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I don’t know if Desperate Housewives is still on, but I sure did get a whole lotta “Wisteria Lane” last week and during Golden Week when I went with one friend to visit another friend and see the Big Wisteria (大藤 – oofuji) in the small, small town of Kurogi, which is now a part of Yame City. We had lots of fun eating, drinking homemade ume shuu (plum wine), exploring the mountainside, and watching episodes of The X-Files.

Usually, my friend told us, the wisteria is in full bloom by mid to late April, so we went down there one weekend before Golden Week. But since the winter had been unusually long, it had barely started to bloom, and I couldn’t even smell anything. I did get some interesting shots, however.

The plaque letting us know the big wisteria is a national treasure. Also, creeper cameramen in the background.

One of those reporters finally got the courage to go up to my friend and ask if she would do an interview, but she said no. Can’t say I blame her.

Don't know if these are roots or branches, but they're very interesting.

Looking up. It was a dreary day.

I named the file "wisteria gazebo" but it's not a gazebo at all. ^o^; It's more like a "viewing deck."

After looking around at the wisteria, we went to the various stalls and stores lining the main street. I got some yakiniku, and one of the shop guys asked me if I was from Sweden. @_@ Guess it was my lack of an English-speaker’s accent that threw him off.

Then we went to a coffee shop, got some lengthy stares (including one from a young mother who just looked surprised and delighted beyond her wildest dreams; it was pretty weird), scared small children and customers with our mere presence, and got ignored by the shop pooch. Luckily the friend who lives there said the people that know her are really nice and take care of her, and any of her students that we ran into greeted her cheerfully.

At the end of the day, since the wisteria had been a semi-bust, and none of us had plans for Golden Week, we decided to take a last minute trip to somewhere, and return to Kurogi as well.

When we did go back, the wisteria was in full bloom and exuded a soft fragrance. However, because it was Golden Week, there were many more people than previously, and I couldn’t get many shots without the wild assortment of kids running around, poorly dressed young & middle-aged people, and well-dressed old people.

Lush & Fragrant

Here you can almost see just how far the Big Wisteria spreads out.

Here's a crop from a much larger photo so you can see the flowers more clearly.

The Big Wisteria isn’t the only big plant in Kurogi, there’s also a huge Camphor tree (樟 – kusu) at Tsue Shrine (津江神社 – Tsue Jinja). It is over 800 years old, dating from the Heian Era. We didn’t really have much time to stop and look at it, so I couldn’t go to a spot far away enough to get the whole enormous tree in the shot.

I was kneeling down, hence the warped perspective. I swear I always try to straighten my photos before I post them! XD

So, that’s it, the expedition to see the purple hanging flowers.

Speaking of expeditions…

Side Post: Goggies R Owr Friends ~ Winged Goggies

(XD Sorry…too much time spent on LOLCats…)

*Ahem* Anyway…to get to Kurogi, we had to pass through Hainuzuka Station (羽犬塚駅). “Hainuzuka” means “winged dog mound.” There are several statues of winged dogs in the area, such as this one directly in front of the station:

When dogs fly!

So what’s up with these critters? There’s a board at the station explaining the origins of these winged doggies.

You can also see photos of some other winged dog sculptures on this board.

Here’s my translation of the board’s text:

Legend of the Winged Dog

There are various monuments of winged dogs scattered throughout Chikugo City. The origins of “Hainuzuka” lie in legends of a winged dog that have been passed down from generation to generation for about 400 years.

One legend is that a long time ago, there was a fierce dog who had grown wings that would attack people and cattle. The people feared this dog.

In the 15th year of the Tenshou Era (1587), when Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who strived to unify the land, came on an expedition to Kyuushuu, his path was blocked by the winged dog. Hideyoshi sent forth more and more troops, and after a great struggle, was able to kill the dog. Impressed by the dog’s wisdom and strength, Hideyoshi built a mound for the dog and properly buried it.

Another legend is that, when Hideyoshi came on an expedition to Kyuushuu, he brought along a dog he adored. This dog would run and jump about as if it had wings. But, the dog became sick and died here in Kyuushuu. Hideyoshi, overwhelmed with grief, built a mound to have a proper funeral for the dog and buried it.

Even now, the winged dog’s burial mound is at Sougakuji, quietly watching over this town as time flows on. How about taking a stroll while feeling the romanticism of history?

次回!Every day is Hell.