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Tuesday, September 23, 2008



P.T.O. (PEOPLE TOGETHER FOR MT. OGURA), a new citizens’ environmental and cultural action group, founded in Kyoto, March 2008

Ogurayama, the beautiful dome-shaped mountain rising on the northern side of the Hozu Gorge as viewed from Arashiyama. A mountain quite unique in its literary associations – from the courtier poets and poetesses of Heian through Priest Saigyo (who had his first hermitage there), Fujiwara Teika (who compiled the karuta collection of 100 Poems by 100 Poets there) right down to Basho (who wrote his Saga Diary there), Kyorai and later haiku poets.

To Mount Ogura
that morning has come
of early winter showers;
when, only yesterday,
all four directions dimly glowed
with red and yellow leaves. (Teika)


Today, Ogurayama is a 'forgotten mountain'. On the one hand, it has become a storehouse of wildlife – kingfishers, little cuckoos, deer, wild rabbits, monkeys and so forth – for its varied forests comprise both broadleaf deciduous and broadleaf evergreen, with coniferous sections, too.

On the other, its environmental problems have become severe. PTO and its volunteers are engaged in tackling the rampant pine disease, in replanting, in maintenance of the bamboo groves on Ogura's lower slopes, and in collection of rubbish tipped illegally and its future prevention.

We have recently won three security cameras from the City Hall for use at the worst of the dumps. We are helping to restore the mountain to a healthier condition as well as guiding people along its charming ancient paths, many of which are in poor condition. A collection of contemporary poetry, Ogurayama Hyakunin Ikku/Isshu – both celebrating and lamenting the mountain today – is in the process of completion (anyone composing verse while walking over or along the foot of the mountain may contribute). We work so that Mt. Ogura will once again become a true inspiration for people who seek enjoyment of natural beauty, and will find its rightful place again in the living local culture of Sagano.

We are in the process of recruiting volunteers (free) as well as members (¥1,500 per year to 31 March 2009). If you aren’t able to visit the mountain and wish to contribute 'from afar' you can deduct the ¥500, which is the insurance policy we pay for members who help from time to time on the mountain itself. If you have already been to Mt. Ogura and seen the problems for yourself, how about supporting us? If not, just come along and help, with your labour offered as donation. Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

Best wishes,

Stephen Gill
Sagano, Kyoto, Sept. 2008
on behalf of P.T.O., whose other officers are Okiharu Maeda, Yoshio Kawagoe, Mieko Nakatsuji, Yoshio Takada, Akitomo Suzuki and Manabu Hayashi

Mt. Ogura hiking events include: 27 Sept. (Sat.), 11 Oct. (Sat.), 23 Nov. (Sun.). Please come! Rendezvous: 10:00 JR Saga-Arashiyama Station barrier. Bring drink, packed lunch, walking shoes and rainwear if necess. Events will go ahead in moderate rain. Distance to walk: generally 4 km. There is a bamboo fence repairing workday on 20 Sept. and pine plantation dead tree removal workdays on 4/18 Oct., 1 Nov. and 6/20 Dec., too. These will not go ahead in rain.

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