#023 – KENBI-SAN
How often had we promised ourselves to hit Kenbi-san, a long revered mountain out in the northern reaches of Osaka Prefecture? Promises broken by the lure of another peak or simply that of the blankets. As on too many a fair weathered morn that year, we were more often than not liable to just roll over and return to the land of Nod.
Kenbi-san? It wasn’t so far out of our way. We could get out there anytime.
Well, still invigorated a week after the glorious day out on Ryozen-san and with kiddies’ Christmas parties and a flight south for the winter (a month of it anyway) looming we were, at last, Kenbi bound for better or worse.
Up into the woods, we clambered over the sacred boulders dotting Gyoja-yama, a mountain once known as the Omine of Settsu, in deference to the mighty mountains of Nara. There on Gyoja, the devout would go about their austerities, ridding themselves of their worldly desires in order to catch but a glimpse of more virtuous realms. Here too, it is said, they would attempt to carve their likenesses into rock faces employing nothing but their fingernails to do so.
From Gyoja the trail rose gently towards Kenbi-san. The fall colours were at their dazzling best. The scattered ruins of Genno-ji, an ancient temple said to date from the 6th or 7th centuries dotted a silent grove just below the summit. Once, long ago, in times dimmed by the fog of passing ages the attendants at Genno-ji lit a holy fire and the sword of Fudo-myo-o, the fire god, dropped out of the heavens. We suspected this is how Kenbi-san (ken translating as sword) received its name.
A chilly breeze tickled our ears on the summit and with all agreeable picnic spots taken by groups of weekend warriors more fleet of foot than we had been we wandered on and spied a spot beneath a tree surrounded by shin high sasa. There we gobbled down our lunches, shivered and stared out to the sun drenched neighbouring hills while unsuccessfully willing the clouds parked above us to move on.
From Kenbi we trod the forested heights of its neighbour Yoko-san. Plunging down the other side on a knee knocking trail the day’s circuit, and the year’s hikes were complete. Back at the bus stop there was enough time to spare for an end of hike, and season, soft cream as we huddled together in the warmth of a tiny roadside fruit stand and awaited our ride out of the hills.