10th & 11th August 2019: Once in a lifetime – The Great Fuji-san Adventure

So hm… Guess who got into their head that they wanted to climb Mount Fuji [富士山]? *raises hand* Exactly! I was already toying with the idea in 2018 but as mentioned before, this one time I wanted to scratch as many things off the bucket list as possible, so… There I went. EfT decided she was crazy enough to want to come with me though.

So off we went. We packed snacks, water, and everything we thought we might need (gloves in my case, that I eventually lost, and a ridiculous amount of layers). After a big lunch, we took the Shinjuku Expressway Bus around 4pm on Saturday the 10th and arrived at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station [富士スバルライン五合目の小御嶽神社] around half past five. We (she) had booked a mountain hut at the Seventh station so we “only” had to climb two stations, right? Right.

Right about the time of taking this picture it had sunk on me how much of a bad idea this had been (≧▽≦).

My first step was buying a Fuji-climbing stick, because (you’d never guess), stamps. Well, and because it actually helps climbing (and unclimbing (≧▽≦)) and you can get stamps burnt into it as you ascent – for a price, of course. Climbing Fuji can get expensive. So off we went up the volcano using the Yoshida Trail [吉田ルート(登り側)].

The first hour was easy enough, there was light and it was almost a path. Then sunset came, and while it was pretty, it brought darkness upon us (yeah I’m being literary on this). Not that I had a problem with actual darkness, but other people’s torches kept blinding me, which made the most difficult parts hard to climb – because people are idiots who point their lights forward and not downwards, where the ground is. Sheesh. There were parts that were just a hilly way up while others were stuck rocks or lava flows that you had to climb with your hand and feet.

We made it to our “mountain hut” at the Seventh Station, appropriately called Seventh Station’s Torii-so [七合目 鳥居荘], at around 9pm. We had been told it was the one with the red torii, and it was a sight for sore eyes.

After a small riff-raff with the owners – who claimed it was to late for food – we managed to get the dinner we had booked and then we were shown to the common dormitory where we got a futon and a blanket around 10pm. The idiot next to me decided to lie on the blanket instead of under it, so she had me uncovered half the time until she left. Thankfully she did so around 11pm because she was to see the sunrise at the top. After a small freak-out because my stomach decided that it did not want to digest the curry, I managed to get a few hours of sleep.

We were woken up by the noise around us around 4am, and we got outside to see sunrise. Sunrise from Mount Fuji!!! I mean… I can’t even.

After coffee (yes, I’m addicted enough to carry coffee to Mount Fuji), we continued on the way up. To be honest it was not as bad as I had imagined – as in I was rather convinced that I was not going to be able to make it, especially during the night freak-out. My painkillers kicked in and I only felt a small buzz between the ears as pressure changed. I think I lost my gloves on the 9th station. We saw a group of people evacuating an injured / ill climber – we awarded them like a million karma points. I remember hugging some torii on the way, and a million thoughts twirling in my head.

And then we made it. Around 11am we were at the crater. I could not believe it when I stopped in front of Kusushi Shrine [淺間大社 奧宮 久須志神社] / Top of Mt. Fuji Yamaguchi Shop [富士山頂上 山口屋 本店].

Of course I had to get all the stamps and the shuuin and the Coke bottle. We decided to go around the crater to the actual top, just a handful of metres higher, because it would add some 90 minutes to our trek, and we preferred to just hang around the crater for that long. Because I was at the freaking crater of Mount Fuji!

After an hour or so we set on our way back down – the trail was a zigzag of boulders and volcanic sand, so it was even more exhausting than the ascent. But we also made it – thank you, Fuji-climbing boots for the Decathlon Children Section for not letting me down, literally!! We were also super-lucky with the weather, we only had a few clouds just under the crater, and it was not too cold even for me – and no rain!

We actually made it with some time to catch our bus, so we looked at the souvenir shops and Fujisankomitake Jinja [冨士山小御嶽神社].

As we left, we could see Mount Fuji in all its glory, and I could not believe that I had actually been there!

However, the downfall had to come, and it came in the bus, about 20 minutes into the ride home – once I stopped moving, my body completely shut down in pain. My back spasmed, headache hit, left knee got stuck, and the roadtrip was hellish. I did not want to have any dinner even if I knew I needed it, but a hot pot in the conbini managed to draw me and it was exactly what I needed!

