Searching for Kiyomi Morimo 清見森茂

Today, I made my second attempt to reach Kiyomi Morimo 清見森茂 by myself. It's not too difficult to locate using Google Maps. If you search for the neighborhood, Maps will give you a delightful outline: here. Looking on the map, there's only two ways to get to Morimo 森茂: come from the east, or come from the south. My first attempt was coming from the east in which I ran into possible trouble. Today's attempt was coming from the South, and going through the village of Shokawa 荘川.

If you follow the highway's frontage road south from the Hida Kiyomi entrance, about 15 minutes later, you'll come across a small farming neighborhood that has a road leading into the wilderness. This road continues to follow a stream as it approaches Miboro Lake 御母衣湖, Actually, right as that streams connects with the lake, you've arrived in the very southern tip of Morimo 森茂.

Today, I drove to this neighborhood, and took the road into the forest. After 10 minutes of driving, the pavement ends and turns into a rocky "dirt" road. Still traversable, but at a much slower rate.

As I continued through the forest, I actually came across some kind of neighborhood. A house on stilts stood near this turn-off. Looking at the map (36.081985, 137.002227), the road trails off but rejoined the main road not that much further, so it seemed like a "great" idea. So, I decided to drive through this neighborhood.

The roads were actually paved, but were also totally covered by dried leafs, pine needles, some fallen branches, some fallen rocks, and some fallen trees. Several times, I exited my car to clear the road for my car.

I found 4 houses packed within this neighborhood. Each house was on stilts, built in the middle of the forest. There were no cars around, so I couldn't tell if anyone actually lived in them. I would guess not. At least not anyone of our society. Bums or squatters could have been inside, but there's no way they could live without assistance from the outside world. There were no gardens, or any livelihood at all. Just an old house.

I did not pry.

However, Google Maps lied, and the roads that were certain to bring me back to the main road did not exist. I turned my car around, and went back the way I came.

With that done, I continued on my way to Morimo 森茂, and met my first obstruction: a big red gate. The gates were at this point: 36.101633, 137.001209. From the main road, these gates were about 23 minutes in. Some other cars were already parked there, and an ashed fire pit was next to the white van.

Past the gate was something I was very curious about. On Google Maps, at point: 36.114263, 136.997079, the road is cut off as it hits a connecting stream. On the other side of the stream, Maps marks a "walking only" road, which continues onward to Morimo 森茂. There's gotta be a bridge there, I thought. Or some easy way to get across.

However, if the bridge was out, and I could walk across, Google Maps says it's about a 12 kilometer walk to where I considered a downtown area of Morimo. Maps says that's a 2 hr 42 min hike, one way. From my current position, I'm walking anyway. But now there's an addition 2 kilometers to this possible bridge, which will add another 20-25 minutes.

Even though I needed to walk, I was still curious about the bridge, and walking that distance doesn't bother me. So, I parked my car, grabbed my camera, ID, and water bottle, moved around the gate, and continued to walk down the road. After 27 minutes, I reached that point on the map (36.114263, 136.997079), and HOLY SHIT! The bridge actually exists! Ha ha ha, I knew it.

But now I had a decision to make. It's about 3:40pm. I figured I could cover the 12k in about 2 hours at most, since it's a little more than half a half marathon length (23.1km). That would get me back to my car around 8pm, I think, which is past sunset, and an absolutely bad idea.

I dunno… I couldn't simply stop, though. So, I stupidly decided to continue. I'll give myself until 5pm, then turn around. Well, I didn't even last until 4pm when I came across an immovable barrier at point (36.119619, 136.988925), and immediately turned around.

As I turned the corner at that point, there was a brown bear in the middle of the road.

When I saw it, I thought it was a giant hyena, or some kind of wild dog. It was big, though. I'd say it was as big as I am. It was facing directly at me, and it clearly and immediately saw me the instant I saw it. My footsteps were making enough noise that it probably heard me coming. I immediately recognized this situation as DANGER. Without even thinking, I did a 180, and walked back the direction I came. This all happened within a second. The creature came into view, my brain said NOPE, and I am now walking back to my car.

I walked with the same attitude I had before seeing it to make it think I wasn't afraid or something. And I was surveying the ground for anything I could use as a possible weapon if thing started stalking after me. Also, I was still trying to figure out what I had just seen, and the likelihood of whether or not it would come after me, and if I were actually capable of defending myself. Which was doubtful. If that thing started chasing and attacking me, I'd be beaten down pretty quickly.

And then I started thinking of that girl who was attacked by a bear. And while the bear was eating her alive, she called her mom crying and panically explained the situation as it happened. This one: Daily Mail… sorry :(

After a few minutes of walking, and looking over my shoulder every couple of seconds, I figured it was far enough away, and that I could start running now. I checked the time as well, so I could pinpoint this location later. It was 3:56pm.

I made it back to Google's invisible bridge at 4:07pm. Still no bear behind me. And I made it back to my car at 4:28pm. Still no bear. Safe!

Again, I thought it was some kind of dog or hyena or something. It had a long face, and body more like a dog or hyena. Not a bear. Or at least, the "bear" body image that always comes to mind. Bears always seem so puffy.

Once at home, I started searching on Google to figure out what I had seen. Apparently, Japanese wolves are extinct, and any wild dogs are no longer than 100cm (or 1 yard). I searched for other wildlife in central Japan, and didn't find anything that fit the description in my head. I searched for Japanese bears, and the following image is similar to the type of animal I saw:

(This image was taken from digitaljournal.com)

It's pretty close. It's hard to trust my memory since I only saw the thing for an instant, and even though I turned around, my brain was constantly fixated on that brief visual encounter. Any details could be slightly skewed. I remember that it's face was dark, and it's body was brown, somewhat light brown. Though, it could've been in the sun, which made it appear more light. Again, it had a thin slender long face.

It's still really early in the year, so it's slender features make sense. Bears don't get their full "puffy" figures until the end of the year.

According to some other articles, most bears shouldn't attack humans, but HELL NO, I'm not going to put that to the test. As much as I would like to return to this path with a full day and a mountain bike, coming across another bear is way too damn risky.

Also, brown bears are on the list of endangered species. So, even if I do encounter another bear, and if that bear attacks me, and if I'm able to defend myself, and kill it, I'll have to pay some enormous fine, and probably go to jail. There are stories about that ALL the time despite being self defense.

I think my next attempt in the wilderness of Morimo 森茂 will be under a more official capacity, and in a car.


Anyway, the road to Morimo through Shokawa was quite beautiful. :)


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