Inawashiro-Ko located in Bandai-Asahi National Park in Fukushima.
This summer’s Golden Week holiday has passed. My family took a trip to Yonezawa, the hometown of my wife. Yonezawa is a mere 41km northwest of Fukushima City. Namie, where the Daiichi Nuclear Facility, and three nuclear reactors melted down, and which are currently continuing to contaminate the Pacific Ocean is only 55km (34 miles) east of Fukushima City. Namie is 88.9km from Yonezawa. It’s only one stop by way of the Tsubasa Shinkansen from Fukushima to Yonezawa; that’s about a fifteen-minute train ride from station to station. Our home in Yokohama is 312km south of that particular location.
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There were several events that coincided on this particular holiday. The first being the seventh year since my wife’s grandmother passed away. This is an important date, as the first, third, and seventh years are marked with specific traditional matters that family members partake in when a relative passes away, such as the family going to the Hoji (cemetery), to pay their respect by offering food, incense, and prayers. This would be the first of this kind of event that I had participated in. On that day, my wife’s family arrived from all over Japan. In the evening we ate a fantastic dinner that my wife’s parents had chefs prepare at a local traditional restaurant, and delivered to their home.
I got to meet nearly all of my wife’s extended family for the first time, including her grandmother who is 86 years old. She lives in Iwaki, which was nearly wiped out by the tsunami of 3.11.11. Iwaki is also located near the Daini nuclear facility, which was shutdown after it was struck by tsunami waves. Daini was the nuclear plant that was originally thought to be the one that would wreak the most havoc for the nation, and an industry that has such a deplorable track record for operational safety, and which has clearly been proven that shouldn’t exist. I was reminded of this again last week as the Red Forest that surrounds the Chernobyl nuclear disaster area caught fire, and put back into the atmosphere high levels of radiation that sat dormant in the trees of that forest for the past twenty-nine years. Ah, but I digress… I’m discussing something that everyone has seemingly forgotten about, and of course, what one can’t see, hear, or taste, can’t hurt them. Right? At least not immediately, some would say.
The family event described above occurred on May 4th, which was sixteen months to the day that my son was born. The next day was May 5th, another important notable holiday in Japan. May 5th is celebrated as Kokomo No Hi, or Boy’s Day. My wife’s parents had carp kites waving in the breeze at the entrance of their home, and had purchased an expensive samurai armor set for our son, which is now on display in their prayer room. Both are required things to do when a boy has been born into a family. On Boy’s Day, we took our son to Uesugi Jinja Shrine, which is walking distance from my wife’s family home. The last time we walked there was in the heat of winter, and the snow was stacked over our heads. (How’d you like that, the “heat” of winter?)
There are numerous things to do at Uesugi Jinja Shrine, as it’s very large, beautiful, and quite famous. One of the main events held there annually is the Uesugi Yuki Toro Matsuri (Yonezawa Snow Festival), which happens on the second weekend in February of each year. I’ve attended the festival a few times. It’s quite surreal, and very cold. The snow is piled high, hundreds of lamps made of snow occupy the entire temple, and the temperature is always below zero. I’ve had the best amazaki (warm sweet rice sake) at this festival. I don’t like sake, but I could drink a gallon of that concoction. Unfortunately, it’s only available during the festival. It’s really is that good! Makes me wonder what all the fuss is over eggnog?
Yonezawa: Uesugi Jinja Shrine
At Uesugi Jinja Shrine there was a festival underway. Ironically, the weather was much warmer than in Yokohama, although the surrounding mountains were still blanketed in a bit of snow. We saw paper lanterns that little boys from the local community had made. Our son got to play in a water fountain located at the main entrance with my wife’s sister, who adores him. He really enjoyed splashing around in the water, as the photos attest to. He then crashed a Gomo Kusukue booth, but the operator didn’t seem to mind. I got some great shots of him entirely mesmerized by the artificial water current that move hundreds of little toys in a circular pattern. Gomo Kusukue are quite popular with little children who use small nets to try, and scoop one of the gleaming treasures up with. If they catch one, they get to keep it. Out son also got to feed carp (koi) with the aid of a bag of rice that my wife’s father had prepared for this purpose. My wife’s family has been in the rice business for decades, and after eating the rice that he sends us. I quickly discovered that there is a great gulf fixed between rice that is hand selected by an expert, and that, which is sold at the markets. It’s probably akin to trying to explain night, and day to someone who has never seen either. This was the first time our son got to feed fish. However, he was more interested in the pigeons that were snatching up the rice that fell to the ground.