Walked distance: 10th: 9988 steps / 7.14 km; 11th: 21107 steps / 15.1 km. However! This damn thing does not take into account that I CLIMBED A VOLCANO!! I mean, come on! Some of those steps had a 70 cm difference in height! I managed to do it, and I feel damn proud of myself for it, and I will forever proudly display my Fuji-climbing-stick as proof of the feat. Also, just so you know 11th of August is Yama no Hi [山の日] (Mountain Day) so this was ironically well-timed, even if by pure chance!

I know that hundreds of people climb Fuji every year, but for me those almost 3,776 metres represent something special. Yes, I’m a sap. You don’t like it, go read another blog ☆⌒(ゝ。∂).

Advertisements

January 4th 2017: Takao-san, the tengu mountain

For some strange reason I got into my head that I wanted to go to Takao-san, a mount not too far away from Tokyo, in the city of Hachiōji. From the summit of this 599-metre mount you get pretty sights… if the weather is clear. Which of course, was a no-go. EfficientTimes decided to tag along, so off we headed to “climb” a mountain – more like hike it up and then down.

There are different routes or trails to go up and down Takao-san. The “easy” route (trail 1) is paved and is the most walked. You may either hike it up completely or take the ropeway halfway. EfficientTimes hiked while I struggled my way up.

Mount Takao is said to be the dwelling place of Tengu and Daitengu, and about three-quarters up there is a Buddhist Temple, Takaosan Yakuōin Yūkiji.

2017_01_04_takaosan

From the top of the mountain we got to guess mount Fuji. But it was there, and I have proof, albeit it has been a bit ‘enhanced’… Sorry that it does not look any natural, but here you have the original and the manipulated image:

2017_01_04_fujifromtakaosan

Coming down Takao-san, we took trails 6 and 4, because EfficientTimes wanted to do the suspension bridge, because… reasons that I shall never understand. (Un)fortunately, we did not run into any tengu or related yōkai. On the bright side I did not break my neck \(≧▽≦)/. That is always a plus. Oh and we ate warm dango.

After that we met up with Belle for some karaoke and later on EfficientTimes headed home to be with K. while I went off with Belle to have some quite amazing sushi down in Shinjuku.

2017_01_04_sushi

December 30th 2016: Water & lights

I headed off to Enoshima to meet with my friend Mk-san, whom I met in Gackt’s birthday party in July. By pure chance, I caught a glance of Mount Fuji again.

2016_12_30_fujifromenoshima
Together (with Mk-san, not with Fuji-san ~ヾ(^∇^)) we went into Enoshima Aquarium, which was one of the few I had left in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. The highlight was the focus on algae and seagrass, because the jumping fish did not seem to be in the mood for jumping. Oh, and kira-kira jellyfish!

2016_12_30_enoaquarium

After the aquarium and lunch, I headed back to Tokyo and I stumbled upon one of the L’Arc-en-Ciel’s “Don’t be afraid” billboards.

2016_12_30_dba

Then I met up with K. and EfficientTimes in Nakano Broadway for a bit of shopping before we headed out to Tokyo Dome to watch some Winter Illumination.

2016_12_30_tokyodomelights

Later we went to Tokyo Station to see the lights in the Marunouchi side and had some avocado burger in a random Freshness we came across. And it was cold. Very cold. Awfully cold. Finger-ouchy cold.

2016_12_30_marunouchilight

December 28th 2016: Find all the things ( ・`ω・´)!

One of the items in my calendar this time was visiting the three Dragon Gates of Tokyo. These are three torii gates that have been carved in stone and have an ascending and a descending dragon on each one of the pillars. The legend says that touching the dragons will bring you good luck.

The first gate is located in the grounds of Koen-ji, which is a temple. The gate is a bit to the side, in a small adjoined shrine to the left of the main building.

2016_12_28_koenji

The second gate I visited is in Mabashiinari Shrine, about 15 minutes walking from the previous one (which I chose to hit first because it is closer to the station). As this is indeed a shrine, the torii is pointedly displayed, as it is the second one on the main entrance.

