Author Archives: Yasuharu Nagura

About Yasuharu Nagura

Born in 1989. Musician. Hideout Records Founder & CEO.

Photography in Kamikochi, Japan (2021)

Kamikochi

If you go through the Abo Tunnel and head towards the mountains

Twilight spreads across the viewfinder.

Kamikochi

Coffee in one hand, a bag in the other

I can’t hear you when you say “Yoo-hoo.”

By the murmur of the river

Behind my eyelids

It’s a fleeting mountain photo.

Fading away

The town that used to be lively has now quieted its voice.

What are we afraid of?

What are we afraid of?

I will never forget.

The journey has an end.

And a new journey begins.

Photography in Okuhida, Japan (2021)

It’s a weekend morning, 6 a.m. I filled up two empty plastic water bottles from the water server in the dining room. In the morning, I changed my clothes and headed for the mountains as usual.

I had breakfast at the service area restaurant I usually use. I sat by the window so that I could see the view of the mountains. It was a cloudy morning.

I drove about 30 kilometers north to Okuhida. As I drove along Route 471, I encountered a group of monkeys.

I took Prefectural Road 475, the “Starry Sky Road,” and arrived at Okuhida Onsengo. Okuhida Onsengo is a group of five hot spring villages, Hirayu, Fukuji, Shin-Hirayu, Itao, and Shin-Hodaka, all of which are nestling in the bosom of the Northern Alps.

I paid my bill, parked a car in a pay parking lot near the Shin Hodaka Onsen, and walked to the Shin Hodaka ropeway station on the north side of the street. When I left the parking lot, I saw the Gamata River flowing by and Kasagatake (2,898m) towering ahead. It was a beautiful mountain with a solid, shade-shaped form.

At the ropeway stop, Shinhodaka Onsen Station (1,117m), they sell local sake and other famous products from Okuhida. The ropeway had motorized double-decker gondolas that rocked and kept the ropeway level.

The second floor boarding area was spacious. There were oil paintings of mountain scenery on the walls. I got on the ropeway and stood as far back as I could. It was noon without sun.

It would be raining by the time I reached the observation deck at Nishi Hotodaka Station (2,156m). The light was just what I needed.

This time I decided to bring my camera and a light gray raincoat. The camera was a small but rigid, lightweight stainless steel, capable of shooting continuously at up to about 3.5 frames per second. If you have such a camera, you can take pictures of anything a crazy person might do and leave them as evidence.

The ropeway had arrived at Nabedaira Kogen Station (1,385m). I left the station exit and walked along a small path of white birches, climbing up the slope of the mountain.

I felt as if I could hear birds chirping from the white birches with their distinctive white bark. A bird was whistling happily.

I couldn’t find the bird. Or maybe there was no such bird in the first place.

So I got back on the road and walked to Shirakabadaira Station (1,380m). The birch trees had been replaced by Quercus Serrata. I could enjoy a variety of wildflowers. I could see some mountains in the distance.

After about four or five minutes, I arrived at Shirakabadaira Station. I entered the entrance by the view lounge. I walked and passed by the bakery, and I got to the front of the line for the ropeway.

I got on the ropeway again and stood as far back as I could. The second ropeway was 2,598 meters long and took seven minutes to reach Nishi Hodaka Station (2,156 meters).

I entered the observatory on the roof of the station. I stood at the front of the observatory and listened carefully. The summit breeze tickled my back. It was chilly.

When I opened my eyes, I could see Kasagatake (2,898m), Yarigatake (3,180m), and other mountains of the Northern Alps against the hazy blue sky.

Then I looked at my watch. The time was one o’clock.

We also had a panoramic view of the North Alps, which represent Okuhida, from Mt. Hakusan (2,720m) and Mt. Norikura (3,260m) were faintly visible in the distance.

As for Mt. Yarigatake, it is the fifth highest peak in Japan. At 3,180 meters, it is a symbol of the Northern Alps. There is no other mountain that expresses the shape of “spear” so realistically with its pointy shape.

Okuhodaka, with its beautiful rock walls and alpine appearance, is full of charm that cannot be overstated. Centered on Okuhodakadake, the fifth highest mountain in Japan, there are a series of 3,000-meter peaks including Kitahodakadake, Karasawadake, Maehodakadake, and Nishihodakadake.

Yakedake showed a beautiful bell-shaped mountain. It is the only active volcano in the Northern Alps, and in June 1915, an eruption caused by a phreatic eruption dammed the Azusa River, changing its course and creating a pond. It is said that the volcanic ash from the eruption was so great that it covered the entire sky.

