Here are a few more photos from Shirakamisanchi last week. There are a whole bunch more but tumblr only allows 10 photos per post, so it would be annoying to try and upload them all. I might do one more photoset. If you’re in Facebook, you can look at all my photos there, but otherwise I guess these will have to suffice. Sorry about that.


A brief video compilation of a few of the things we did in Shirakamisanchi. Most of these clips (except the traveling clips) are from Thursday, because that was the only sunny day we had.

Sorry for the awkward music, YouTube replaced all of the original audio because I used part of a song that was apparently copyrighted. Oops oh well.


Most of my photos are on my camera, so these will have to do for now.

It was raining for three of the four days we were in Shirakami (we happened to go at the same time a typhoon was making its way up Japan’s western coast) but at least the rain made clouds of mist hang over the forests on the mountainsides, and it looked pretty. We just had to put on our heavy weather gear try not to hate the rain too much. After a while I kind of got used to the feeling of being perpetually wet. And at least Thursday, when we were outside all day making charcoal and chopping wood and clearing the forest, it was sunny warm.


Shirakamisanchi "Project Tour"

Ah, it feels so good to be back with my host family, and to finally have Wifi again. I’m sorry, I’m a 21st century kid, I need my internet.

Anyway, the reason I’ve been M.I.A. for the past four days is because I went on a field trip! A group of 13 second-year high school students from Kumon went all the way up to Akita prefture, to visit Shirakamisanchi - a world heritage site. We traveled by Shinkansen from Tokyo early Tuesday morning, arriving in Akita in the afternoon. We then took a bus to Shirakamisanchi, which took another hour or so.

We stayed with host families, and I was put in the same home with two of my friends, Risa and Tomomi. The three of us were with a 64 year old woman, Keiko-san, who lived by herself, and she was more than hospitable, cooking all kinds of Akita foods that were delicious (photos to come). It was a little difficult for me because I’m not exactly fluent in Japanese, and in Akita they speak a slightly different dialect. Risa and Tomomi told me that even they had a hard time understanding Keiko-san sometimes!

The trip lasted from Tuesday until Friday, and during that time we explored the many kinds of nature for which Shirakamisanchi is famous. We hiked through the beech tree forests on the mountain, and learned about the plants and animals there. We made charcoal and chopped wood and made kiritanpo, a traditional food from Akita. We cut down trees and cleared out weeds and trimmed branches to help maintain the forest. We planted young saplings in an empty area on the mountain side, went to a farm to see some sheep (lamb and mutton are a Shirakami specialty), and then hiked a little to see a waterfall with delicious mountain water you can drink. Finally we made miso: we mixed the beans and salt and fermented-stuff-that-I-don’t-know-the-name-of together, and ground it up into a paste. Then we packaged it up to take home. I have like a half-gallon tub of it now.

We finally returned to Yokohama this evening, taking a short one-hour plane flight from Akita to Tokyo. I got home just in time for dinner, and I’m exhausted. I think I’ve had enough nature to last until I get back to New England.