September 12, 2011
The great Fuji-san adventure continued: we’d seen the ice caves; now it was time for my final columnar basalt waterfall of Japan: Shiraito-no-taki (白糸の滝). After leaving the lava caves, we drove through the leafy forests and open fields; dense woods and steep valleys of Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県, “mountain (Asian) pear prefecture”) and onto Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県, “quiet hill prefecture”).
Arriving at the parking lot for Shiraito-no-taki in the midday sun, we we eager for a bit of a respite from the heat. Fortunately, soft-serve (ソフト) ice cream is everywhere in Japan, so we zeroed in on a shop selling frozen dairy treats.
Like all good eating establishments in Japan, the shops at Shiraito-no-taki had sampuru, or samples of the food they peddled. This ice cream shop had gigantic models of soft-serve ice cream outside, perfect for posing. The most popular flavors I saw in Japan were vanilla (バニラ) and まっ茶 (powdered green tea). Occasionally, you’ll see strawberry (いちご), grape (ぶどう), and maybe chocolate (チョコ), but only twice did I see wasabi (わさび): once at Owakudani, and once here at Shiraito-no-taki, 白糸の滝. ばっちりです！ おいしいです！
Wasabi ice cream looks rather white; a lot of times food coloring is added to the paste to give it more visual appeal.
Aikawa-san was incredibly excited at the wide variety of sundae flavors.
Another shop had “Rasta Rum”. And numerous signs in Portuguese. Do Brazilian field workers come by here on holidays? This prefecture is home to at least 15,000 folks of Brazilian descent, so most likely.
Myoga for sale.
This little wheeled cart sold shaved ice and had sign-ins from all over the globe on its yellow walls.
Further down the path a vendor hawked dried fruit.
Fish on sticks.
Octopus and more fish on sticks. Thank you no on the たこ.
Not food, but mountain coral (山さんご)—fossilized?
Fresh wasabi root.
Signs directed us to 白糸の滝 (Shiraito) and 音止め (Otodome) waterfalls.
The first waterfall, 音止め, was big, swollen with the abundance of rain from the recent typhoon. Its name literally translates as “sound stopped”, and it did just that: stopped all other sounds from being audible with the loudness of its deluge.
音止め滝 was not the main purpose of our visit, and we continued on down the path, past wildflowers and sheets of water weeping out of the basalt walls of the canyon.
白糸の滝 means “waterfall of white thread”, and it was immediately clear why this feature gained this poetic name: countless gossamer falls of water threaded out of the rock and into a central pool.
The boys took off their shoes to test the water.
Flowers rimmed the pool.
It was too good to leave, but alas we had to return to Tokyo. Reluctantly, we left Yamashita Prefecture.
Fuji-san was all but shrouded in clouds as we drove past; we had picked the perfect day to climb it.
In the parking lot we found a left-side drive Ferrari. The boys demonstrated their thoughts on the imported car.
We loaded up into cars and headed back the way we’d come. A forest of cedar trees turned into streaks as we sped by, light and leaves merging into a yellow-green blur.
Fuji-san emerged from the clouds as if to wave goodbye.
The ubiquitous rice paddies flanked the road.
We swung by a retreat center, rumored to cause bad luck if you photograph it. Guess what I did.
A tractor!!! We’re in farm country! (Where are the orchards?)
Back at a rest stop, Ijima-san bought a Fuji-san shaped pastry stuffed with custard.
Aikawa-san found more ソフト.
And posed for photos.
And so ended the last adventure outside of Tokyo. I’ll leave you with a parting shot of my beloved labmates, Tatsuya-san and Maro-san. They took me all over, from Tokyo to Kanagawa; showed me how to navigate trains, roads, and kanji; and responded to my text messages as I tried to figure out their country. Incredibly warm and friendly, I’m supremely grateful for their assistance and guidance from Jindaiji to Takao-san to Fuji-san to Enoshima. どもうありがとうございます！ ＾＿＾