Thursday, 8 May 2008

A Koinobori

Koinobori (鯉幟/こいのぼり Koi-nobori meaning "carp banner" in Japanese, are carp-shaped wind socks traditionally flown in Japan to celebrate Children's Day[1]. These wind socks are made by drawing carp patterns on paper, cloth or other nonwoven fabric. They are then allowed to flutter in the wind. They are also known as satsuki-nobori (皐幟/さつきのぼり.

Children's Day takes place on may the 5th Landscapes across Japan are decorated with koinobori from April to early May, in honor of sons and in the hope that they will grow up healthy and strong.

A koinobori set consists of, from the top of the pole down, a pair of arrow-spoked wheels (矢車 yaguruma) with a ball-shaped spinning vane, flying-dragon streamer (飛龍吹流し hiryū fukinagashi) that looks like a windsock a black koinobori and a red koinobori. If more boys are in the household, an additional blue, green and then purple koinobori are added. The red koinobori's color can be varied as orange or pink. These carp sets are flown above the roofs of houses with sons, with the biggest (black) koinobori for the father, next biggest (blue) for the eldest son, and ranging down to the smallest carp for the youngest son.

The above information on the Koinobori was taken from the net and I took the above photo on our way home through a small village

The foot bath

Pictured above is the foot bath building located in Murusugi osen village and two pairs of cyclist's legs enjoying the relaxing hot water. This hot water foot bath was constructed by the local council about a year ago and has proved very popular with visiting hikers, cyclists & tourists .

Mt Gozu waterfall

Along the Yamabiko rd there is a side road that leads to the start of one of the many hiking courses that go to the top of Mt Gozu. Just past a large car park which was filled with the cars from local hikers we came across an old ski field building and chair lift which I didn't know existed and is not shown on my touring map of Niigata. And at the trial head we discovered a short side road leading to a large windswept campsite nestled amongst the trees high above the river and saw a sign informing us of a stunning waterfall located in the river below so we ventured down some slippery steeps to investigate. The above photo shows the waterfall we found.

Sasagami holiday houses

Pictured above is another photo I took along the Yamabiko Rd which shows the cluster of holiday homes on the hill at Sasagami village. The parents of one of my Japanese friends have a house located on this hill but most of their neighbors appear only on national holiday's and long weekends to occupy their holiday homes. In winter the road is so dangerous to the holiday homes that you have to walk as many of the roads leading to the homes are covered with deep snow and are very steep .

Riding along the Yamabiko rd

Pictured above are are couple of photo's of Brian & James riding along the scenic Yamabiko rd . I had never ridden the road from the direction we took but I was able to ride up the steeper sections in low gear with no problems at all. As usual Brian's hill climbing skills were in top form and he seemed to fly up the steep sections with ease. As mentioned in an older post on this blog the Yamabiko rd has over 250 monuments with Japanese poems engraved upon them with makes the road rather interesting and of course the views from along the road are fantastic as well.

The natural spring

Pictured above is James in front of the natural spring which is situated along the road towards Mt Gozu where we stopped to fill our Camelbaks & water bottles with some fresh spring water . While taking a short break I offered Brian & James some Rice & Spinach pie I had baked the day before which went down rather well and then we proceeded to ride to the start of the Yamabiko rd.

Return to the Yamabiko rd

Well as we had fine weather over Golden Week I thought I better try to get out cycling so when my mate Brian suggested an early start on May the 6th I was keen as mustard for ride even though I still had a bad cold , as I really wanted to get into the hills for a spin. After Brian & James arrived at my place at the early hour of 6.30am we headed out of the city and over the Agano river towards Suibara and rode around the Hyoko lake which in winter is famous for it's migrating swans from Russia. After passing through Suibara we rode past a Japanese Taiko drum makers workshop and stopped off at the Swan Lake Brewery to show James the restored Kura and grounds. After leaving the brewery which was closed we then headed onward towards Mt Gozu . The above photo was taken just up the road from the brewery.