“We have to climb that?” I asked, craning my neck to see the black, water-slick rock that stood between us and the next pool, part-way through our trip up the Teninkyo Gorge on Mount Tomoraushi in Hokkaido`s wilderness heart, Daisetsuzan National Park.
Water and high places hold special significance in Japan. From the very beginning, when Izanagi and Izanami – two lovesick gods at play in the early cosmos – reached down from the Floating Bridge with a heavenly spear and created the Japanese archipelago, the relation between high and low, base and superstructure, has defined the cycle of life on these volcanic islands. Even today in this hyper-tech nation, yamabushi, Shinto holy men, worship mountains as the soul of the nation. Meanwhile, back at sea level, floods and tsunamis plague farmers and fishermen, and typhoons sweep in from the East China Sea, bringing wrath-of-god like rain to the coasts. Fast flowing rivers and waterfalls vein the volcanic landscape.
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