We woke up at 6:15 to get packed and check out. I brought a backpack, but Anna went without hers since we knew this trail wasn’t nearly as hard as jomon-sugi. I had raincoats, first aid, candy, a cup, towels, money, dude plush, umbrella and tissues.
Went to the dining area for breakfast which was a very traditional Japanese breakfast with lots of little things. There was miso, fish, sausages, beans, umeboshi, tamagoyaki and natto. It was all delicious, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t finish the natto. The squishy slippery texture is just too much for me T_T
Today was the big day! The big hiking day that is. Of all the plans for our vacation, we knew this day was going to be the most strenuous. After we woke up very early around 3:00-3:30 AM I went to the dining area where our breakfast and lunch bentos were waiting for us next to some bento for other people in our hotel who were also doing the climb to joumon-sugi.
After suiting up we headed to the front of the lodge to meet our guide Wada-san who was already there. We found this guide via a friend of Anna’s. He lived in Seattle and Canada in Seattle for a few years so his English was pretty good, he just had difficulty remembering some words, but I had no trouble understanding him at all. The drive to the area where we’d take our bus to the bottom of the trail took almost an hour. It was still very dark because it was so early in the morning. During the drive it rained a bit, but later stopped. Continue reading →
Compared to other days of our trip thus far, we didn’t have to wake up too early this day. Anna picked the hotel so that we’d be close to the ferry which made things a lot easier first thing in the morning. The ferry we were taking was a “Toppy” boat which is a high speed boat. There are photos inside the ferry building that show what the boat looks like when it’s going full speed. There’s a fin on the bottom of the boat, and at full speed only this fin is touching the water.
Boats aren’t my favorite thing in the world because I’m not a good swimmer (I suck at floating too). The boat went pretty fast, but it’s still a large boat so there’s only so fast it can go. The boat has two levels and its seats are arranged like on a plane. Usually when I think of a ferry I think of a boat that’s so large you can walk around, and look over the railing and stuff, but this boat had seat belts. On rare occasion these boats have hit whales O_O I took a bunch of photos of some beautiful landscapes, but slept during most of the trip because I was starting to feel a little bit nauseous. Continue reading →
This was by far the most relaxing and casual day that we had in Japan thus far. We started off with a nice breakfast then headed off to the shrine in Anna’s hometown.
It’s pretty high up so the walk up was very steep. I knew that in only two days we’d be on a 10 hour hike so when my legs were feeling a bit tired I got even more anxious about our trip. The shrine was empty except for the people who tend to it, so it was nice and quiet.
We took photos and did the purification ritual with the ladles of water you use to wash your hands with. We also bought some cute good luck charms of our zodiac animals. I also took photos of the many large spiders that I saw O_O Continue reading →
Day 6 started off very early, but I didn’t complain because I knew that Anna was up until very late planning our trip and cleaning the apartment. We left around 5 AM. We had to get to the Tokyo station to get our JR passes. We got to Tokyo station around 6:30 and asked for directions, but it turned out that the office didn’t open until 7:30!!! Oh nooooooes. We were meeting a friend of Anna’s in Hakata so we’d have to tell them that we were going to be a lot later than we thought.
The JR office was in some other part of the station so we spent the next 20-30 minutes trying to find it. Anna was pretty sleep deprived so I did my best to ask for directions. Note to those whose Japanese isn’t so great, ask staff people at a desk if they have a map they can point to “sumimasen, chizu ga arimasuka?” We went all around, up escalators, down escalators, up and down long hallways. There were plenty of maps in the station but I wasn’t sure if the JR offices listed were the one we were looking for. Finally we reached a dead end, and Anna stayed with our luggage and I went to ask for directions one more time. Continue reading →
Day 5 was a relatively light day in terms of the things that we had on our schedule, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t busy all day long and still totally pooped by the time we got home. Our first order of business was going to Shiro-hige cream puff factory which was a few train transfers away, but totally worth it for the Totoro cream puff deliciousness we had sought after for so long. We’d eaten Anna’s Totoro cream puffs which were inspired by the originals but finally we got to eat the real thing!
After a 10-15 minute walk from the train station we arrived at the bakery. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but I suppose if all the cream puffs have to be reserved through phone then it’s not really a browsing bakery. The main display case has Totoro cream puffs inside it and along the side are baskets of several individually wrapped cookies. Continue reading →
We had heard that in order to really see the action at the Tsukiji Fish Market you have to get there really early. Only problem was that the train system doesn’t start until around 5:00 AM which meant a very early alarm clock. We ended up catching something around 5:30 AM and after some other navigational difficulties we met Anna’s college friend at Tsukiji.
Anna’s brother had given us a printout of tips for the fish market. In a nutshell, be careful and stay out of the way. They really weren’t kidding, this place is so busy with activity it’s the only place in Japan where I felt unsafe. Not in terms of getting mugged or anything, but just from all the fast moving vehicles and people moving around everywhere. These guys are seriously busy and I’m sure they’re not thrilled having tourists gumming up their walk ways taking photos. Continue reading →