gmhTODAY 25 gmhTODAY April May 2019 - Page 104

Day Seven Tsumago, Kiso, Fukushima (14.9 miles) Day Eight Kiso, Fukushima, Kaida Plateau (8.7 miles) Next morning it was raining buckets. Our group had walked Scotland, so we were game to go, but Giorgio announced there were washouts, landslides, churning rivers and general mayhem and we would be taking the train that day. Our response: “Well, if you insist.” Wisdom comes with age. We escaped the rain at the Nakazen Sake Brewery in Kiso-Fukushima. One really hasn’t tasted sake until the experience of fresh sake in Japan. The brewery’s sake master opened a beautiful lacquered box and poured sake into a glass inside the box just until it began to spill over. It’s a sign of generosity, Giorgio told us, and one that definitely impresses the tourists. We visited a historic samurai checkpoint, which once served to screen travelers and prevent a coup d’etat by the ruler’s enemies. The 328-foot-high Karasawa-notaki waterfall marked the start of our climb over Jizo Pass and down onto the plateau known as Kaida Kogen. The views of snowy Mt. Ontake and the Japanese Alps in the distance were awesome. Mt. Ontake is an active volcano, considered sacred by some Buddhists. We saw Japan’s sturdy Kaida horses, and traveled on through alpine forests and across another mountain pass. In the distance, we could see our day’s destination, an inn with onsen (natural) hot springs. Giorgio joked, “It looks far, but it is not that close.” 104 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN april/may 2019