Itoigawa City– Niigata Prefecture – Japan
Golden Week; May 3rd-7th gave me five days to go south and hunt for Japanese jadeite. I’d tried to get down to Itoigawa twice last year, but the weather was against me. I’d planned on camping, and was washed out the previous occasions. This time the weather was sunny, so, after an eight hour drive to the southwest along a quite scenic coast highway, I reached Itoigawa, where the Southern Alps hit the Sea of Japan. It took me a little while to locate the campground I’d seen on a map.
Part 1 of these notes covers my trip to the Oyashirazu Pier, the Jade Museum there and my interaction with the local jade hunters. In Part 2 I shall relate my adventures in the Kotakigawa Gorge and exploring the ancient Jomon village of Chojagahara.
In about 2,500 BCE the Jomon village of Chojagahara, situated on a hill overlooking Itoigawa, was the center of a trade network providing jade for beads and stone axes to Jomon settlements throughout Japan. But by 700 AD jade ornaments had fallen out of fashion and the source for the jadeite was lost. That source, in the Kotakigawa Gorge, wasn’t rediscovered until 1939.
Note for Gem Geeks–a very detailed article on Japanese Jadeite can be found in this issue of the official GIA magazine: GEMS & GEMOLOGY, SPRING 2017, VOL. 53, NO. 1
After a pleasant week in Pokhara I returned to the big city. Soon after I got back to the Potala Guest House I was walking over to a friend’s gem and jewelry shop when I encountered a parade of school children. They were all wearing their traditional clothing so I had to stop and take some photos.
I took the Greenline Bus to Pokhara and was there for Holi, which was a bit more laid back than Kathmandu would have been. I like using the Greenline Bus Company for several reasons. First, it leaves an hour later than the cheaper Tourist buses, and second, it includes a buffet lunch in the ticket price. Lunch is always served at a very nice riverside hotel about half-way between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Being a buffet, it is easy to just select the vegetarian options.
This year, due to a scheduling conflict, I couldn’t get to Kathmandu in time for the big Losar party or the Shiva’s Slaves Run, but I did arrive during Losar and got some great shots of the Boudhanath Stupa with it’s new top and strung with colorful lights.
Zamskhang Palace Ruins
Tegar, Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley, also called the Valley of Flowers, is situated in the northeast corner of Ladakh, near the Tibetan border. At one time it was located on the southern Silk Road trade route between Yarkhand, in Xinjiang, and Leh, the capital of Ladakh. This obscure corner of the Himalayas is reached from the capital by traversing the Khardung La, at 5,602 meters it is referred to as the “highest motorable pass in the world”. A special permit must be obtained in Leh before the journey can even be attempted.