Mount Nantai is a towering sacred stratovolcano. Its most recent activity was an eruption only 7000 years ago. An earlier eruption produced lava flows that blocked the Daiya River and formed the beautiful Lake Chuzenji.
ABOUT THE PHOTO
After a couple of days in Okunikko we were beginning to get that hiking itch. However everyone we talked to kept insisting there was nothing to do and everything was closed because of the snow/winter season. Bus terminal workers, tour guides in Tokyo, hotel workers, and even the friendly locals in Okunikko all told us “nothing to do.” Nonsense. The best hiking trips I’ve ever been on were during the dead of winter. We threw on our hiking boots, geared up and walked out of the hotel with one goal in mind: hike around Lake Chuzenji. For about a mile we walked down the road that ran along the lake. As it turned away from the lake we hopped over the railing and continued on the rocky shore. It was so peaceful and quiet. Other than the occasional duck or small bird, the only movement came from the water with its infinity of miniature waves and the trees swaying in the cold wind. The sky helped set the mood as it blanketed a dull, grey cast over everything. All the colors your eye could see were muted. Perfect. After about two hours of hiking with not a soul in sight a fisherman seemed to appear out of nowhere. A lone body ten feet out into the frigid water holding a rod, staring at the lake. As we walked by he paid no attention, not even a glance. His gaze fixed on the water. Or maybe the mountain. Maybe he was actually mediating. I know I would have been. I raised my camera, focused on him, and clicked. Still no acknowledgement of us, or the photo I took. As we kept walking more fisherman materialized. All of them spaced out 100 feet or so from each other. All with that serene gaze. They could have been statues if it weren’t for the occasional casting of the line.