anghara (anghara) wrote,

Sayonara Japan


We pretty much SLEPT through the typhoon, ladies and gentlemen, although we did individually wake up at some unearthly hour of the morning (like three or so) and peered out of the window, where it was looking pretty wild, to be sure. But it seems to have missed us, mostly, and made landfall somewhat to the east of us so that we only got the fringes. But I can now say that I have survived a typhoon. So there.

A couple of typhoon souvenirs - we found a local Japanese TV station on Thursday evening which pretty much solidly had typhoon coverage all night. We got to watch people being interviewed at JR stations which we recognised ("That's SHINJUKU!"; we got to watch scenes from the typhoon areas all over (with a little "live" in the corner of the screen, the only English word visible), we got to see the grounded Shinkansens lying in their berth, quiescent, like sleeping dragons; we got a complete kick out of the way that the entire newsroom anchor team, two men and two women, suddenly and in unison performed a perfect bow to the camera, almost touching their foreheads to the table. And then we decided that we might as well go to bed, and, well, like I said, we slept through most of it.

The following day we picked up our interrupted tour to Kyoto. We were picked up by a shuttle bus again and delivered to the Hammamosutcho bus depot in Tokyo where we were shuttled to various coaches which would take us to our destination.

We hit the jackpot with our guide. Tadashi-san conceived it his duty to ENTERTAIN us, during the long hours were were stuck in traffic still congested by post-typhoon accidents and snarls. He talked of everything, of daily life in Japan (prefacing every remark with a bright, "In Japan...[smile nod nod nod nod] or the entertaining, "According to the typhoon..."), gave us cheerful catastrophic projections of possible forthcoming disasters (Tokyo was overdue for a big earthquake, and we now know how many people would die in one; Fuju was way overdue for a major eruption...), he told tales of myth and legend, of history, he even made English puns. At some point in the trip he even hauled out paper and taught the entire bus origami. We had to make adjustments on the fly to account for closed roads and what have you so our itinerary was flexible - but first we stopped, after a long drive, for lunch in a hotel where I actually had to take a picture of the lunch setting, so much of a work of art was it, all black and red lacquerwork and food of unexpected colour or texture. Tadashi-san cheerfully promised chocolate ice cream for desert but instead we got a citrus sorbet so either the Japanese have a strange idea of what chocolate is or else the menu was as flexible as our itinerary.

We skipped out a lot of stuff, simply going straight from lunch to Stage 5 of Fuji, from whence ascent trails start up. This place is a Swiss village with a Shinto shrine. The wind was whipping up something fearsome, and we were running REALLY late, so the rest of the bus (carl_allery and I dissented, but were outvoted) decided to cut our time at the summit short and sped back down again to catch a little dinky boat to take us out on a small lake from which we had a stupendous clear view of Fuji. It was summer, of course, so no snow, no iconic Fuji that I was unconsciously expecting, the snow-capped emblem of Japan - and I was a little disappointed at that. But it was still there, still imposing, and we took an unholy amount of pictures. Tadashi-san said that it was really rare to see it so clear, that in the afternoons it was always veiled in cloud - but "according to the typhoon" the clouds had been blasted away and so we got a good clean look at it, and were privileged to do so.

On the way from the lake to the Odawara station, where we were to catch the Shinkansen train to Kyoto, we had the aforementioned origami demonstration, we were drilled in bullet train etiquette. The schedule, Tadashi-san said, runs to the *second*; bullet trains sometimes stop in a station for less than two minutes. We were warned and warned and warned not to dawdle anywhere, that bullet trains wait for no man. And we had to change - the older slower Shinkansen (Kodama)to Nagoya, and from there the really fast new superexpress (Nozomi)from Nagoya to Kyoto, where we arrived at some point after ten in the evening, tired and shagged out after a long day of sighstseeing and origami and tales of Shinto gods, and basically passed out in the room.

I am taking a break here, and "Sayonara Japan, part the second" will be done after I have my massage here in the Sakura lounge of JAL Business Class. More about that later, but man, this is the life...
Tags: japan travel

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded