With winter slowly fading away and the mountains losing their snowy peaks tramping season is once again kicking off. I'm very lucky to have meet some very keen trampers who live in Oita city and who seem to spend every weekend out in the hills. Although I am by far the youngest of the bunch, even younger than their kids, it suprises me how fit and fast they are.
Last Sunday we headed out towards Hita, a town about 1.5hrs away. The weather was supposed to be fine but unfortunately yet again this wasn't the case. This annoying problem follws me every time I go tramping in Japan and the people I go with have now dubed me "the rain man"! Every time I tag along the forecast is wrong and it rains. Case in point last Sunday, cloudy with fine patches became complete whiteout and misty drizzle. The beautiful view from the top was nowhere to be found. Don't worry though, it cleared 15mins before we got back to the cars!
One thing the Japanese love to do is soak in onsens, or as we call them hot springs, there is an onsen on every corner in Beppu and just as many dotted around the country side. If you find a building it's either an abandoned school, convenient store or an onsen. I have had 3 trips to them so far but still can't decide exactly how i feel about them. There is certainly something relaxing about soaking in hot water butt naked while watching the forest around you but it's all the other stuff that's a little uncomfortable. Even though I am shaking on the inside and feeling totally uncomfortable I have to keep telling myself that that is only how I feel, to the locals it's just another nude person. I have now relised that if I want to tramp with this group soaking naked is part of it, everytime they tramp they onsen.
50% of the people I ask say "no way, no bears in Oita" the other 50% say "oh yea, we have bears in Oita!". Who knows. The locals don't seem too.