A byte of life from the Land of Sumos and Sushi

Friday, July 15, 2005

After talking about it for some time, I have finally got round to buying an inflatable canoe. With the snow long gone, Sam and I needed something to take us into the great outdoors over the summer and autumn months, and this canoe is looking like one of my best purchases of all time.

I researched similar boats for a long time, but eventually decided to go with a Sea Eagle 330, (www.seaeagle.com), which so far, I would have to thoroughly recommend as an excellent value and quality vessle. The well priced two man craft (approx £200 inc. shipping from USA) can be inflated and on the water in little over five minutes using a foot pump, and it all breaks down to fit into a smallish bag, easily carried by one person.

After taking it for a quick test run on a tiny stretch of the Kuzuryu river (home of the swimming hole), yesterday I decided to give it a more substantial challenge. So, being gratefully dismissed from school at noon due to a parents meeting, I raced home, threw the boat into my Pajero Mini, and hit the road.

My destination was the Kuzuryu lake, and huge body of water about 45 mins drive from my home. The lake was formed by the damming of the Kuzuryu river for hydro electric power purposes, yet despite being man made, it’s a very beautiful place, situated in the isolated mountains, with a minimum of human development.

I’d heard rumours that certain portions of the lake are off limits to boats, but having scoped it out and finding the area deserted, I’d decided I take my chances. Within ten minutes, the boat was ready for launching, and I grabbed my paddles, and pushed off in to the cool waters of the lake.

When the dam was built and the valley flooded, apparently several villages were destroyed, and people were forced to leave. Locals say that the many of the buildings were left standing, some even say it’s haunted, and as I paddled out into the centre of the lake, I found it to be eerily calm. For the first two hours, I saw no people, no fish, few birds, and indeed, the only residents of the lake appeared to be submerged, black, dead trees, which I often saw poking several meters out of the water, some of them standing surprisingly far out in the lake.

The lake has a number of inlets, perfect for exploring, so I chose one, and paddled on. I got quite a fright when I was in out in the middle of the lake, and suddenly saw a huge, dark ghostly shape gliding deep below me. At first I didn’t know what it could be, and feared it was perhaps a relative of the Loch Ness Monster, but later on I spotted a similar phenomenon, and identified it as a shoal of large fish cruising the depths.

The high light of the day was the band of wild monkeys I stumbled upon. As I was making my way back down one of the many inlets, I noticed some of the branches of the trees were moving. I paused to watch, and a few minutes later, several monkeys emerged from the dense forest and came to sit on a piece of dead wood jutting into the water, eyeing me up inquisitively. I slowly, quietly paddled towards them, hoping to be able to get some shots. As I grew nearer, I realised there was a group of ten or more primates, checking me out.

As I sat and watched, they became more bold, some of them climbing out onto the limbs of trees near me, shaking the branches and making noises at me. I observed them for a good half an hour, trying to get as many shots as possible. Occasionally they would come down from the trees, and one of them made a brave run towards me, but scared itself by knocking some loose stones into the water.

As the shadows lengthened, the time came to leave ‘monkey point’, and return to land. As packed up and drove homewards, I had a feeling of quiet calm.

Today, I am going fishing on another lake with our mountain climbing friend “Yasu” – it’s a hard life.

NOTE: Today is my last day of school this term – hence the holidays begin. As a result, I will be travelling round Japan, looking for fresh material for thefunkydrummer. I will endeavour to post when I can, but it won’t be as regularly as you have come to expect until term restarts in September.

Have a good summer – School’s Out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the link for osaka blog is wrong, it's here
i hope that helps drummer man

Saturday, July 16, 2005 11:45:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the escapades you've documented here, I'm surprised to find myself saying this one has made me the most envious, even with all the boarding. -Aramando

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 2:04:00 am

Blogger The Funky Drummer said...

I heard you were actually more jealous of the skinny dipping.

All this could be yours too if want it Benito.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 2:57:00 pm


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