• ALEX

Visit to the Nakayama Mine Site. pt.2

and so forth. It was when I turned around from where I happened to be standing at that moment that I saw down below me

about two hundred feet away a hole in the ground, black as night. I rushed down and sure enough there was a mine

entrance and not more than 15 yards away was another and this one had the remainders of an old tin shed scattered

about and above it. Without getting too close to the edge I took a few photos and then fired up the flash on


The previous day had brought me a hundred yards up the steep hill to where I came upon a tin work mens shack that sat

smack in front of what was obviously a sealed mine tunnel entrance. The slightly open door revealed a storage shelter for

tools and supplies, although nothing much remained except for a couple of hard hats and miners lights it was apparent

that the shelter was for a couple of guys to take a break or get out of some nasty weather as well as storing gear.


The shack set hard against the hillside, I was driven to climb further up

and beyond the tin shack and into the trees to where I imaged the

beginning of this endeavor had taken place 800 years ago. Here I was

just another gray haired old guy scrambling around thinking that he

would just stumble upon some ancient archaeological site and have the

wits enough to appreciate and recognize what he was looking at.

Brambles, loose footing, no gloves or guide, all I could do was trudge.






After a good 30 minutes of struggling I hit a cliff face

of soft pastel colored stone that was easily 50-60 feet

high raising above the tree line, overly vertical I inched

my way around and up to the left of the face. There I

soon reached a point of no return, I had scrambled

up a bit too far so that now looking down it was

dangerous to backtrack, it looked way too vertical below.

So all I could think of was to climb up further while taking

breaks to contemplate my situation.








Eventually, after doubling back along the cliff several times I reached the top where there was a plateau and where I

found evidence of "man" in the form of a long old rusted 1 inch cable, a cement anchored post for the cable and a few odd

bits of tackle. This looked like the uppermost portion of a bucket cable system for moving stone down the hill. But

something was not right with the setup. The anchor post was set back 10 or more feet from the edge of the 60 foot cliff

that overlooked the whole valley. To harvest stone from the cliff below, why have the cable way up here?

After foraging around for a few minutes I found what looked like the surface entrance to an old mine that was dug down

into and alongside a seam of the awasedo strata, The hole was filled in with rubble but I could see the remains of a pit

mine depression, and this would give a logical meaning to the cable leading to the valley below. I wasn't yet at the top of

the hill and as i walked I found that the crown of the hill now gently sloped.


For the next hour I wandered up and over and around the top of the mountain/hill and found faint traces of an infrequently used trail, a scattering of survey markers and all this while enjoying the lovely views as I circled

around to the other side. The path came and went with overgrown ferns and scrub while on the far side of the mountain I found that larger trees prevailed with some bushes along with thick layers of loose stone under foot.






Before long while in a controlled skid I came up to the crumbling edge of a drop-off

and looking down below I could see lots of scattered flat sided rocks. Gingerly descending with caution after picking my way well over to the far right, all the time realizing that I was alone with no help nearby in case my 65 year old body needed its ass hauled down the mountain side, I swung around and looked back up hill I saw this depression above me. A 10 foot high weathered face of raw stone, the same kind as I saw below but at a much higher elevation. This was most likely the highest elevation I had found and the stone had all of the dominate indicators of Nakayama toishi kawa skin as we know them to have: rich black that sparkles in the sunlight as larger grains, the orange, ochres and burnt umbers of almost leather like qualities.


I did pick up a few samples here while making the video above, but only small ones so as to cut down on pack weight. The

site was virtually untouched and all the stone was highly oxidized and strewn as if it had collapsed as it lay. I had a rough

idea where I stood on the mountain and down below me was a deep draw with on the near side the same steep sides I had already scampered down from above led uphill to the right and down to the left. It was raining pretty heavy now, and to preserve the last semblance of dry clothing I now had to my name for the bus ride back into town, that being my tee shirt, I stripped and went native topside. For the sake of thoroughness I decided to walk up the draw to the right but found no signs of mining there. Being now about 4 hours into my jaunt this down hill portion was easier although I had to tack back and forth across the draw because of fallen trees and shrubs in the wash. On the further side while catching my breath I happened to see through the trees a huge cliff rising above the trees, a cliff of pure and rich stratified awasedo stone of all different colors.


Quickly I realized that it was that same 60 foot high cliff that I was on earlier, but here was a view from a distance so I

could see the whole scope of it. I worked my way over to there and found really great faces of stone, pastels

and so forth. It was when I turned around from where I happened to be standing at that moment that I saw down below me about two hundred feet away a hole in the ground, black as night. I rushed down and sure enough there was a mine

entrance and not more than 15 yards away was another and this one had the remainders of an old tin shed scattered

about and above it. Without getting too close to the edge I took a few photos and then fired up the flash on


my camera to illuminate the interiors. The flash foreshortened the photos but it allowed me to see down inside. The first

hole was dug pretty much straight down into rock, maybe 10 down before it angled out of sight towards the hillside. The

second hole was dug right near a huge jutting boulder and seemed to follow the angle of the bolder and go underneath

and follow the contour down and out of sight. I climbed on top of the boulder and over and found that both of the mine

shafts were angled under a large upwelling of awasedo stone so that they were digging under and alongside the strata. Of

course I did not lower myself into either hole (no ropes or partners) so I could not tell how deep or far these led. These

shafts were in the deepest part of the draw, the shed pieces easily looked 50 to 75 years old, it was hard to get to this

spot and I only managed to after I had climbed up and over and around a whole bunch of fallen trees and brush, while all

the time prodding with a stick ahead of myself looking for a pit fall false ground covering.


After a while I roamed the area above and beyond and found enormous amounts of loose awasedo stone scattered

everywhere on the ground, large and small, all weathered so that it split easily and most likely knee or waist deep layers. I

climbed out of the draw and found even larger amounts of all colors and strata. It all looked like a war zone of rubble just

left to its own suffering many years ago.


Now getting late in the afternoon I was a mess. My pants were covered in mud, after the rain the mosquito's were getting

hungry and I was so tired and hungry that I was loosing directions. For the last time I dipped through down through the

draw and generally followed the cliff around through the trees. I hit a sunny open area and just dropped and sat for at

least a half hour, maybe longer. I wanted to relax and digest what I had seen. I wanted to draw some conclusions while

there on site, I longed for some inspiration and to relax surrounded by the nature if it all. I wanted something simple and

complete to come freely to me.


I sat there and eventually I pulled out my knife and began to sharpen it,

this is one thing I had come here to do, to sharpen my knife here out in the open.

That as it turns out was what I needed, I was at peace and the flow began.




More thoughts and conclusions in Part 3.






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