Yamagata: Omoshiro Yama Kogen
On the next day we drove to Yamadera, which is where the famous national treasure, Yamadera Temple is located. This mountaintop temple sits on top of the mountains that separate Yamagata from Sendai. The views from the top are fantastic, and the air quite refreshing.
At Yamadera, we parked, and ate lunch at one of the town’s fine restaurants. We then boarded a train to get to the next stop, which is further into the mountains. We accidentally took a rapid train, which passed our destination. All I could do was look out the window at the waterfall that most people had never noticed on their commutes between Yamagata, and Sendai.
We ended up at a tiny town called Sakunami, which is where the famous Nikka Whisky Company originated. We had an hour to kill before the next train arrived, so we got to learn about the company’s founders. A Japanese man named Masataka Taketsuru had gone to Scotland to study at a university. There he met, and eventually married a young woman named Jessie Roberta, a native of Scotland. The couple returned to Japan where the woman supported her husband’s desire to start an alcoholic beverage company. This was in 1920, at a time when prohibition was in full swing in the U.S. It must have been a sight for sore eyes for the local people to see Taketsuru return with a blond woman from Europe as his bride. Especially, considering Sakunami was in the middle of the undeveloped mountains, and in an entirely remote area cut off from any western influence. The community remains that way, even today. The mountain water in that area is so pure that it can be drunk straight from the river. The beautifully maintained Nikka facility still exists as well, and offers tours, and free samplings of their most sought after products. As I stood waiting on the train platform to head to our original destination, I thought how fleeting life is. That “odd” couple made a business that eventually thrived. They prospered from their vision, and their products continue to win prestigious international awards. It’s ironic that the Taketsuru’s are no longer here to witness the fruits of their labor. To learn more about the Taketsuru’s go to the following link: http://nikka.com/eng/founder/index.html.
We exited the train at Omoshiro Yama Kogen. While my wife changed the boy’s diaper, her sister practiced Hawaiian hula dancing she recently became enamored with. A man in the restaurant apparently took notice, came out, and joined in. So it is in Japan, at least when one manages to escape the entrapments of urban life. People outside of the large cities are generally very kind, and curious. Almost childlike! We learned that this man, who’s name I have already forgotten, had recently undergone back surgery, and was proud to show us how rapidly he had been recuperating. We talked a bit, and then it was time to head to the waterfall, walk along the pristine river, and hike around a bit before heading back to Yamadera to watch the sun set at the top of the mountain temple. Our new friend continued to hula dance back toward the restaurant that his life long friend owned.
During winter, Omoshiro Yama Kogen becomes a snow skiing nirvana for locals. It’s off the beaten path, and only a hop, skip, and a jump from Yamagata, or Sendai. One can literally step off of the local train in their snow boots, exit the tiny station, and step right onto a lift that goes to the top of the mountain. All for a mere 410 ¥. I first discovered Omoshiro Yama Kogen purely by accident several years ago when I was on my way to Sendai. I happened to look out the window, at the right moment, spotting a waterfall in the valley far below. It was only a split second that I got a glimpse of the water cascading down the side of the mountain. The following weekend I went back to investigate. It turned out to be one of my favorite places in Japan. I’ve traveled to Omoshiro Yama Kogen several times when I lived in Yamagata; winter, spring, summer, and fall. It’s incredibly beautiful, and unspoiled, as few people even realize that it’s even there. The trail along the river leads through the mountains, and back to Yamadera. It’s something that everyone who visits Japan should experience. It certainly will leave a better impression as to what had once been the true Japanese way, other than the westernized offerings of Harajuku, Shinjuku, or Yokohama. I took some great shots of my son with a couple different waterfalls in the background at Omoshiro Yama. Soon enough though, the sun began to dip below the mountains, so it was time to head back to Yamadera.
Omoshiro Yama Kogen in Yamagata Prefecture.
