K tells me that michikusa literally means "grass by the side of the road", but in the vernacular it refers to dilly-dallying, as a horse would dilly-dally by stopping to eat the grass. I guess that's what I've been doing in a way.
The direct trip to "town" which took me 45 minutes a year ago now takes just 30 minutes as my leg muscles are slowly becoming more fit. So I feel like I can spend a little time dilly-dallying now by exploring side roads.
Which of my blogging friends recently had a post about the "road not taken"? I've been taking those roads and, as the poem by Robert Frost promised, "it has made all the difference".
I took a look at Mt. Tsukuba again the other day. This time I also rode out to the middle of Kasumigaura Bridge. To my surprise, Mt. Tsukuba diappeared all together at the start of the bridge due to the hills in between. It was not until I approached the middle that it "rose" and rewarded me with the view I had hoped for.
From the bridge I looked back toward home and central Kashima City at the south end of the lake. Our house is only about fifty meters from the antenna in the center of this next picture, though you'll probably have to click the picture for the larger version of the image in order to see the antenna.
One rarely sees a sailboat on Kasumigaura and I was thinking what a blast it would be to sail a small boat on this lake, such as the Snipe I used to sail as a kid in California or a Laser, a popular class in Japan.
I made a stop on the way back. Last year I had found this old house, and as the weather was so nice on this day I took some pictures of it. I don't know anything of its history. There has been a lot of work done putting new tiles on large sections of the roof and the storage house. It is located in a small cluster of homes that at the edge of the lake and surrounded by rice fields on two sides.
The end caps on old tile roofs usually have a family crest or crest of the religious sect on them. The ones on the roof ridges, "onigawara", incorporate gargoyles to keep out evil spirits. "Onigawara" literally translates as "devil tiled roof".
The gate of this house has a new roof, but the wood and hardware looks original and is beautifully weathered. Gates usually had a small door to one side so the main gate would not have to be opened for an individual on foot. The is a small plaque hanging on the left side of the gate which says "Kashima Jingu" (shrine) "ujigami" (local diety) to protect the property. On the right side is a box with something about a police patrol or local neighborhood watch, so I guess they are covering their bases with regard to security.
Storage houses like this one are common in Japan. There is one a short distance from our house. The walls are made with wood, woven reeds and mud, with a smooth outer finish that is usually painted white with black trim.
A few days after this ride, I made what was for me a very exciting historical discovery that goes back almost 1,400 years. I'll share it with you in an upcoming post very soon.