Monday, March 14, 2005

Japan #13 - Fuji

(At the end of August/beginning of September 2004 I took a pleasure trip to Japan. I meant to have all the blog postings done in the first week, I'm now on track to have it done within 90 days months of the trip.)

Trip to the Fuji Lakes
For those playing along at home, there is a political map of Japan here.
From Nara, we traveled by regular train to bullet to train to regular train to the most crowded bus I'd ever been on. It would have been one thing if it was an 'American' bus, but everything on this bad boy had been shrunk by at least 10% (on the plus side, it didn't stink like an American bus). Big Americans + sheetload of luggage = crowded drive (but having grown up with five brothers and sisters in a Toyota Tercel, I was conditioned). It being typhoon season, I had low hopes of seeing anything of Mt. Fuji (another map, and another), and I was happy that I did get to see parts of the base.

For those not in the know, Mt. Fuki has five major lakes. From what I read, only one of them is fairly development free. Our hotel was on lake Kawaguchiko. Apart from the beef feast the night we arrived (..oooh baby..), a only couple other things spring to mind about this part of the trip....

There's not a lot to see and do outside, so when we arrived, I went about scoping out where the onsen was in the hotel. While wandering around in the lower levels, I saw various conference rooms full of salarymen doing boring stuff, but then there was one particularly large room with around two to three hundred dudes in it. I saw a guy running around in the fashion of of a cheerleader, and when I looked closely (dammit, can't take it back) I saw it was a short, chubby Japanese MAN in a school girl sailor outfit. That in and of itself was bad enough, but then he was going around to the guys (hopefully) pretending to get fresh and they in turn were eating it up. I ssslllloowwwly backed away from the door in the hope that whatever look I had on my face would not be seen.

One other thing of 'note', the lake Kawaguchiko station, which was the queue area for all bus and train transports out of that immediate area, had the nastiest bathroom I can recall ever being in, and I've used third world outhouses! The stink of urine was enough to knock you on your feet within fifty feet of the place. It was quite crowded and had no soap, no paper towels, and no toilet paper (which in Japan is a mild blessing, take it from me, if you go take your own).

My son guards the luggage for our trip up the mountain.

On one hand I wonder why I don't see these over in the States, but on the other hand, I don't.

This is like a gumball machine, but it's a cotton candy machine where you put a 'quarter' in and collect the cotton candy with a chopstick - super cool.

The view of a hillside in the morning from our hotel room (A pretty nice place, sorry I don't have the name anywhere).

This is the garden that was out in front of the hotel; and of course no Japanese garden would be complete without a statue of a naked woman.

Have I mentioned that the Japanese are experts in sewer lid artistry? It would appear that this lid is even specific to the lake by which it is located.

On a walk around the lake I almost got a facefull of this spider. It's body was almost as long as as a quarter. (I think it's this one).

This view from the departing bus is typical of what I got to see of Mt. Fuji. I was happy since it exceeded my low expectations that had been set due to the weather.

Of all the places we stopped in our trip, this was probably my least favorite (one of them had to be it). It was a long trip in and out, and the area with it's foggy mountain sides and gaudy tourist trap feel had an oddly familiar feel. One of my friends on the trip figured it out and exclaimed that it was a "Japanese Gatlinburg!". Don't get me wrong though, the area was beautiful and at the very least I'm glad I went so that I could say that I had been (did I mention the beef? ohohohoh...).

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