Yamagata: Yamadera Temple’s Thousand Steps
When we arrived at the steps to the entrance of the temple, it was already closed. My wife, and sister tried to prevent me from entering. (There’s nothing but a small sign, written in Japanese that says the steps are closed. There are no gates, locks, or security to prevent one from entering.) I can’t read Japanese, and told them that, which they already knew. But they could! I told them, “I only wanted to look around the first turn.” So, I took their photo at the entrance, and off I went, knowing full well, I wasn’t about to drive all the way from Yonezawa, and return without trekking to the top. My wife said, “What if you told our son not to do something, and he did it anyway?”
There are a thousand steps or so to reach the top of the mountain. This gave me plenty of time to reflect on what my wife had asked regarding our son. I concluded that if he ignored something that I told him not to do, and had a legitimate reason to do so, then he was discovering the power of autonomy, and therefore, it would not be improper for him to use his own cognitive skills in determining how to proceed. I also thought that if his reasoning was skewed, ignoring me would be unjustified. In that, I felt justified in ignoring a sign that I couldn’t read anyway, and as far as I was concerned, shutting off access to such a location during the best light of the day was most unjust. This is one thing that really perturbs me about Japan, the often illogic of how things are done. A cursory inspection of the Yamadera photos I took on that evening made me quite pleased that I didn’t go home empty handed. Actually, in defense of the indefensible, I’ve walked past that sign at least three other times in the past, at sunset, never realizing that the temple was closed.
There are numerous sights to discover at the top of Yamadera. Some of the shrines were built into the cliffs hundreds of years ago, and had not been destroyed during the Warring State Period, most likely because of its rural location, and strategic location at the top of the mountain. What most people don’t know when they are visiting most of Japan’s castles is that they were rebuilt for tourism purposes. The facts that nearly all of Japan’s castles were burnt down after the particular daimyo that ruled over it was defeated by a rival clan. The Maruoka Castle is the oldest castle in Japan to survive that era. It’s located in Fukui, where I lived during my first year in Japan. Maruoka Castle was built in 1576. The Inuyama main tenshu began construction in 1601, and was finally completed in 1620. One of the most infamous, yet “true” samurai tales took place in Fukui, and it tells of the destruction of one of those Japanese castles, destroyed by a technology that had never before been seen in the east. Samurai, not with swords, but with rifles attacked the Asakura clan in Ichijodani. Needless to say, the Asakura clan were slaughtered. Today, all that remains is the gate of the once towering structure. Everyone inside was brutally executed, as swords were no match to the new form of weaponry, as those that had vowed to protect those they had united with would discover. After the siege, as usual, the castle was razed. This was the death null to an era where swords were used to determine the outcome of disputes. The Locales photo gallery at my website, http://stackjones.com has a photo of the Asakura gate covered in snow. Ironically, I discovered it, and Ichijodani as I had much of Japan, which was purely by accident.
I was new in Fukui, and had a few days off from work, so I decided to drive to Tojinbo, cliffs that had become infamous for suicide jumping. Tojinbo is located in one of the most beautiful place in Japan, and is situated directly on Japan Sea. Somewhere along the route I had planned on my trip, I took a wrong turn, and ended up heading in entirely the opposite direction. I thought I was driving east, but was actually heading west. After driving for two hours I came upon the mountains of Ichijodani, the Asakura gate, and a beautiful waterfall. I also discovered Imadate, which is a small mountain community that’s famous for making the best paper in Japan. Anyone that has even cursory knowledge of Japan knows that the nation considers paper making a high art.
I visited the museum in Imadate, and talked with an elderly man, a lifelong employee who was responsible for choosing the wood to be used in their paper processing, and for operating the wood mill, which resulted in the manufacturing of fine paper. The paper that was on display in the museum were clearly works of art. An 18” square of Imadate paper hung on a wall in a home would be one of the most beautiful pieces of art on display. It really is that beautiful! Later that day, after complete strangers who could not communicate in English, (I could not communicate in Japanese) made a hand drawn map for me to get to my original destination. That evening as the sun was setting, I would discover the Japan Sea, and finally stand on the cliffs of Tojinbo. I also discovered Oshima Island, and stayed there late in the evening sitting on a grassy cliff, that looked toward Korea. I would later hear these words shrieked at me as I told a young Japanese woman of my adventure. “Manifest ghosts!” Meaning, so many people have committed suicide at Tojinbo, with many of the bodies floating on the currents to the shores of Oshima, that locals will not go there.
