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On Sunday night, the last ALT came from Canada, so on Monday we all went with Keis and his JTE to Mt.Haruna near Maebashi. I think the original plan was to drive half way up the mountain then park and walk the rest of the way up, but since we got a late start, we just drove the whole way there. Mt. Haruna has a large lake in the middle of it with a mini mountain in the middle. The day was rather overcast, and while cool, wasn’t the best day to go up to the top of it, so we just walked around the lake and took pictures and were generally silly.

Trying to be artistic. Haruna has some gorgeous flowers, though!

A better view of Haruna-ko in the middle of the lake!

The new Ken, also known as “Canadian Ken” or CK to distinguish him from Taiko Ken, the one we went to Tokyo with. There are way too many Ken’s in our group.

The being silly part. Keis tries to land a jump on a log, with no egging on from the rest of us whatsoever. Mmmhmmm.

End result

Anyway, after getting tired of making fun of Keis’s wet pants legs, we all piled back in the cars to Haruna Jinja, or the Haruna Shrine. As of now, that is my favorite place… it was absolutely beautiful! Unfortunately, my camera decided to run out of batteries, so I had to trick it into taking pictures, which was pretty much: set up a shot, turn on camera, hit button quickly, turn camera off before it figured out what I was doing. So I didn’t get great pictures, but here are a few:

Hanging around waiting on people below the shrine

Once again, the greenness of the place surprised me. Since it was overcast, it was even more obvious.

One of the Torii Ken and I decided to detour through. He’s just as curious as I am about things like paths; we traveled one for about 30 minutes of good hiking before finally figuring people might be waiting for us and going back. Pity; I want to travel the whole thing next time!

I could be a buddha, what do you think?

A heavily iPhoto-shopped picture. I couldn’t fix the back light, but I really liked the lion!

There were tons of buildings along the path, which eventually led to what would be an easily fortifiable temple on the mountain.

The detail of the main shrine was amazing and very beautiful!

Food items; the left is packets of this really spicy mushroom tea that I love, and the right are sweet beans from Haruna Jinja.

Definitely a place I will be back to. I’d like to see it in all seasons!