Kachou Fuugetsu: Flower Bird Wind Moon “experience the beauty of nature, learn about yourself”

Mount FujisanUpdate 03/17/16: Ka Chou Fuu Getsu “Flower Bird Wind Moon:” an Exlorer’s Guide to Japan’s Wild Places now posted!

(October 17, 2015: I’m continuously updating a new page with landscape and nature pictures from around Japan. Check it out!)

The Japanese have a word, or words in this case, for it: 花鳥風月kachou fuugetsu which literally means Flower Bird Wind Moon but commonly translates to “experience the beauty of nature, learn about yourself”.

Sometimes, in the middle of, say, big-city Tokyo, it may be hard to remember that Japan actually has quite a bit of nature, even within city limits. It’s kinda like when I was growing up in Toronto: in the working-class neighbourhoods where I lived, the seas and rivers, forests and mountains that graced souvenir postcards of Canada seemed a world away from the railroad tracks, parking lots, and concrete-covered playgrounds where we jumped our bikes and played tag as kids.

Dusk, FujisanBut out of sight does not mean out of mind, if that makes sense, and so it is with all that wilderness in The Great White North: just because all that open space and beauty and freedom was hardly even a twinkle in our jaded eyes didn’t make it any less real. Same in Tokyo. Just because it’s the biggest city in the world doesn’t mean it can’t have some wild nature on its doorstep, or outskirts at least…

Pam and MountainAnyone who knows me, or who’s browsed through these blogs, knows by know that I like to go for hikes and paddles and so on out of doors. It’s my way of, to quote Ishmael, or rather Melville,

driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea. (Moby-Dick)

Mount Mitakesan, Tokyo… or, at least, head out of doors for a little shinrin-yoku forest bathing or whatever. So, from time to time, R. and I wander farther afield: to Chichibu or Okutama in western Tokyo; the wilds of Oze National Park or Mount Yatsugatake further afield. At least once a year, we try to venture further, to the cedar rain forests of Yakushima, or the active volcanoes of Hokkaido, or the jungle and mangrove swamps of Ishigaki. Occasionally I’ll even climb oh, say, Mount Fujisan

I’m starting Kachou Fuugetsu as an imprint of Big Sushi, Little Fishes to blog about these trips, these places. In words and pictures, same as always, I’m going to record my observations not just of the places but – to the extent I can – of myself in them; to record how I might affect these places and, more to the point, how they affect me. A psychogeography of Japan’s great outdoors, if I can apply that nebulous but resolutely urban term to these non-urban explorations.

Mount Mitakesan, Tokyo“Here be dragons”, the old maps used to say of unexplored places. Let’s see what we find…

By the way, I also created a Kachuo Fuugetsu “set” of photos on 500px.

Of course, for adventures and misadventures outside Japan, I continue to post blogs to my other travel blog, Exit Booted, including photo blogs and stories about Banff in the Canadian Rockies, England’s Lake District, and the French and Swiss Alps.

Mount Mitakesan, TokyoMount Mitakesan, TokyoMount Mitakesan, TokyoMount Mitakesan, TokyoMount Mitakesan, TokyoMount Mitakesan, TokyoMount Mitakesan, Tokyo


3 thoughts on “Kachou Fuugetsu: Flower Bird Wind Moon “experience the beauty of nature, learn about yourself”

  1. Love the significance of “花鳥風月”. Can’t wait to get in touch with Mother Nature sometime soon, especially when the weather gets warmer (hiking!) Thanks for sharing the “psychogeography” approach, by the way.

  2. Yes, can’t wait ’til the days are longer and the temps are a little more amenable to spending time in the mountains again…

    Thanks for the comment! Still working out whether “psychogeography” has a useful distinction from what the Situationists were up to, and the flaneurs before them. But I like the sound of it: “psycho-geography”. It certainly sounds like something focused on the impact of our environment on our sensibility. Have more reading to do on this…

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