Wednesday, 14 February 2007

In Japan

I will have to wait until Jack gets time to show me how to put photos on his computer so until then this will be photo-less. Jack has taken Miki out for a meal tonight to celebrate Valentine's Day and left me with Allan. This is the first time that Jack and Miki have been out alone together since Allan was born.

Japan is wonderful and confusing. The Japanese people are extremely polite and I could never imagine the sort of deference they bestow on one taking place in England. For instance, on one of the trains back from Fuji on Monday (we actually had to take six trains and a bus) a young lady in uniform came into the compartment with a microphone and bowed a few times and then spoke for about five minutes. I asked Jack what she had said and he told me that she had apologised profusely for her rudeness in coming to ask if she could possibly see our tickets! Imagine that on the Poynton to Manchester train! It's "Where's yer ticket" if you are lucky.

Jack and I had a lovely time at Fuji. We got up to the fourth stage by road on the way up the mountain. There was a gate across the road from then on as it was deemed too dangerous to carry on because of the snow. We walked up for about three miles. Very eerie, walking along a deserted road with snow piled high each side and not a soul in site. We then took a footpath and started our descent. We would not have been able to go much higher partly because of time, and partly because we were not equipped for proper mountain climbing.

Be that as it may, the snow through the forest was at least two foot deep in places which made it extremely difficult to walk. I cunningly got behind Jack so that I could put my feet in his footprints. Well in theory that was what I was trying to do but in practice Jack's stride was so much greater than mine that I kept falling out of the footprints and onto my face. Gradually it got less deep and then we could put our crampons on, and this made everything so much easier. I kept on remembering that we were in bear country. I had been given instructions on what to do if we saw one: back off slowly, don't run, leave an offering - a hat or gloves maybe and don't EVER go back for the offering!

That evening we stayed in a beautiful hotel, very reasonably priced. Lovely evening meal (although Jack grumbled about not having enough) and then it was off for a traditional Japanese bath. Routine is to shower thoroughly first and then rinse off all soap, shampoo etc. and then gingerly step into a hot bubbling tub. This was outside on a balcony and imagine my delight when a firework display across the lake lit up the sky. Never been in a bath before to the accompaniment of fireworks. One of the lovely things about Japanese hotels is that they leave yucatas (a cross between a kimono and a dressing gown) on the bed for the guests to wear and it is expected that guests wear them while in the hotel. This was marvellous as I could get out of my smelly, sweaty walking clothes.

Next day we walked back into the small town of Kawaguchiko and took the cable car up to the top of the hill and then had a very pleasant ridge walk for a few hours. I waited until we were actually in the cable car before I admitted to Jack that I was terrified of cable cars. Walking back to the station to catch the train to Tokyo we wandered in and out of shops looking for postcards and tacky, tasteless momentos. I wasn't however prepared to pay an enormous amount of yen to buy a model of a rabbit doing something unpleasant to a racoon.

This coming weekend Jack and I are off to stay with Miki's parents and there is a slight possibility of a ski. It all depends on the weather. Keeping fingers crossed.


Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Interesting post. Thanks and I shall look forward to seeing the pictures when they are uploaded. All the very best. Michelle

Ann said...

Lovely posting Jill. Mountain, forest, snow, bathing all sounds wonderful (except for bears - I would have left Jack as an offering).
Will write more in an email.
Loads of love.

lorenzothellama said...

Actually the bears are supposed to be hybernating at the moment, but you never know what the little rascals are up to.
Wish the old Maalie was here as there are so many interesting birdies and I don't know what they are. Maybe I will become a twitcher.

lorenzothellama said...

Went to the ¥100 shop today for a look around. Puts our Pound Shop to shame!

Maalie said...

Did they offer you "grilled entrails on a stick" for breakfast in the hotel, like wot they did for me'n'Jack in Hokkaido?

Me'n'Peter have just murdered ten quid's worth of rump steak (honest!) with fried mushrooms and onions, with oven-ready roast potatoes. Peter flashed a sprig of water cress over it to give it respectabilty, you would be proud of him!

lorenzothellama said...

Ann: Jack laughed at the idea of being an offering!
No we didn't have entrails for brekky, grilled, steamed, boiled or fried. We had fruit, toast, lettuce, seaweed, fried cabbage, yoghurt with strawberry jam in it, and about a week's supply of caffeine. Didn't like the seaweed, and had to surripticiously swallow it down with some orange juice. The fried cabbage was lovely, and I found some bits of bacon in it that I pretended I didn't know what they were so I could eat it with a clear conscience!
Off to meet Jack for lunch today which means the dreaded Tokyo subway. Never been on it before by myself. Gulp ...

lorenzothellama said...

Please note the new addition to Lorenzo's bird list!

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