Most of my discoveries in Japan were made through error, and getting lost while navigating along roads that often had signs that I could not understand. This would lead to venturing into the unknown, and discovering many locations unknown to foreigners. I’d often leave home with no plans, and intentionally get lost, taking odd turns off of main roads, and heading into unchartered territory, where country folk lived, and where I’m sure I was the first foreigner to go. I would end up doing this on the following day after returning to Yonezawa from Yamadera.
Yamadera Mountaintop Temple.
Tall pines, and cedar cover the path up to the top of Yamadera. A children’s shrine that is located there, and the fact that the temple is located at the top of the mountains that overlook the town below inspired me to write a short story titled, The Crazy Woman, And The Fiery Snow. This is a story about a woman whose young son passed away, and thereafter she went to the top of Yamadera, prostrated herself in prayer, and refused to leave until her son was returned to her. It was the little red, and white amulets that were most inspiring, as each one of the hundreds that were placed around a shrine, along with pinwheels, were placed there by grieving parents who lost a child in some kind of accident, mishap, or disease. These iconic trinkets are said to help protect the children from any dangers they might face in the hereafter. To see all those little statuettes in the hundreds together is quite an emotional experience.
As I headed down from the top of the mountains it was already dark. I walked through the town, took a few pictures as the lights inside homes that sat atop shops that existed on the ground floor began to flicker on. I found my son, wife, and her sister in the car, and waiting for me. Japanese women are nothing like western woman. An American woman would have either left me there, or began shouting hysterically upon my return. The, “nothing was amiss” routine is often worse than a shouting match. I gave my wife the answer to her question she had posed at the foot of the temple steps.
It was time to head back to Yonezawa, where another fine meal was already waiting to be served to yours truly, and the rest of the family. The meal, in part consisted of home cooked udon noodles. Often, home cooked food is far superior to restaurant food. Of all the noodles out there, ramen, soba, pasta, whatever… udon is my least favorite. But, on that evening, they were the best damn noodles I’ve ever eaten.
On the next afternoon, we, that is, my wife, son, and I, drove into the mountains that surround Yonezawa. I would learn the Yonezawa Mountains are called Tengendai Highlands. I had been looking up at those mountains for several years, whenever I was in that region of the country, and had yet to trek into them. I wanted to get a feel of the place that my wife grew up in, but I was surprised to learn that she hadn’t spent much time in that region of her hometown, even though she rode her bicycle to high school in that very same direction five days a week for three years. She vaguely recalled visiting the Mizukubo Dam, when she was in elementary school, and hadn’t even thought about it, until we stumbled upon it that evening, and or course, by accident. This amazing place was a mere fifteen-minute drive from the home where my wife grew up in. It was so incredibly beautiful in the low lying hills that I had already decided to take another drive into the Tengendai Highlands on the following day. On the other side of those mountains lies the infamous Fukushima Prefecture.
The Tengendai Highlands Of Yonezawa
On the next day we drove back into the Tengendai Highlands, and took a cable car to the top of the mountains located on the Yonezawa side. It turned out this was a ski resort. When we reached the top, there was a stroller waiting for our son. When I tried to remove him from it after we reached our first destination, he put up a fit. Apparently, he really enjoyed being in “his” new contraption. Once out, and distracted with whatever I could think of at the moment, he became interested in playing with the rocks that were laid out on the trail to where we had decided to eat lunch. That location gave us a near 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. The boy cared little for the view. It was rocks, rocks and more rocks for all that he cared.
At the top of Tengendai Highlands I could see the huge mountains that bordered Yamagata, and Fukushima Prefecture. I’ve done a lot of writing about Fukushima, and an industry that stigmatized that region of Japan. I had attended antinuclear rallies, reported on them, and even went inside the exclusion zone shortly after the 3.11.11. triple disaster, and photographed it extensively. I entered evacuated communities, and saw wild animals that had once been domesticated, now wandering the streets, with some living in abandoned homes. I stumbled upon a horse that the owners had abandoned in a corral, and was starving to death. I tried to release it, but I was not able to break the locks, or tear down the metal posts that trapped the animal. All I could do was gather as much grass as I could, and put it inside the corral. I photographed that horse, and felt terrible as I departed, knowing that I had probably just fed that animal its last meal.