2016_12_28_mabashiinari

Although I would have wanted to hit the three gates on one day, going back and forth between the first two and the third was not a good idea. Thus, I headed off to Shinjuku to check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building as the day was very clear. And bingo, it worked, and I managed to see mount Fuji in the background. Being a little bit of a geek, and since both observatories were open, I decided to climb both this time (just in case the stamp was different, of course!). Then (also of course) I was doing some shopping around…

2016_12_28_tmgbfuji

And since I was in the area, I decided to go back to Isetan, having devised a plan to get some images of the kimono. Which succeeded. And then I saw other people taking pictures, so I shielded myself with them and took some, too. You can check them out at SemiRandom.

readatsemirandom

After that I met with EfficientTimes and we went off to find some of Gackt’s Gakucchi and Hyde’s Chupacabra crane games. For this we headed off to Odaiba, where we had a chance to look at the Winter Illumination, especially the Rainbow Bridge looking… well, rainbow-coloured.

2016_12_28_odaibalights

2016_12_28_rainbowy

Then we went to say bye-bye to the Gundam in front the DiverCity and had some food inside. Somehow I feel like I’m talking about food all the time (*´∀`*)ノ… This was very yummy and the writing on the algae cracked me up.

2016_12_28_gundam

2016_12_28ramenish

As we did not find the Gakucchi nor Chupacabra in Odaiba’s Venus Front, where we had read they would be, we backtracked to Shinjuku to search for them. We did not manage to get the stuff out of the crane games but we got the bags that you got with putting 500 ¥ into the crane machines…

2016_12_28_catch

July 10th: To the sea

I was debating between Nikko and Kamakura, but when I woke up for some reason I felt more like Kamakura. The day was as awesome as the previous one had been miserable and I headed off to Shinjuku to get myself an Enoshima-Kamakura pass.

Just as I had not liked the sales lady from the museum, the Odakyu sales lady was adorable. She cheered me up (≧∇≦) with her “Woah, you speaking Japanese surprised me” for me, which was quite sincere, by her eyes. After getting the pass, I headed off to the train and got ready for the trip. I was lucky because I could do both parts sitting down in preparation of what was to come. I know Kamakura/Enoshima, you walk a lot.

My first stop was Hase-dera, a temple I had not seen the previous time I had been there. They had a very pretty garden, and I really enjoyed the view and the buildings. It holds a standing Buddha, and they make yummy dango, which I tried.

2016_07_10 (2)

2016_07_10 (1)

After that I headed off towards Kotoku-in, which holds (or does not hold, as the building was long ago destroyed) the Daibutsu (Great Buddha). As impressive as Nara is, I think I like this one more, as the serenity it transmits is quite amazing. Two university students came to ask me a few questions and they were horribly nice, they wanted to know how I knew Kamakura, and what was the best / worst about service in Japan. I think I broke their stats, but they treated me to a candy.

2016_07_10 (3)

I really wanted to go back to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, which is a Shinto Shrine in Kamakura, a bit away from the other two, so I used my unlimited-trips-in-the-area pass and went to the corresponding station. The shrine was just as I remembered. The fun part now is hunting down the Shrine and Temple seals. While I do love the omamori, the calligraphy is more affordable and keeps better.

2016_07_10 (4)

2016_07_10 (5)

2016_07_10 (6)

Finally, I decided to head off to Enoshima over one of the temples I was considering, just because I wanted to go to Enoshima. And Enoshima delivered with the best view of Mount Fuji I’ve ever had. Repeatedly. Changing with time as sun set. And it was amazing.

2016_07_10 (11)

In Enoshima I went to the Enoshima Shrine (you guessed it, I got my calligraphy), laundered money, and walked around the whole rock to visit the dragon – an invoke him with a taiko drum, that you had to hit nikkai (twice) as the girls behind me informed me. They were also very impressed with my technique. If I got something from my taiko workshop, that was how to hold the baton and hit.

2016_07_10 (7)

2016_07_10 (8)

2016_07_10 (9)

2016_07_10 (10)

There is one thing I did not confess though, and that was that I miiiiight have skipped lunch that day (must see all the things? I ate dango and ice cream! And some yakitori!) so when I came back to Komagome I stopped at Coco and had a good dinner, because I was a bit on the ravenous side. Unfortunately, however, the ride back was standing, albeit it was good that I could leave the backpack on the floor.

15 August 2014: And then there was shiny

I like Ueno Park just because I do, and off I went again, maybe for the fourth or sixth time. In Ueno station we had awesome ramen at a franchise called “Ichiran” where you buy a basic ramen card from a machine, and are then given a card (Enlgish version was available) to mark off what you’d like on it and how. It was delicious (The bits that are missing on the picture are pork slices and spiciness level). There are different styles of ramen, and this one is Hakata ramen from the Fukuoka Prefecture.

