I had an overnight stay in Nanto, a city in Toyama Prefecture and had a very pleasant run this morning. Air was cool and the area was lovely.

Rice is growing very well. Farmers should have a very good harvest this autumn.
There was a grey heron sitting on a rock in the middle of rice fields. It flew away when I tried to take a better photo.
On the roadside were these cute and beautiful flowers. These are the pleasures of running in a country side.

I love to explore different areas when I run. Actually, I cannot stand running in the same area. It may be from my background that I was a cross country runner in high school and college.


The official approach to the local shrine

In our neighborhood stands a "black gate" and a signpost. I've walk passed it many times, but I finally took a look at it closely and found that the signpost was from 1745. It was donated by rich merchants and popular Kabuki actors of that time to mark the entrance to the shrine (Inokashira Benzaiten) for the spring and the small lake in Inokashira Park which was an important source of drinking and utility water for the people of Edo, the capital of Shogun's government (the city is now called Tokyo).

The area is now packed with houses, but when the signpost was built, it was in the middle of a forest. This area was considered quite remote from Edo, but people used to jouney here to pay respect to the sacred spring. The recently erected explanation board next to the signpost says that there were others like this one along the way to here from Edo to guide the travellers.

Above, the stone signpost now stands in front of a coin laundry.
The signposts has names of then famous actors etched at the base stone.
This is what the approach looks like towards the shrine.
The statue of "Ugajin", a god of agriculture / grain - looks like a white snake with a head of an old man.
Here's the last bridge to the shrine.

Close-up of the shrine.
Still, many people come here to worship.

Bananas growing in Tokyo

The temperature dropped significantly in Tokyo since last week and it is now much cooler and comfortable.

Still we had a very hot summer and we definitely feel the effect of the global warming. Summers are hotter and we encounter more violent weather changes - more frequently every year. This summer, we experienced highly concentrated sudden rainfalls that we never used to have.

All the bananas I've bought in grocery stores came from Philippines, Ecuador, Taiwan, etc. but have never seen home-grown ones. But here, just 10 min. walk away from my home grow banana tree that is bearing fruits! This may be another effect of the global warming.

Here's the close up. These really are banana fruits.


Local Run

I caught a cold after coming back from my trip to North America, so couldn't run for about 10 days. I am finally over it and resumed running. Here, I am posting some scenes from my run in my neighborhood.

These three pictures are of the Ghibli Museum. It is so popular that you need to purchase time & date specified tickets before hand. The second picture shows the ticket office. Totoro sits there. At the top of the roof stands the robot soldier from Castle in the Sky.

This is a 1947 photo of a bridge that spans over the train tracks of Chuo Line. The man photographed walking down the steps is Osamu Dazai, a famous author that used to live in Mitaka.

This is what the bridge looks like now. It does not look all that different, except for there are many buildings around it.

This is the view from the bridge.

The view of the bridge from the north side of the train tracks.

San Francisco run - mainly

After Vancouver, I had a chance to fly down to San Francisco - another beautiful city in the West Coast of North America.

I am posting pictures I took there, mainly from my runs.

I checked the map and ran on the streets and beaches to the Golden Gate Bridge. Running to the bridge was a pure joy. The top of the red toweres were hidden by the clouds, giving me the sense of how grand the structure was.

I finally got to the foot of the bridge and touched the "Hopper's Hands" before heading back to the city.

San Francisco is definitely a city of hills. You can get very good workouts.

Here's a picuture I took of Alcatraz Island.

At Pier 39, there are many sealions.

A bread factory at Fisherman's Wharf - this lady was making turtles behind an alligator.

An Italian restrant featured this interesting photo on the wall - a footballer bride.