“Banka” (晩夏) the Japanese word for late summer, can sound perfectly blunt or quite wistful depending on how you say it. In Kamikochi, it is now clearly the “twilight” of the season and, with the autumn banging down the door, it’s time to take stock of some of the things we’ll be leaving behind.
Recently, of course, we’ve had a string of beautiful days, punctuated by a little rain here and there. Vibrant days and increasingly chilly nights are a good sign of what lies ahead.
One thing you’ll be seeing less and less of at the turning of the season is bugs. For some reason, the ones that remain are especially attracted to thistles, as seen in the photo above and also of this image of a ladybug (easy to miss on first glance):
And here we see an example of Actea asiatica (here doubled over due to being caught in a spider’s web). As its nickname “banberry” suggests, it is highly toxic to humans and certain other species such as rabbits. The berries, in particular, cause a dangerous relaxation of the heart muscle. Despite the plant’s alternate name of “bug’s bane,” it has also proven a popular perching spot for the park’s insect life.
And, of course, there’s plenty of other seasonal plantlife on display, such as the aster (whose English name comes from the Greek word for “star”) and our old friend, monkshood, on the right:
Lastly, we have what I believe is a type of clematis, from the buttercup family of Ranunculaceae:
As I write, the peak of autumn is still a month away and there is much to be savoured in the vestiges of summer. We hope the fine weather will continue and we’ll all be able to enjoy the mix of sunny, temperate days and cool, crisp nights in the weeks to come. As long as the weather holds it’s one of best times to visit. Check the weather forecasts then plan and pack accordingly. (Remember thos layers!)
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Soruces of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net