It is called the Yakedake explosion. The active volcanic activity of Mt. Yakedake, which had continued since 1907, has now calmed down after a few days of small explosions in 1963.

I left the observatory and went outside. I walked along a path that wound through the trees of the virgin forest. There were many things to see. Wildflowers and alpine plants were blooming along the path.

Oh my God, why am I here? What am I thinking? There is the trailhead. I’d better turn around now. The area was getting darker. It’s getting darker and darker……

There was a hut in front of the trailhead. I went inside the terrace of the hut and circled the area. I went to the door and took a picture of the map with my current location on it. I left the terrace.

I stood there and looked at the motionless, misty mountains. I thought. It was time to go back.

I can have lunch at the coffee shop on the fourth floor before I start my journey. If I could make it to the fourth floor, there would be a reward waiting for me.

I went up to the fourth floor “Mount View” and lined up in front of the ticket machine. There was beef curry on the menu. Beef curry does not have animal rights. I don’t like beef curry. I can hear the cows screaming.

That is why I continue to eat soba. I had Unkai Soba. Frozen soba? What a mess. And frozen soba is always the same. Wait a minute. I don’t have time to deal with frozen soba.

I went down the stairs and stepped into the store. The store had a large selection of products from the ropeway’s top station. It had been a long time since I had left my everyday world. I walked to the ropeway stop, where I waited in a long, long line. Then we took the ropeway down the mountain.

After descending, I returned to the parking lot, changed my clothes, and headed for Hirayu Otaki Grand Waterfall. I had a quick snack and some sweets.

Why should we go to the waterfall?

We can go to the waterfall and enjoy looking at it and caressing it. There is also the Hirayu hot spring nearby, where we can take a stroll through the picturesque hot spring town and soak our bodies in the footbaths and open-air baths. It was not a bad idea, but the crowds made me not feel like going.

It took me quite a while to reach Hirayu Otaki Grand Waterfall. On the way, I saw a herd of Suffolk sheep in the pasture. Hirayu Otaki Grand Waterfall has a drop of 64 meters. It is one of the three most famous waterfalls in Hida.

Its grandeur may be unparalleled in Japan. It looked much more elegant. I looked at the waterfall with serious eyes. Then I walked back along the Hirayu Otaki forest path.

These were the events of the last summer in Okuhida that I remember.

Japanese https://note.com/yasuharunagura/n/n4423cb64676d

Photography A Trip Around Marsh Plants, Japan (2021)

When I turned off the road from Prefectural Road 321, I found a 2.2 ha peat bog that had been developed.

It was a place where plants grew wild and aquatic plants were transplanted and protected. In the Showa period (1926-1989), development began, and most of the marshland was reclaimed, leaving only a few percent left.

The air was warm and quiet.

There was a marshland botanical garden there. I walked into the garden. The inside of the botanical garden was quiet, and the temperature seemed to be dropping.

An elderly couple was sitting in a summerhouse and dressed elegantly in their jackets. They seemed to be retired and were living off their pension.

I walked through the Mizubasho (skunk cabbage) pond next to it. Then I went on to the wildflower garden.

I just got tired quickly. Unfortunately, recovering from ten days of mouth sores is no mean feat.

I have been abstaining from alcohol, and I am sick of it. When I see someone with a drink in hand, I want to go over there. I want to go over there and make myself pleasant to those jerks.

But if I keep drinking, it means that my mouth ulcers won’t heal fast enough. That means I can’t do any good work. It’s gotten worse lately.

I used to be able to drink as much as I wanted when I was young and robust health. But when I am over 30, it’s not the same.

After about a kilometer, I saw Mt. Dainichigatake (1,709m) on my left. The scenery was fading away behind me. And eventually, I saw a dazzling, hot, sparkling water lily pond.

I was careful not to get my feet stuck in the mud of the pond. I’ve only visited the water lily pond once, and that was because it was dark under the trees.

The water lilies in the pond were magnificent. They must have suffered a lot to grow up.

They were blooming above the pond.

I have read the gardening diary of an Englishman. Doesn’t that mean I’m intelligent, literate, and have unique insights ?

Reference

Japanese https://note.com/yasuharunagura/n/nbcffa81a0a08

Photography in Gujo City, Gifu, Japan (2021)

Five days later, I went to a ranch in Gujo city, Gifu prefecture, and looked through the viewfinder of my camera to find a field of violet-pink flowers waiting for me.

This time I wore a white polo shirt and a black trekking hat. No necklace and no sunglasses. My mouth was somewhat sore from the mouth ulcers. I’m not in such dire straits at the moment that I’m willing to jump at any job.

