The first day of June was lovely!
Jeff and I woke up early and went to Mt. Gozaisho. It is the tallest mountain in the Suzuka range (12,000 meters), and I can see it from my apartment. It takes about three hours to climb to the top, and its a strenuous hike. There are some points where you do have to literally climb the rocks as you go up the mountain. It was my second time climbing the mountain; last October I went with Theda.
On the way up the mountain, we spotted some wildlife. We saw a mountain goat, a pale green snake that wound it's way through the tree branches, and a reddish-brown squirrel. It was very interesting to see a mountain goat in its natural habitat.
One of the interesting things about hiking up the mountain is seeing how the environment changes as the elevation rises. Near the top, it almost feels like the jungle.
The view from the top is worth the climb! From one side, you can see Mie-ken, and on the other side, you can see Shiga-ken. We took a ski-lift to the Shiga side of the peak (you can ski on Gozaisho in the winter), and looked out over the mountains. In the distance, we could see Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan.
We had lunch on the top of the mountain, and I changed clothes and freshened up. We took a ropeway down the mountain. The ropeway is the steepest one in Japan. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Nagoya and even to to Centrair airport. At the bottom of the ropeway, you can buy freshly-made senbei. They are sweet and flavored with black sesame seeds; when they are hot and fresh they are very soft, but they harden as they cool...they cool really rapidly, so your teeth end up getting quite a work-out.
After the climb, we went to Nabananosato, a flower park, to see the ajisai (Hydrangea) exhibit. There were thousands of blooms...white, pink, pale green, and shades of sky blue. In my opinion, the blue ones are the prettiest, but they had one variety called "dancing princess" which was a white flower with a pink edge that I found to be very beautiful.
Nabananosato is more than a flower park...it also has an onsen, and at least half a dozen restaurants. We went to the "German" Beer Hall for dinner. The beer is German-style beer, and the restaurant is huge like a beer hall, but the atmosphere and food (other than 3 or 4 items) are decidedly Japanese. It's a tasty place nonetheless, and I like the weizen there, it tastes a bit like apples and cinnamon.
Before we left the park, Jeff treated me to ajisai flavored icecream! It was a pink and blue soft-serve cone. It was a vanilla base with ajisai fragrance. Delicious!