Astonishing doesn’t begin to cover it.
I’m on break this week, so I decided to use the JR Kanto Pass (¥8000 for three consecutive days of travel anywhere in Kanto) to do three day trips. That maximizes the value and saves me money on hotels, but it’s going to be a busy few days. Anime posts may lag a bit but I wanted to at least post some photos as they happen.
Just today’s trip was more than the pass price. The weather looked good so I decided to take a close-up look at Mount Fuji, which I’ve only seen from afar up till now. To say that it was perfect is an understatement – the mountain was completely clear and practically glowing for the entire day, which almost never happens (by afternoon it’s covered in clouds 95% of the time). Truly, truly staggering to see it like that, and from so close.
Among the highlights was a trip up the Mt. Tenjo ropeway. Yes, the views were amazing but it’s also the setting for the “Kachi-kachi Yama” fairy tale – the story of the rabbit and the tanuki. Any fan of Hoozuki no Reitetsu will know what a ghastly tale it is, but the folks who run the ropeway have turned it into a kid-friendly kawaii-fest. They even have the rabbit (Japanese) and the tanuki (bad Engrish) narrating the trip up the mountain in the cable car. Also the fabulously ancient and atmospheric Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine, one of the two head shrines for the thousand dedicated to the Goddess of Fuji-san, the traditional starting point (after a prayer) to climb Fuji from the East, though most bypass it now to start five hours higher up. Those trees!
Afterwards I stopped at Benifuji no Yu, a bathhouse about 30 minutes from Fujisan Station. No pics, obviously, but I can now add outdoor bathing in a rotemburo with a full view of Fuji-san to my list of experience, and it’s as amazing as it sounds. Staring at that massive and perfect cone shimmering in the sun with the warm waters enveloping you… It’s very nearly a trancelike state, and it seemed to apply to nearly everyone in the bath. Also of note here was the middle-aged man with the Hello Kitty toiletries bag, and the fellow who brought two girls who looked about 10 into the men’s bath. It’s just a reminder that Western taboos about nudity just don’t apply here – this is a country where most onsen were mixed-gender until not all that long ago. But I just know that if I were a 10-year old boy, I wouldn’t necessarily want a 10 year-old girl seeing me naked. And if I were a 10 year-old girl’s father, I wouldn’t necessarily want 10 year-old boys seeing her naked. But when in Rome, as they say…