I don’t know what happened to the last two weeks except for Thanksgiving, my birthday, our anniversary, and a few colds. Many thanks to the two or three of you who are still hanging in there.

Today I am going to tell you about strollers, and why they are the most overrated baby item you will ever buy. Sure, they have their uses; since we are wimpy and frail, we often appreciate having one handy in case our backs just can’t manage another day hauling Maggie in a carrier. But in most any country that is not the United States or Canada, they aren’t really worth the trouble thanks to the lack of ramps and the excess of stairs.

Case in point: our friend recommended heading up into the Japanese Alps to visit Takayama and while we were at it, take a day trip to Kamikochi to see the glorious fall foliage. I was skeptical, having been raised in the heart of New England’s leaf-peeping web, but mostly game. And sure enough, I was knocked flat on my ass by the splendor of Japanese foliage.


Is that not stunning? Maggie was appropriately awed as well:


Shocked and awed, I say. Shocked and awed. But as we went through the loop, we saw some truly splendorous sights. And then, oh…and then…


Our day could not have gotten any better. And it’s a good thing we thought that, because it did not. In fact, it got quite a bit worse.  The weather started like this:

Spectacular, no? Crisp day, perfect for a 5-mile walk through the woods with no way to get back to base except by hoofing it. Alas, about 2.5 miles in, and about as far away from base as we could be before turning back and completing the loop, things quickly degenerated into this:

That is Tom, carrying our daughter on his front and our stroller on his back, sacrificing any potential dryness of his own in trying to keep our miserable daughter from experiencing additional discomfort while I tried to keep our backpack and enormous DSLR camera dry. Thanks to his efforts, she was not the least bit damp when we returned. Tom and I, however, were utterly soaked through, mostly thanks to a little “Fuck you” windstorm and torrential downpour that topped the last half-mile of the hike.  Thus was the stroller just the additional bit of icing on the cake; a heavy load to carry when the going already kind of sucked.  We could have done the whole trip with her in the carrier or walking when it was sunny and left the stroller at home but as the saying goes, if you can’t be a good example you’ll just have to be a terrible warning.  So here’s your warning, folks: leave the stroller at home unless you are physically unable to cart your kid on your back.

A nice elderly couple in fully repellent rain gear offered to take this photo of us so you can appreciate the pathos of the situation:

Aren’t we cute?  This was right before we discovered Maggie’s pants were really too short and right after she threw that darling rainbow hat into a puddle.

Wet and cold, we slogged back to wait for the local bus to come around and take us back to Takayama. The base lodge was selling hot Japanese steamed buns (I cannot WAIT for the search terms that phrase is going to result in) for about 100Y each, and we packed our faces with those tasty hot morsels.  Everyone has the Top Meals Of Their Life, but I have to create a new subcategory: The Top Meals By Circumstance. There surely was nothing remarkable about the tuna sandwich I ate immediately after I gave birth except that I had just given birth in a liability-panicked hospital and as such hadn’t eaten anything in 13 hours.  Thus did the steamed pork-filled buns earn their way into the Number 2 spot on my Top Meals List: the buns that warmed our hands and thawed our frozen souls on the bus from Kamikochi to Takayama.

Was it worthwhile? The foliage was glorious, and everything dried reasonably well before we had to pack and leave for Kyoto the next day. And, of course, monkeys and steamed buns and a bit of blog content.  So overall, worth it.

But don’t bring a stroller.  I beg you.


3 thoughts on “Kamikochi

  1. It seems it always rains in Kamikochi. On my visit in 2007 it also rained! But at least hot nikuman tastes even better if you have it drenched from the rain 🙂

    I posted a link to your sweet post on our Hida Takayama facebook pages. Look for us if you like!

  2. While I am thrilled the fall foliage didn’t disappoint, I could kick myself for missing that oh-so-crucial piece of advice to not bring a stroller – I guess therein lies the difference between watching other people struggle with a stroller when we lived there and having the horrible memories of having to do it myself. Never fear – my comeuppance will come in about two more months when I suddenly have my own bundle of joy to lug around. Keep the posts coming … can’t wait to see what you thought of Kyoto!

  3. Pingback: All That Glitters… | Traveling Monkeys

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