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Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010

JAPAN LITE

The off-season and other things that go off


Now that the summer is officially over, and we've entered the off-season in the Seto Inland Sea, you're probably thinking there is not much to do here on these sun-kissed islands. Actually, you'd be surprised.

The main thing to do on the islands in the off-season is hiking. For example, on Ogijima, Kagawa Prefecture, you can take a hiking trail up to see conceited flowers. Yes, "Narcissus flower viewing" is, apparently, a big thing there.

The island people, thinking of a way, obviously any way, to attract tourists, have planted thousands of egotistical flower bulbs. But the really dumb thing about this idea is that they put the flowers in a place where they would be much easier to view via helicopter. The brochure claims they have been planted along a "recreational trail," but after having hiked the trail myself with a belay and crampons, I'd say it is more than what anyone but a rabbit would consider a "recreational walk."

Considering that most of Japan's population is aging, it makes me wonder if there is not an ulterior motive to attracting people to this island — such as hospitalization. Perhaps the one doctor on the island is really lonely. Or maybe he just needs something to do.

Or maybe they're trying to recreate the folkloric obasuteyama — the mountain where old people were sent off to die so they wouldn't become a burden on their families and their children could still collect their pension payments. "C'mon grandma, there are flowers up there!"

I still think the whole idea of hiking up a steep trail to see flowers is more suited to a rabbit, who would at least have something to eat once he arrived at the top. And when you consider that egotistical flowers would almost have to be an aphrodisiac for rabbits, since basically all food is for rabbits, which is why they multiply so fast, you'd soon have an entire meadow of rabbits instead of flowers. Conceited rabbits!

What surprises me is that no one has thought of putting a bar at the top of the mountain next to the flowers. People are known to do really dumb things just for a drink. But just to see flowers?

Besides, flowers all look alike. You've seen one stuck-up flower, you've seen them all. You could just plant one flower at the bottom of the mountain and save people a lot of trouble. For that matter, the island could have planted just one flower at the top to the same effect. Especially if it was next to a bar.

But I do have sympathy for the island people belonging to the Conceited Flower Committee. Perhaps they did have this idea of just planting one flower at the top. But with all those narcissist bulbs, each bulb thinking it is far brighter than the other, it would have been hard to decide which one should have the privilege of all that admiration on top of the mountain. Probably, the Conceited Flower Committee couldn't reach consensus, so they decided to let all of them grow up there.

Now there are hundreds of these things, which only serves to stroke their egos even more. Can you imagine what these flowers are going to be like when they get older? Spoiled!

For those of you who really do want to climb all the way to the top of a mountain just to see flowers with the naked eye, I say: Shame on you! At least have the decency to wear sunglasses.

Start the climb at the designated starting point, which you'll recognize because it has a cute little sign with an arrow and a photo of smiling flowers that says, "Just 800 meters!" After you hike 800 meters, you'll come to another cute little sign with smiling flowers that says, "Just 700 more meters!" Now, I know what you're thinking — you've just climbed 800 meters — how can you have another 700 to go?

This is called "deception," something narcissist flowers are very good at, because every 100 meters there is another cute, smiling flower sign that says you have more hundreds of meters to go when you obviously should have been at the top a long, long time ago.

They even offer benches to rest at along the way, which proves they know they are lying because who would need more than one bench to walk 800 meters on a "recreational" trail?

Also, you should keep in mind that vertical meters are much further than horizontal meters. What "just 400 more meters" really means is that you might need to replace your worn-out crampons at this point. When you finally do reach the top, you'll find a sign that says, "Just 300 meters ahead!" Those lying stalks! At this point, you'll feel like ripping out their stamens when you get there.

When we finally got to the top, about a week later, you'll never guess what we saw. No, not a bunch of vain flowers with compacts applying pollen to their petals. Not even flowers having their stamens ripped out by rabbits. Instead, there were no flowers at all! As the very last sign informed us: Narcissus only blooms in January and February. Which just goes to prove — it was all in vain.



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