November 22, 2009;
The two hour wake-up earlier last night didn’t seem to affect me too much. I guess I got enough sleep. We missed the first train on our adventure today but they run every five minutes so we were OK. I am physically slow, but Yoko is even slower than I am. It feels strange to have to wait for anyone. Nathan’s I Phone is really essential. He uses it constantly to make sure we are on the right track, Literally.
There hasn’t been the tension between my son and me this trip that there has been in the past. Since he went on his gluten free diet for celiac disease, he feels much better. That has allowed his great personality to finally show through again. He’s not nearly as snarly as he once was. Of course his finding Yoko has a lot to do with it too, I think.
I could have used my winter coat this morning if I had brought it. I was told I wouldn’t need it, but that was not including going to the top of a mountain. The weather in the morning is cold by Texas standards. All I have is a sweater and a jacket. I didn’t wear my gloves or scarf. My ears, nose, and hands were quite cold.
The riders on the train are fantastic at balancing. I was whipping all over the place and hanging on to the plastic hanging grip with white knuckles while the others just kind of stand there. The grips are just the height of my head so I’m frequently getting banged in the head.
We had a great tour guide by the name of Take. He said to remember Saki and we would get his name. He said Tokyo city has 8.3 million people and the entire Tokyo prefecture has 12 million. That’s 1/10 of the entire Japanese population. There are 26 cities within Tokyo. It was constant buildings and people for miles as I gazed out the bus windows. I thought Fort Worth was getting bad with 600.000 people.
After driving for miles, we finally left the city and headed towards the mountains. The clouds were low and the sky gray but it was easy to imagine the beauty of the fall leaves in the sun. The fall season is almost over, but there is still much color.
A track was pointed out that was being built for the next generation of bullet trains that is expected to be running by 2025. They will travel at 300 mph which is twice as fast as the current bullet trains. Fantastic concept!
I truly had a wonderful time. The bus was very modern and comfortable. The gate to the mountain itself was closed due to low clouds so as an alternative we drove to a Shinto shrine. We were not allowed into the worship area itself but could see in. Ceremonies were being held for children aged 3,5,7 celebrating health and happiness for them. I was totally in love with all the beautiful little children running around in their traditional kimonos. We found out that for a long time life on infants was so hard that many of them did not live on. The Japanese celebrated these ages because their children were still alive. After seven it was more assured that the child would continue to live.
I’m finding my brain is totally teflon. Yoko is trying to teach me to say please and you’re welcome but it just isn’t sticking. I’ve got thank you and hello down and friendly good morning (o hi o) but that’s it.
The summit of Mt. Fuji was playing hide and seek with the cloud coverning. The gates were still closed after leaving the shrine so we proceeded to the restaurant Highland Resort for a lovely noon meal. It was pleasing to see Christmas trees and Santa Claus. We were informed that 1.7 million Japanese claim Christianity, but Christmas is for everyone, especially young couples and children. That’s sounds familiar! Yoko said that not many of the older Japanese bother with decorations after their children are grown. That also had a familiar ring to it. Fort Worth has several Japanese restaurants now so the meal was not a complete surprise. It was very tasty. No surprises there. It was an ordinary bento with a variety of tastes, rice, and red miso soup.
Back on the bus again, the eternal student in me volunteered my name to be written in Japanese. I was delighted to hear that my name has the meaning “Buddhist temple”! Isn’t that cool?
Words of interest for the day: I saw an ad for a sports drink called Pokari Sweat. I think I’ll pass on something like that.
We took a cruise on Lake Ashi in a very smooth running boat. There was no sense of being on water. The boat took us to a cable car operation call Hakone Komagatake Ropeway. After an entire morning and midafternoon of clouds, we finally had a clear view of Mt Fuji from 3,000 ft up the mountian. It was undescribable but so DAMN cold! The guide said we were quite fortunate in that he is only able to see the mountan from on high a couple times a month. What we were denied at ground level was revealed above. That sounds kind of spiritual doesn’t it?
I had a wonderful time joking around with Nathan and Yoko and meeting a woman from France and another from Thailand who were in Japan on business. There was an absolutely gorgeous young Thai woman on the trip with her new husband on their honeymoon. It’s such a treat to open my world to others from around the globe. I have been in cable cars before, so there was nothing to worry about. I just enjoyed the views.
On our way back home, what should have taken two hours took three due to traffic conjestion. It was as bad as rush hour traffic. Yoko said everybody who got out of the city was returning home. For much of the way we crawled about 10 mph.
We stopped at a rest stop for a bathroom break and to purchase snacks. I had my first surprise. all but two of the toilets were sunk into the floor. They are called washiki. I didn’t think my thigh muscles would allow me to squat and get back up without any hand grips to aid me so I opted for the longer line at the familiar (yoshiki) toilet I so dearly love. Once inside I saw pictures of how to use it. You are not to perch with feet on the seat nor are you to face backwards when you sit. Good to know.
At least once again I encountered a warm seat. The restroom was like many in the US…open door and no heat. There was only cold water and no soap, but at least this one had a cold air hand dryer, not like the restroom at the base of the mountain, The US should start importing those hand dryers instead of the whimpy ones I find most often. These dryers are on steroids I swear. I’d hate to direct the stream of air towards any child less than two. They might end up in OZ. I kid you not.
At the family mart I had an opportunity (which I declined) to purchase dried octopus, squid, a combination cheese and fish stick, or dried mussels among other treats. I didn’t of course. I opted for cheese crackers called Cheeza and a bag of nuts for over $5.00. Food is expensive here.
On our tour we passed Denny’s, KFC, McDonald’s, 7 Eleven, Big Boy and Jonathan’s among other US restaurants. I think there is a global conspiracy to ruin the diet of all in the world. We are determined to make the whole world unhealthy and fat! The guide said it is a status symbol to be seen carrying a box of Krispy Kreme donuts now.
That was pretty much my day! It was wonderful. I even slept better last night and stayed in bed until 6:30 am this morning. Today is the day we go to the spa…just Yoko and me. Yahoo!
Day three is awaiting. Namaste. Attic Annie