Japan Diaries: Day 4

Day 4 December 22, 2014:

It's a cloudy day today. It looks a bit gloomy but I won't let that stop me from fulfilling my plan to revisit Eiraku Dam today. I have discussed the plan with my wife and it's a go. Hence I can't postpone my plan.

I headed out quite early. Though my wife decided to stay behind to rest because her energy was drained during the previous trips. Well, I don't want to force her too because I calculated that the trip to Eiraku Dam and back would take at least 4 to 5 hours. Plus I would just be walking during the whole adventure.
Yay! Snow!
Walking route around the dam.
Halfway during the trip, snowflakes fell and for the first time I got to experience an event like that. The snow didn't built up though and melted within half a minute. After the brief admiration I continued on. After almost an hour of walking I finally reached Eiraku Dam. I found out the it was actually a part of the Okuyama Ameyama Natural Park. Aside from the walking course around the Eiraku Dam site that Mr. Toshi and I drove around two days ago, there are also some trekking courses on the high hills around the park. Above some of these hills were observation posts or viewing decks where one can perfectly view the park. 
You can see the observation/viewing deck from one of the hills
This pathway leads to the viewing deck
Pathway around Eiraku Dam
I got the chance to trek one these hills by accident. It was at about two thirds of the walking course when I saw a sign (written in Kanji). According to a local who translated it for me, the sign directs me to a place with a panoramic view. I got intrigued and followed the uphill path. Thirty minutes later, I found myself on a clearing on top of the hill. A few meters from the clearing is the viewing deck. I rested in the viewing deck while admiring the beautiful view that I'm seeing. I also took plenty of pictures before heading down the hill.
You could see the viewing deck from here
Enjoying the view of the park
The view from the viewing deck
I went down using the same path that I used when I went up and then finished the walking course around the dam after. I bought coffee from a vendo machine a few meters away from the dam and proceeded home. 
1500 meters away?

On the way home, I saw a sign pointing to a place called Ameyama Ruined Castle. Of course the idea of seeing a castle for the first time (even if it was just a ruin) made me excited so I decided to take a look. 
The torii gate
To my surprise, the castle ruins was on the peak of Mt. Ameyama or simply Ameyama. Since I already walked at least 500 meters from the jump off point I decided to finish what I started until I reached the peak. After entering the torii gate, I was confused and disappointed because I couldn't see any castle ruins. 
The supposed location of the castle ruins
The Ameyama Shrine
Enjoying the view!
However, to my delight, there was a hiker's cabin on the peak and in front of it was the Ameyama Shrine dedicated to the Ameyama Dragon King which the locals believe to bring rain during times of drought. After several minutes of looking at the views and taking pictures, I decided to go down the mountain and head back home. Later on it dawned on me that despite my disappointment of not seeing a castle or ruins, I was still lucky to have conquered my first mountain in Japan.  It took me another hour or so to reach the Kameyama residence. I was tired yet very fulfilled. 
Some fun time in the mall with Ella
My day didn't end there though... That night we headed to the mall and had a little bonding with our Japanese family and when we got home I still had a chance to walk Tomato (our Japanese family's beloved dog) and bond with Mr. Toshi at the same time.

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