I had first discovered the beauty of the Fukushima coastline when I entered the exclusion zone along the cost in the evacuated town of Minami Soma. The ocean was as clear as any that I’ve seen in the Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii, or Greece. One of the most beautiful women that I’ve ever met was from Fukushima. Today, the city, and its people are treated like lepers were treated a couple thousand years ago, or as HIV carriers were treated in the early 80s. The inhabitants of the city are marginalized, and have become the brunt of jokes that aren’t funny at all. Even today, Tepco’s website continues to blame the tsunami as the reason the reactors they were responsible for maintaining failed, but the truth is the original engineers quit the project during the initial stage of construction because they were entirely aware the facilities design was flawed, that there was no way the facility could withstand a tsunami, and that their concerns were entirely ignored by those that stood to reap huge profits, and the politicians they controlled refused to stand up, and do anything about it. A larger than life disaster was inevitable. It was only a matter of time. That time came on 3.11.11. when the warnings that went unheeded finally became a reality.
Until that day at the top of Tengendai Highlands, I had no idea that the Fukushima Mountains rivaled Japan’s other national treasures such as Nikko National Park, which I wrote about in an article for Tokyo Weekender magazine. In fact, a great portion of Fukushima is a national park, and treasure.
The Fukushima Unknown To The West
The temperature gauge read between 12 and 13 degrees Celsius. But, the sun, and the dry air made it feel quite a bit warmer. Only a few people were skiing at the nearby resort, and most likely enjoying the fact that they had the slopes all to themselves. It was while eating ice cream, which my son was force feeding me, that I decided to drive to Aizu, and to try and get a glimpse of Lake Inawashiro Ko, which sat in the valley on the Fukushima side of the great divide. At the time I had no idea that we’d discover some of the most breathtaking scenery in Japan, including waterfalls, such as the one called, Fudo-Taki. We would also see a lot of snow monkeys, which I managed to get near for a few good shots. One of the larger ones became a bit aggressive, as I got too close for comfort. I had made the mistake of looking it directly in the eyes, and had forgotten that they consider that an invitation to a confrontation. I was a lot closer to the monkey at that moment than the car, and I knew that if it attacked me that it would tear me apart, and surely bite me numerous times. I thought that my wife, and son, who were in the car, would witness this as well. I quickly decided to return to the vehicle with the shots I had gotten, and with my body still in one piece.
The weather was fantastic! It was dry, and cool, but the mountains were still covered in snow. Regardless, fresh, bright green summer leaves were already sprouting. Oddly, they were turning, like it was autumn. It felt more like winter was coming, instead of the dreaded parched, and steamy summers that I long ago left Miami to get away from, and unfortunately rediscovered in Japan.
Inawashiro-Ko is located in Bandai-Asahi National Park in Fukushima. It’s the fourth largest lake in Japan. It also goes by the name Tenkyo-Ko, or heaven’s mirror. The world-renowned doctor, Hideyo Noguchi was born in Inawashiro. He became famous for his research in yellow fever, earning him a portrait depiction on Japan’s 1,000 ¥ note. His parent’s home has been preserved as the Noguchi Hideyo Memorial. In the same general area are the Aizu Folklore Museum, Sekai-No-Garasu-Kan (World’s Glass Hall), and the Inawashiro Jibiru-Kan (locally brewed beer hall), where one can drink beer brewed from the underground spring waters of Mt. Bandai-san. Fortunately, I would discover that this area remained relatively unscathed by the nuclear debacle that took place more than four years ago.
Bandai-Asahi National Park is a short trek from the Tengendai Highlands.
At the foot of Mt. Bandai-san, along the Inawashiro lakeside is a group of hot springs, including Tenkyo-Dai, Omote-Bandai, Ottate, and Bandai Inawashiro-Hayama. During winter downhill skiing takes place from Mt. Bandai to Lake Inawashiro. I saw cyclists speeding along on the lengthy downhill ride from Aizu to the foothills of Yonezawa. When I saw them fly by, I was taken back to memories of riding my bike down Estes Park Mountains in Colorado, where my sister had once been a park ranger. An aside here, she lost that job because she refused to wear a gun strapped to her waist, which was not required at the time she had original obtained that position.
