Another very early Sunday morning, and Teresa and I took another MWR trip. Here is a shot of Mt. Fuji above some of the aircraft hangars at Yokota Air Base. I took this shot on our way to get on the tour bus. It was about 6am.......
After a few hours, (about 3) we arrived at a large valley that was filled with thousands of acres of grape vineyards. There were a few hundred small wineries, and a dozen or so large ones. We stopped at Manns Wines, a division of Kikoyman, and a partner of Del Monte. Soysauce and Ketchup....heh. http://www.manns.co.jp
Here is a shot of some of the loading and crushing equipment for all the grapes that come in. They also ferment peaches, blueberries, apples and other fruits.
Here is the main juice storage tanks. From here the pipes bring them into a central "Mixing" building, where the right mix of juices and juice types are blended, then put into casks.
Here is a shot of some of the casks in the deep basement areas. The casks are only good for about 10 years, and are made and imported from France. Most of their wines ferment from 9 months to 2 years. They make wines, brandys and rums.
Here is a photo of some of the grape plants in one of the fields around the winery. The entire valley was filled with acre upon acre of vines. This one valley produces about 30% of all the wine produced in Japan. The area is called Sukejirou Tsuchiya.
They also host their own parties, and here is a "BierGarten" style building on the side of their property. We were getting a little hungry, but it was time to move on to the next site. We did do a lot of wine tasting, and after trying about 20 vintages, I picked two styles, and picked up a few bottles.
The next stop was at the Erinji Temple complex. It was built to honor Oda Nobunga, Takeda SHingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu is known to me because he was a character (an evil one) in the move SHOGUN staring Richard Harris many years ago.
I believe that Oda and Takeda are buried here in these grounds. Teresa and I have seen alot of temples all over asia, and this is one of the nicest ones.
The complex was over about 10 acres, with some very old and large trees. Several very old and beautiful buildings were there. It is an active shrine, with monks performing services around the grounds and in the temples.
There were several pagodas, many walkways, parks, ponds, streams and graveyards.
Here is a 5 level pagoda style temple. The pictures just do not do credit to intricate wooden carvings on each level.
This is the main entrance to the Temple Complex. You have to remove your shoes and wear sandals to explore this large building complex. It even has the first really nice "Nightengale Floor" I've seen in Japan. There is no way to walk down the hallway without all the floor boards all singing loudly like birds. Very cool!
The main gate entrance oto the Temple grounds. In asia, it is actually bad luck to step on the middle board as you cross the threshold. Remember that whenever you go to a shrine or temple complex in the Orient!
Here is a shot of me in front of one of the original building building arches. It dates back hundreds of years.
An inner courtyard with bamboo railed walkways. Small waterfalls, ponds, streams and coi filled pools are everywhere.
A shot of one of the ponds. The pond is actually made in the shape of a Japanese Kanji character, symbolizing peace and harmony.
It is very beautiful, but all I could keep thinking about was how much trimming, clipping, mowing and cleaning would have to be done each week! Ouch!
There was also a museum portion of the grounds. You were not susposed to take pictures there, but I did not know that until after I had snapped off about 40 shots or so. You were also susposed to pay to get in, but Teresa and I didn't know that either!
Another shot of me under a set of red Torii Gates. The Torii Gate is the most famous symbol of Japanese shrines and temples..
Mt. Fuji is starting to show snow...and it is only late October!
Time to move on, but here is a shot of Japanse tourists getting off their buses to go to the same complex. Teresa was too hungry to wait any longer, so she got some ice cream to tide her over!
The next stop was a rocky gorge and cliff area up high in the mountains. The area is called Shosenkyo Gorge. This area is also famous for the amount of people that come out to this area to commit suicide. Susposedly it is very beautiful and peacefull, and that is where people want to go to do that kind of thing.
We took a cable car up to a sumit, to overlook the area on the top of Mt. Kimpu to get another view of Fuji. We ate lunch first, then started our tour. It was a bit windy up on the top of the ridge, but it was pretty, and we got a small hike in the woods too.
Teresa poses for me with Mt. Fuji in the background. This shot in High Resolution is a really nice computer wall paper for me at work!
And of course a shot of me with Mt. Fuji in the background as well.
Then we went down a path to a series of waterfalls and pools. It was starting to get overcast, and the light was "blue" looking. The photos did not come out as well as they should, but it really did look like this. This particular waterfall is called the Sengataki Waterfall.
There were alot of shops and stores selling rocks and crystals, some as big as a volkswagen bug! There were several quartz crystals, single crystals, as big as zerox machine! Sadly, we were in a hurry to get back to the bus, as it was leaving to head back to the base. It was a great trip, except for the two small children who screamed, yelled and also kicked the back of our seats the 3 hours out, and 4 hours back to the base....heh...sigh.