When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn't block traffic." - Dan Rather


Japan trip
Day 15 - 20th June - Mt Fuji
(Part 1)

[Ed: If Imageshack is still down, you can view the pictures on Facebook, albeit in a smaller size]

Japanese place names can be easily translated into Chinese, since almost all place names can just be directly translated from Kanji to the appropriate Chinese character (though it makes it hard to ask for directions unless you write it out, especially given how Chinese-speakers can take the translation for granted and not remember the Japanese pronunciation). Yet, in some places they do it for Korean also; my understanding is that Hangul's relation to Kanji (through Hanja) is more distant than Chinese and Kanji.

Besides my hostel room being very crowded, it was also falsely advertised: my room had no aircon (at night it was okay though, this being an advantage of a civilised climate even in summer)

Although the forecast for cloudy, the forecast for Matsushima Bay gave a 100% chance of precipitation.

I set out to visit Mt Fuji this day (but not to climb it).

More Japanese Snake Oil. When the Japs give the "Bagus!" sign, it's a good bet it's a "Nogus".

Breakfast: Hot dog with Yakisoba, egg mayonnaise, chicken feather sausage with ketchup and croquette inside. All I can say is that I'm happy it wasn't 100% Yakisoba filling (there was that available, but I didn't choose that).
This was also the worst vile juice I've ever had - on the same level as the worst airline juice I've ever tasted.

The transfer time at Otsuki wasn't long, so I just missed my connection (if you have the JR pass you must go through a manned gate, and I was a bit slow due to a lack of sleep). I only had to wait half an hour, but I got to "please enjoy our coffee":

"Coffee and tea refresh our minds and soften our hearts.
They are indispensable to our everyday lives.
Please enjoy the rich aroma coffee and the various tastes of softdrinks."

"Gateway Fujiyama" - guest centre at Kawaguchiko (the best of the 5 towns at the base of Mt Fuji)
I don't know why it's "Fujiyama" (the mountain is called "Fujisan"). Maybe it's to con Gaijin. Then again I saw a "Fujiyama Onsen" - maybe they can't use the Sacred Mountain's name in non-related commercial enterprises.

Train schedule

Free umbrellas - you can even bring them out of the town (probably people who deposit their umbrellas here forget to take them back - that's how they have a steady supply)

Weird music at traffic light. It played non-stop no matter which way the traffic was going. I was going crazy after 2 minutes - how do people stand hearing it the whole day?!

Addendum: Comment on YouTube from hebneh: ""Comin' Thro' The Rye" - an odd song to hear in Japan. Apparently the street crossing signals play music in Japan, I guess for people who can't see."

My hair was still smelling of the onsen, despite my washing it the previous night. Gah.

I took a bus up to the 5th Station of Mt Fuji (where everyone goes and most climbers start from). It travelled through fog (which would've made a good photo) but broke through the clouds at about 1.6km, where it was sunny (but there was no view of the ground around the mountain).

Rare Y2000 note

Summit from bus. The white line in the latter picture is a camera artefact and not an eruption.

"No more dredging up of Ancient History for political benefit" (yeah right)

"Foolish Mountaineers" - a monument to 2 fools who attempted the mountain unprepared and died horrible deaths (my conjecture)

World Heritage site lobbying. Nice try.

What I was supposed to see

What I actually saw

Map of the upper part of the mountain

Volcano dessert

Making amends for abusing Korea for half a century (and the Chinese thought they had it bad...)

"Packed in this can is the clean natural air you can breathe only when you are at Mt. Fuji"
Canned air from the summit. !@#$. It comes in 2 varieties: air from 2,305m and air from 3,776m. !@#$%^&*()

A most strange place to sell English garden potpourri

Mt Fuji-brand food

Urging you to save water (maybe the Japs instinctively do so, since there was no Japanese sign). I like how the price has changed (damn inflation)

Almost as strange as English garden potpourri: Breast balls
"oh..baby.. that feels gooood ... Just try before you buy. It feels goooooood..... For age 5+ years" (I found they sold this at Bugis Junction also, and only slightly cheaper, which was surprising due to both the Japan and Mt Fuji premium)

Presumably the Kamikaze Headband from here is more powerful than the one I got at the airport, due to the war flag. Too bad I don't have exams to wear them to anymore (job interviews, on the other hand...)

I hadn't seen most of these before. They mean, in turn:

must win
kamikaze(god like wind)

Mt Fuji Hello Kitty

They had some Hello Kitty products labelled "For sale in Japan only". Uhh.


View from carpark (it cleared up, but not enough to see what lay beneath)

(The dimmer pictures are the more faithful ones)

"Happy Voodoo Doll" (?!)

They had Mt Fuji bottled water (maybe it's actually the Y25,000 Lake Kawaguchi water). Gah.

There was a chewing gum vending machine, and windup sushi toys with wheels (maybe it's to replace conveyor belt sushi - instead of the belt bringing sushi to you, the sushi brings itself to you!)

Thai sign in Japanese shop. Maybe it reads: "The spicy food in Japan too wimpy for you? Never fear, this will sate your palette!"

I decided to take a short walk to the waterfall, not least since I had time to kill before my bus.

Horses for the wimpier folks

Kids riding out of the fog

This was like a "cross this gate at your peril" scene, especially with the warning, "Yoshidoguchi mountain trail is closed... So we are not responsible for your life and what you do"

Given how foggy it was I wondered if I might ever make it back


After some walking I glimpsed 3 apparitions coming at me through the fog. I thought they were Kitsune and that I was surely doomed (but that at least my fate would not be unpleasant), but then I noticed that besides not speaking in the artificially high voice that almost all Japanese women use, they were also talking in English. They turned out to be 3 white male hikers who'd hiked up from the base of the mountain (presumably they chose this option as it was cheaper/easier than hiking to the summit from the 5th station)

Scrubby landscape

Izumigataki 'Waterfall'. No wonder no one bothered to walk to see it.

Rolling fog

Path back, and fog

Loamy soil

5th Station marker

Me. I forgot to get a picture taken when the summit was less obscured. Oh well.

Vending machine drinks at the 5th station had a 25-33% premium. Oden, though, was Y500. Damn Oden auntie.

Mt Fuji air packaged for easier breathing

Commercialisation: the shrine is swallowed up by shops

Wherever I went I got a Wall of Japanese despite my obvious inability to comprehend it. I was wondering if I got it because I looked like I might be Japanese, so I asked the 3 Ang Moh hikers I'd met in the mist, and they said they got it too, so.
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