There's a hint of a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccine appointments in my area were supposed to open up this morning. I received my card yesterday. I got through to the web site, but everything was fully booked, I discovered after a fruitless while. I can try again next Tuesday. June 1, the Tuesday after that, 200 more venues (hospitals, clinics and medical centers) are to open. Two more kinds of vaccine were approved for use today. So sometime within the next I don't know how many months I might be vaccinated. It is maddening and saddening and depressing. I had hoped to be able to start the travel/research portion of the next book. But no, not as scheduled, not as planned, and I have no idea when I'll be able to do so.
The rainy season seems to have started early, so it's raining not all day every day, but often enough and always cloudy, and when that's done, we'll be slammed with steam-bath summer on top of the grinding humidity that will go on for who knows how long -- sometimes in September, if we're lucky.
I feel constrained, restricted and trapped. I can't even get out to play in my tiny garden while it's so wet. Already the humidity is so high the air feels saturated and it can be almost be hard to breathe, especially when climbing far too many stairs. I have a thing with stairs. A serious karma issue here. I can't seem to get away from them.
Maybe I could change my mood. It wasn't raining every single minute. I stuck an umbrella in my pack together with my hiking poles, hopped a train and went for a walk. Not all that far from here is a most unusual valley through which runs the Yazawa river on its way to the much larger Tamagawa. It's etched a ravine that shows off geological details, has a wide range of forest habitats, an attractive temple, some pleasant small shrines, some historical ancient tombs, and is known for being several degrees cooler at the base by the river than at street level.
It was fifty plus steps from the street to the river, so that'll give you an idea how deep it is. Yeah, stairs. I should have known.
Of course, there is a shopping town between Todoriko station and the park entrance. Those are not real birds. Although there are plenty of pigeons in Tokyo, there aren't really as many of them as one might expect, and apparently aren't enough birds in general. These are sculpted birds, a neighborhood mascot and valued resident, it seems. I think these are azure-wing magpies (onaga) if I can decipher both the colors on the picture surmounting the usual shopping street sign and lamp bar, and what a nice neighborly woman said to me. Just as it started to rain. Again.
There's a handy thermometer that tells you what the temperature difference is between above and below (about 2.5 degrees C today), just before you descend many, many stairs to reach the river below. There you start along the narrow path that winds along the bank to go under what's called Golf Bridge, because there used to be a very large golf course close by, a hundred years and more ago.
Here you can see the geological layers that tell the history of this ravine. There's a sign that explains them but I didn't feel like memorizing it and didn't think to take a picture. I was thinking about people coming out here to play golf and how this has become a pleasant part of Setagaya, part of the 23 Wards of Tokyo.
Further walking follows the course of the river past some mound tombs that might have been interesting if they hadn't been blocked off in enclosures for now and a little museum, closed for COVID. There weren't any turtles in the river, which interested me. I expect the place teems with mosquitoes in the summer, as indeed a sign warned me that it will. I heard no birds, which surprised me, and I saw no wildlife, except a couple of college students. It's close to a Tokyo University branch campus.
I did see the foliage zones that range from Zelkova trees to marsh grass at they go up the sides of the ravine. It's well marked. There's a sign that explained it all, but once more I forgot to take a picture. It's pretty, though.
The park ends before the Yazawa reaches the Tamagawa, and, having climbed many, many, many stairs (at least five full flights; maybe it was six) to determine that the classically attractive temple is mostly closed for COVID, one can either walk back along the streets of this pleasant neighborhood or descend to retrace one's steps along the bank of the river. It started raining, though not badly enough for me to pull out my umbrella, so I stuck to the streets. Anyway...stairs.
I got home just as it started to pour again, so that's something. And here, at least, there are no stairs!