I was fascinated by the flowers. Anyway, I was taken aback by the beauty. It may have been a tourist ranch, but the brochure said, “Take a deep breath,” so I took a deep breath. Yeah, it’s not the first time I’ve done this.
 
I could smell the flower garden right in front of me. Or maybe I just felt like I smelled it. It was a lavender flower garden. This place sometimes tends to be, how to say it, dreamy. It’s like being in an imaginary world.

There used to be a kind of barbecue house for families. They provided food, a place to rest, facilities for outdoor activities, entertainment, and above all, a quiet environment.

The price was not too high. Families are usually not that wealthy. When I say families, I include children and pets.

It was hot there. It must have been 35 or 36 degrees Celsius.

On the three sides of the lavender field were the plateau flower field, the church flower field, and the secret flower field, where there was a church like you would see in the West, but the bell there was rusty and faded.

The flower garden area was full of colors. There were blue Russian sage, yellow marigolds, pink alstroemeria, and red sun patients.

From one side of the lavender field, I could see Mt. Dainichigatake (1,709m) and Mt. Hakusan (2,702m).

Dainichigatake is locating to the southeast of Hakusan, and the empty ski resort looked as if a landslide had occurred. There were no people on the trail. There was an off-season atmosphere in the air.

Maybe it was, it wasn’t.

While drinking water, I thought about Dainichigatake and Hakusan. To go or not to go? I would spend most of the afternoon trying to get to the two mountains.

I walked about two kilometers to the pasture and took some breaks on a bench near the pond. As I drank the water, I began to feel more and more amused by the reality that people were feeding the carp in the pond. How can food for carp be more expensive than the water we drink?
 
In the pasture, I saw some fascinating animals such as Suffolk sheep, native to England. But, I couldn’t find the animals I was looking for.

It seemed that milking the cow wore out the cow, and pulling the horse wore out the horse’s nerves. Humans seemed to be abusing them by paying for their desires.

It would be harder to eat shabu-shabu (a type of hot pot) after seeing the cows at the ranch than it would be to beat the famous horse, Deep Impact. You don’t just look at a cow and say, “That looks good in shabu-shabu.”

In any case, animals have the right to live free as they are born. 

Put them out to pasture. Long live the animals!

I left the pasture and continued for a while, crossing the road train station. I climbed the stairs and returned to the main house where I could see the observatory. I sat down on a bench in front of the main house and waited patiently.

I rested for five minutes or so. Then I went back the way I came.

When I left the entrance gate, I returned to my parked car and made a U-turn to go to my next destination.

That was the end of the half-day.

Reference

Japanese https://note.com/yasuharunagura/n/n3ca574c92c87

Photography in Soni Village, Nara, Japan (2021)

I headed for Soni Village in Nara Prefecture. The long drive from Nabari was totally depressing.

Even though Mie Prefecture is a big place, there is no other place in the world that is so boring to drive. There was nothing on Prefectural Road 785 from Nabari to Soni Village. People are just doing forestry there.

It’s the same in every non-urban border town. Just like Chinatown is the same everywhere. Chinatown in Yokohama? It’s one of the most prosperous Chinatowns in Japan, but all you can find there are soup dumplings and a few Sichuan restaurants.

It’s true that after dark, you can see the shopping district bathed in a beautiful sunset. At dusk, like a Muslim wearing a hijab (scarf), there is something a little exotic about it. But I had to go to Soni Village to remember my past in the highlands.

The road to the south is as monotonous as the principal’s bragging. Through the mountains, down the hills, just winding along the river, through the mountains, up the hills, just winding along the river. That’s it.

It was four o’clock when I arrived at Soni Village. The Soni Plateau awaited me there.

I parked my car in a toll parking lot. It was raining lightly and the ground was a little damp. It took me a while to get going properly, and I needed to pay 800 yen for parking. The reason I came here was not to promote my health but to reminisce about the past.

I remembered that I had been here once about eight years ago. In the fall, when the silver grass was turning from white to silver and from silver to gold. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I was just naked in the middle of a highland meadow. I can’t imagine that I was playing alone in the awn there.

Most of the pond had become a wetland due to the accumulation of sediment over the years. The water in the pond was stored by rainwater and underground water from the mountains. There is a legend of a giant snake in the pond, and if I were to encounter one, I would run away at once. If it bit me, I would give it a kick and snap it clean in two.

I climbed the plateau in silence. I slowly extended my hand to the camera and grasped it in my palm. The sensation in both my legs was crazy. They were numb. The back of my thighs was beginning to ache. I had walked 12.4 kilometers that day, or 29,962 steps. I felt like having a drink that day. When I was tired from hiking or working hard, I wanted to moisten my throat.