140815_ichiran_1

140815_ichiran_2

After that we took a stroll down Ueno and ended up at the Tokyo National Museum, which holds many important pieces of historic art:

140815_nationalmuseum_1

140815_nationalmuseum_2

Leaving Ueno, I headed towards the Minato ward as there were a few thigns I wanted to do. One of them was visiting a special corner of Shiba-koen, and then I wanted to go to Tokyo Tower.

140815_TT_day

Within Tokyo Tower I visited the Aquarium. It did not host sharks, sadly, but quite a few interesting species, among them catfish, one of them seemed very intent on trying to eat me.

140815_TTA_catfish

140815_TTA_scorpionfish

There was also this fun sclupture thingy of scaled Tokyo Tower and Godzilla.

140815_TTGojira

I climbed up the main observatory (well, did not climb, took the elevator) to watch the sunset, grab a bite to eat and take lots of pictures. You should appreciate Fuji with its summer cap in one of them 😉

140815_TTView_1

140815_TTView_2

140815_TTView_3

Once the sun is down, Tokyo Tower is lit, inside:

140815_TTlights

And out:

140815_TTnight

I love Tokyo Tower, and going up to the observatory always makes my Tokyo trips feel more complete! I got myself an omamori and a model I have to build, if I eventually find it in the luggage chaos!

July 16th 2012: Umi no Hi!

Monday 16th is The Day of the Ocean, and it started great – the sky was super clear. That means we were able to see Fuji! I had not seen him since I was here, not even on my way to Osaka because it was cloudy. It is difficult to see Fuji in Summer, so I was really happy to catch him.

Fuji =D

The morning, however, was to be spent in Yokohama. The first stop was Chinatown, where I got to meet an old ‘friend’ of mine, whom I had been craving to see for a long time, in one of the temples. But that is its own story. (Basically: I got to see a dragon sculpture I loved)

Chinatown – Entrance

Chinatown – Kwan Tai Temple

Chinatown – Miao Temple

Afterwards we moved to the Port of Yokohama to see waves!! the famous skyline and the Yokohama Bay Bridge, along with lots of pretty ships which were open to visit in celebration of the Umi no Hi.

Don’t miss the ferry’s wheel

By 5pm, however, we were back in Tokyo because we had tickets to the theatre, more particularly GACKT’s Butai “MOON SAGA ~Yoshitsune Hiden~” at the Akasaka ACT Theater.

Being guionised by CLAMP, I expected a high body count [Spoilers from here] but I was surprised. The play is prepared as part of the whole Moon Saga project, so it does not focus in GACKT, who has surprisingly little stage time playing Yoshitsune. The play has all the elements of a CLAMP story – tragic love, honour debt, child with preternatural power, a few deaths, a character who randomly changes sides but in his heart he still belongs to the original side, main character forced to kill a friend, lots of angst… The butai tells the story of a group of fighters as they embark themselves in a war against the evil mononoke who are destroying Japan. Yoshitsune’s character himself is a half-oni or has an oni inside him, something along.

As I said, GACKT did not have much screen time, and to be completely honest, his spotlight was completely stolen by Saotome Taichi, a barely legal actor who plays Kage (Shadow), one of the good mononoke and who has a beautiful CLAMPian on-stage death.

Yoshinaga, one of the original companions, loses the love of his life, changes sides and tries to kill Yoshitsune, awakening the demon in him. GACKT flies through the stage during the fight and in the end Demon-Yoshitsune kills his old friend. The curtains fall soon after GACKT desperately cries over Yoshinaga’s body. Very sad. Very CLAMP.

The actors come back onstage, they are ovationed. The curtains fall again, the lights remain off. The curtains are drawn, and we are back to the beginning, the companions are alive and well, has it all been a dream? A foreshadow? Is this the companions’ destiny? But no, they are not companions… they are family…

[End Spoilers] It seems that when GACKT talks of the Moon Saga project, it means that you need to know all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the story. Each of the pieces seems to be part of a great jigsaw that will come together to form something absolutely amazing.

Well played, GACKT, well played. Now shut up and take my money, because this is going to be EPIC.

Read more about Moon Saga:

readatsemirandom