The photos that I took of the Fukushima side of the mountains cannot adequately express the natural beauty of the area, as the lighting, and colors changed nearly by the second. It was cloudy one moment, and then suddenly the sun would shine, way too bright. The visual imagery would go from flat, and one-dimensional, to sudden multiple layers of contrast, and shadows. It was quite pleasing to watch the sunlight hit the landscape, and move rapidly along in that manner. The camera however could not accurately record the greens, and oranges of the leaves that I was witnessing. The colors were so bright in most of the photos, that they appeared to be oversaturated, or even distorted. I had to go into Photoshop, and remove saturation in the pictures that were salvaged, and that I am sharing in the link provided above.
We didn’t have enough time left in the day to venture to Lake Inawashiro-Ko. The gate at the entrance of the park closed at 5:00 p.m. I thought this was as stupid as closing Yamadera at the most beautiful time of day. Any amateur photographer knows that the magical hour of photography is early morning, and just as the sun is setting. Who are these men that draw lines in the sand, and say other men, generally those with more skills, or knowledge may not cross? My wife was keeping close watch on the clock, and reminded me that it was 3:50 p.m. I exited the car for the last time for some final shots of Inawashiro, the valley walls, and the surrounding mountains. I must have looked like the boy in the story, The Five Chinese Brothers, who refused to return to the shore, as he kept scooping up the hidden treasures that he found. I kept moving from position to position trying to find the best shot of the lake that sat far below. Even worse was that fact that yet another bend laid ahead in the road. It would become one of those obstacles in life that I had to begrudgingly deny. If I was alone, I would have gone on, and remained in the park for the night, sleeping on the shores of the beach, and arising to get photos of another phenomenon that Tenjin Beach is known for. I would have also gone to the brewery, and drank a few beers, and been asleep by 8:00 p.m., and up by 4:00 a.m.
On August 18th, 1925, Tenjin Beach was the site of the first Boy Scouts of Japan camping trip. Members of the Imperial Family, attended including Prince Hirohito. He’s the demon responsible for the deaths of 30 million, mostly civilians during the world’s worst war, which the “victors” celebrated this past week. Hirohito’s cousin Prince Chichibu also attended that event. He would be responsible for numerous raids that pilfered, the arts, treasures, precious metals, and riches of the nations that surrounded Japan, including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines. None of that wealth was ever returned.
In winter, strong winds, and waves form natural ice sculptures on the shoreline vegetation at Tenjin Beach, attracting photographers from around the globe. Kobirakata Shrine, located at Tenjin is dedicated to Sugawara No Michizane for philosophic thought. In mid-winter, Shibuki-Gori, (frozen mist), the phenomenon I spoke of earlier, hovers low along the shores of Inawashiro. The lake water is blown to the shore by strong winds that end up sticking to twigs, and foliage, where thereafter it becomes frozen, forming natural works of art. It enhances the scenic beauty of the lake, and in the not so distant past, mystified the region. The Shibuki-Gori appearance, and size changes by the day, just as the clouds, and sun duke it out for prominence overhead. If one ventures to this location at the right time of year, they may also experience the Omiwatari, which is ice that cracks as it rises on the beaches, and frozen lake surface. For me, that would have to be another jaunt into this previously unchartered territory, as it’s no longer winter, although it seems its quickly approaching. Or is the weather playing tricks on me again?
Is this magical location the dreaded Fukushima that nobody talks about any longer? Is this the place where cancer rates in children have risen 6000% since March of 2011? Is this the large swath of land, called a national treasure that’s become a wasteland? Or is this the paradise that it appears to be; a place where monkeys, and bears roam freely, where waterfalls endlessly run downstream providing water to numerous towns? Is there where stunning terrain, and beautiful, but strange sounding birds abound? Or is it more aptly, a paradise lost? I think the aesthetics of this place speaks volumes. I think that the real losers here are the human kind that care little for what has been given to them, as overseers, or self appointed protectors, who continue to remain negligent in their duties. I think the Fukushima Mountains, Aizu, and Inawashiro are places that are a testament to human folly, and a damning indictment of our inability to accept our role as administrators of this planet. Locations such as the forests that surround Chernobyl, the abandoned communities that once thrived there, Fukushima, and the residents who remain, having to endure constant testing for radiation exposure, and an uncertain future for their children, are mere drops in the bucket of the calamity that awaits us if we don’t pause, reflect, and rewrite the rules for this thing we call civilization.
One of many Omoshiro Yama Kogen waterfalls that cascades into the Yamadera River.
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