watching me.

One of dozens of toads taking advantage of the relatively warm weather.

I was intrigued by the mention of the remains of a firing range marked on my map, but the access route was closed off.  Never mind, that could wait for another day.  I still had Shogun-Zuka, a hill where Nitta Yoshisada raised his banner and oversaw his troops victory in Kumegawa.  Only the area where the monument stands was closed off for pruning!

There will be another visit in the not too distant future.

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