As a writer based in Tokyo, the world’s most populous urban conurbation, I sometimes find my clarity of thought overwhelmed by a variety of superfluous sensory stimuli that pollute both the environment and my mind. Fortunately, on my figurative doorstep I have access to some fantastic national parks and natural habitats that serve as refuges from—and antidotes to—the chaotic miasma of commercial and industrial nonsense that many big cities spew forth. It is to these wonderful places that I invariably escape, not only for a quick fix of adventure, but also to refocus myself and seek out moments of balance, comprehension, and insight.
Whether extroverted or introverted, occasionally searching for solitude and creating stillness in our always on-call modern world helps us cast aside things that hold us back from developing to our full potential. When we leave distractions behind to be truly alone with ourselves and nature, it is much easier to cut through the layers of noise and see the universe as it really is. Although I don’t know how the metaphysical mechanics of the process actually work, I am certain that quietness and inspirational scenery somehow gives free reign for our thoughts to wander away on their own adventures, which often leads to interesting mental observations and discoveries.
On a recent hike up a mountain called Daibosatsurei in the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, I experienced three moments in time that I can only describe as magical. Luckily I was able to photograph them and can share them here, which will hopefully help me convey how I felt. The first magical moment presented itself as I walked along a ridgeline before reaching the 2,000-metre (approx. 6,500 ft) summit. I gazed out to see a distant Mount Fuji adorned with a crown. From the base of its dark outline a sea of clouds seemed to roll towards me like white-crested ocean waves—until they abruptly parted to reveal a placid cerulean blue lake. To my eyes the overall composition of the scene seemed to verge on natural perfection, so I took a photograph before continuing on my way. Just as I entered the next section of tree cover I turned around to get a last glimpse, but it was too late; the clouds had converged over the lake and the magical moment was over—but it had existed, and I had been there.
As I ventured onwards through the winter woodland, it wasn’t long before I made my second amazing encounter of the day. From off to my right and slightly ahead came a leafy rustling sound, to my mind distinctly more animal than human in origin. The mountains of Japan’s largest island of Honshu are home to several dangerous mammals, including bears and wild boars. As they have been known to attack hikers on sight, one has to be wary of accidentally coming across them on the trails. Thankfully, this time the noise-making culprit was much less threatening and turned out to be a deer. These creatures can be spotted relatively frequently while nature walking in Japan, but are mostly only seen from a distance. Due to their timid dispositions they usually take flight as soon as they get wind of an approaching hiker. However, on that day, that particular deer didn’t move an inch. Instead, it looked straight at me and let me get close enough to take the photograph above. As soon as I had taken the shot, the deer ran back into the forest and disappeared. The magical moment was over—but it had existed and I had experienced it.
A few hours later, midway through my afternoon descent, I found myself observing a natural phenomenon of such beauty it caused me to stop dead in my tracks with wonder. At that minute, the rays of the low setting sun were being filtered through the forest by the trees. Those that were able to penetrate the canopy were highlighted by the misty cloud vapour that had gathered in isolated pockets. The resulting effect was the most astounding magical moment of the day. I have done a great deal of hiking in the Japanese mountains. I have also travelled the world, and not once in any other place, at any other time, have I seen such a breathtaking artistic display of natural light. I was so enchanted by the mysterious atmosphere and feeling of awe it created that I desperately wanted to share it with someone else. An instant later I was pleased to see a fellow hiker approaching, but by the time he had arrived at my position the conditions had changed. Once again the magical moment was over—but it had existed and I had seen it.
After experiencing three such unique and unlikely moments during a short six-hour hike I couldn’t help feeling that the universe had decided to show me those things for a reason, but I couldn’t quite grasp the meaning behind them. Were they given to me as a reward for getting off my backside and embarking on an adventure. Were they offered to me as subject matter for this piece I am now writing. Perhaps they constitute something bigger and more profound, signposts leading me onwards, towards a destination at which I have yet to arrive.
Despite not being able to quantify the answer, I know that such magical moments in time strengthen my belief that the universe does communicate with us. It is constantly trying to whisper secrets in our ears, helping us along whatever path we may be diligently walking. Making progress definitely requires action and effort on our part, and whatever the universe wants to show or tell me may be different from what it wants to show or tell you. In order to even notice these magical moments we must be able to be quiet—we need to listen and observe. For me, escaping daily routine and adventuring into nature makes that easier to do, which in turn makes it possible to share my curious observations and insights with you.
Even if my experiences seem useless to others—which they very well may—it doesn’t really matter because you can receive your own universal messages directly if you really want to. You may find them in the petals of a flower, or between the pages of a book, or in the mirth lines of an old man’s smile. Just cancel out the noise, tune in to the right frequency and they will be waiting. After that all you have to do is figure out what they mean to you personally so that they fulfil their purpose of providing nutrition for your own personal development.
Disclaimer – A Note on Ownership and Copyright:
The photographs featured in this post were all taken by the creator of Escape & Adventure during his continuing wanderings. Consent is required from the creator and founder of Escape & Adventure before any of the images for which he owns copyright can be reproduced in any form. All the literary work contained in this post is the intellectual property of the creator of Escape & Adventure. Consent is required before any of the literary work can be reproduced in any form.
Additional Disclaimer – COVID-19 Pandemic:
While the world continues to be impacted by the highly contagious COVID-19 virus travel is not advised. Despite our love of escapism and adventure, health and safety must come first. None of the content in this post is intended to contradict the rules and advice put in place by the relevant authorities to protect citizens from contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 or other diseases. Escape & Adventure accepts no liability for sickness, injury, or death resulting from anyone failing to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.