Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kenmin no Mori Walk, Part 3

I'd started my walk from the airport at 11:30 AM, and I'd decided to turn around and head back after 2 hours. But, the park seemed close enough that I kind of pushed my schedule to see if I could at least get to the entrance, first. Of course now that I was here, I felt compelled to go into the park a little ways just to avoid thinking that I'd wasted the trip out. I did want to get back to the apartment before 5 PM, though, and it was edging up on 2:30 PM.

Walking around a particular turn, I reached a picnic area parking lot, and a sign pointing up another set of stairs to a botanical exhibit building. Fortunately, they also had "water closets" here. At the top of the hill was a wood cabin-style building typical of the park rangers buildings in the U.S. Inside was a very friendly lady who helped me figure out the shortcut for getting back to the park entrance. We talked for about 15 minutes and I ended up giving her a short English lesson.

(Garden in back of the botanical exhibit building.)

In the building was a room that displayed samples of lots of different plants. Two things caught my eye immediately.

First was the display case that seemed to contain lots of honey. Actually, these are all labeled as sake, made using various botanicals.

(More sake. The storage boxes under the table are Kirin beer crates.)

The second thing was the wasp's nest. I do not like wasps. I'd gotten stung by a paper wasp in the back of the neck once when I was a teenager. I didn't enjoy it.

Then I headed back. Along the way, the dogs leashed up at different farms all enjoyed barking at me loudly. It's said that animals in different countries all speak with their own accents, and the Japanese sound for a dog barking is "wan wan". So, I listened carefully this time, but it just kept sounding like "arf" to me.

At one point, I reached a sign that read "budou-gari". Since "budou" is "grape", I was hoping that it meant that a winery was nearby. So I turned and walked down the side road. The sign had said "0.5 kilometer", and I was getting to the point of turning around when I finally got to the next sign, which also included "ichigo-gari". Now, "ichigo" is "strawberry", and I realized that the "-gari" was just "pick your own". And, because I couldn't see the entrance to the fields from where I was standing, I decided to head back again. However, I was at a crossroad, and the road behind me (opposite from the budou-gari road) promised to be kind of a shortcut. So, I started that way, and after a block the road turned left, but instead of taking me back to the first "budou-gari" sign, I found myself entering a little tree-lined path that began hugging the wrong side of a valley. After another 6 blocks, it came out on a different street, much, much earlier than expected, and it was indeed a shortcut. Up ahead looked to be the expressway.

I started along what I thought was a recognized street in what I thought was the right direction. But, I wasn't sure, and nearby was an older couple getting into their car. So I yelled to them "is the airport this way?" And the woman shook her head, looking confused, and pointing the opposite direction. She started giving me instructions, and because it was so complicated and far away by foot, finally just said, "can we give you a ride there?" Hoping that this wasn't a major inconvenience, and that they didn't mind having a sweaty stranger in their car, I said "ok". Again, the people were very friendly, and again I ended up giving them a short English lesson.

From where I'd been, it looked to be another 1.5 - 2 hours to the airport. But, almost immediately we passed the entrance to the library, and it was only 5 minutes total before I was back at my starting point. Cars are nice. I like cars. I don't like wasps. I really, really wish I had a good bicycle again.

Recap: 2.5 hours out. 1 hour in the park. 45 minutes back.

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