I made it to the summit. The view from the top was so beautiful that I opened a bottle of whiskey and fell asleep in a drunken stupor. I’m done. Thank you. Then I turned around and headed back down.

A stylish young woman in a flowery dress with a white parasol was also going down the steps of the meadow. In a quiet meadow, there is always at least one gorgeous woman like her. I pulled up, looking for plants in the marsh.

I returned to my starting point and walked to the parking lot. I looked up at the sky. There were clouds in the sky, but it was a cool and refreshing evening. Then I got into the car and left the Soni Plateau.

Reference

Japanese https://note.com/yasuharunagura/n/nd9f006c51705

Photography in Nabari, Japan (2021)

Three days before Obon, I visited Nabari. It was six in the morning when I left home. I woke up early, which was not what I usually do. I wore a black undershirt, a hat, and sunglasses.

Nabari is famous for being the site of the Nabari Poisoned Grape Wine Incident, which took place on the evening of March 28, 1961, at a residents’ get-together held at a community center in Kuzuo, Nabari City, Mie Prefecture.

One of the residents, a man named Masaru Okunishi, was charged with murder and attempted murder. He was 35 years old at the time. Okunishi continued to appeal for a new trial, but without success, he died in prison.

The party was held after the general meeting of the “Mina-no-kai,” a club for improving the lives of the residents of Kuzuo, Nabari City, and the neighboring Yamazoe Village, Yamabe County, Nara Prefecture.

Soon after the toast, all the women collapsed one after another; five died on the spot, one was temporarily in critical condition, and eleven others suffered from poisoning. Of the 20 female participants, only three who had not drunk any wine survived.

Tests conducted by the Mie Prefectural Institute of Public Health revealed that the wine was contaminated with a pesticide containing TEPP, an organophosphorus agent. In the early morning of April 3, 1961, six days after the incident, Okunishi admitted to the crime and was arrested.

Generally speaking, I was killing time in Nabari. I looked at maps a little, did a little photography, went for walks, and hiked a little.

It was fun to watch the children dressed as ninja enduring a raft ride on some rope along the riverside at the foot of the mountain. The children are training for the ninja experience.

Women are just people. They want new curtains, and they drink wine. What was Okunishi thinking? A rosy love triangle?

I gulped down an iced coffee from my water bottle and headed for Akame 48 Waterfalls.

I was bored. Or rather, I was boring even myself. No one likes to be bored. Why do people prefer to live like a poodle in a tatami room? I may never understand.

The last time I saw a waterfall in the mountains was in November. I like the mountains in the morning. The air in the mountains was still cool and clean, and everything was shining. Before I entered the mountain, I did some last-minute grooming. I made sure my hat was in place. My hair was in order.

I love the old-fashioned shopping streets, the aging signs, and the atmosphere at the entrance to the valley. The owner bakes the first sweet bun of the day and puts it on the glass showcase with a small handwritten menu next to it.

I like to take it as a souvenir and savor it slowly. Locally baked sweet buns purchased at a quaint store – there’s no substitute for them.

It’s crazy that I slept in every day on such a beautiful morning. Still, there’s plenty of time. Let’s go for a hike. I’ll make coffee.

It’s been a beautiful day. A brisk breeze. I could hear the rugged old beech trees across the street whispering to each other.

Hiking was becoming my life’s work, my joy. But I could only vaguely try to make money. For a living. That should never be a satisfying reward for me though.

I took a walk around Akame 48 Waterfalls. I passed the time there for about three hours.

Among the many waterfalls in the 48 waterfalls, I saw Fudo-daki (Fudo waterfall), Senju-daki (Senju waterfall), Nunobiki-daki (Nunobiki waterfall), Ninai-daki (Ninai waterfall), and then Biwa-daki (Biwa waterfall).

I parked my car in the area in front of the Akame 48 waterfalls and walked from there. In my business, I am often involved in nature. So I know a lot about it.

The waterfall is 8 meters high and beautiful. I took a picture of it. The waterfall was flowing down two sides with a rock in between. It is not a single disturbance.

I had a couple of iced coffees, enjoyed the moment, and I took too many pictures.

Reference

Japanese https://note.com/yasuharunagura/n/n9d21e04dbbbb

Photography at Nagara River, Japan (2021)

Exercise is necessary even for people who take pride in how smart they are.

Today, I did 40 squats. Up to the goal of 100 times, I have to do 60 times more.

I’m planning to participate in a regatta tournament, so I just came to this land for a preview.

It’s a little too hot for me here. Though, I like hot weather.