Categories
Japan - 日本

East-Bourne (イーストボーン) Mejiro Gone

Everything changes, nothing remains without change. – Buddah

Reasonable price and comfortable place. – East-Bourne Bar

In the normal course of life change happens at a very slow pace. We do not pay much attention to the small, incremental changes that occur from day to day and it is only when we look at old pictures from many years ago do we realize time marches on and the world we once knew no longer exists. It all seems to happen so quickly as we go about our days, doing our tasks as the months and years slip by.

Take our children for example. They are growing and changing everyday but it happens so slowly that we see no difference. It isn’t until we look at old pictures and videos do we realize how quickly they are growing up. The babies we once had to keep a constant eye on are gone and this always makes me very sad as I didn’t even get to say goodbye!

Last week I was a single man at 27, yesterday I was 36 with my first child and now I am middle aged at 42. Time really is both fascinating and terrifying.

Aside from old pictures the other time that the passage of time really hits me is when I travel internationally. I spent a good amount of time overseas and in various countries. If I were to write an autobiography these international experiences would comprise distinct chapters of my life full of unique experiences, dramatic changes and completely new friends. These chapters abruptly start and end instead of gently flowing with gradual changes from one to the next. I was an English teacher and student in Japan and then I was a salesperson in Vietnam. I left Vietnam and became an airline representative in San Francisco. The changes were big and my life became very different with each move.

When I return to these countries where I spent part of my life I’m expecting to re-read the old chapters. I go to Japan every year and I’ll visit my old neighborhoods, go to my favorite bars, and reminisce. That worked for a while but I lived in Japan 16 years ago and the nostalgia has for the most part all faded away. There is always some big change year over year and these big changes have really added up.

A few of the bigger changes that have affected me are as follows.

Watami, the ubiquitous izakaya that was one of my favorites has closed a lot of locations. I went to the usual spots a few years ago but they were all closed or had changed names. Banking regulations have become tighter where I can no longer use my Sumitomo passbook as it is old and you need to have an address/live in Japan for a Japanese bank account. So it seems I’m grandfathered in but I just cannot update my account? All the young people I was surrounded by at Waseda, in the bars, restaurants and at the gym are now middle-aged with families. They have been replaced by new young people who are occupying their former seats at places like The Hub, Niku Yokocho, and the classrooms.

All of these changes hit me pretty hard this last trip to Japan. I’m no longer young, the Japan chapter of my life I was expecting to re-read is outdated and another of my favorite locations I frequented back in 2002 is now gone. Goodbye East-Bourne in Mejiro.

East-Bourne Mejiro 2002

The East-Bourne was a small bar down a side street not far from Mejiro station. I lived in Mejiro from 2002-2003 and stumbled in one evening to find a very warm, intimate bar with leather seating, dark woods, soft light and an elegant charm. There were only three beers on tap but were all premium and perfectly poured by bartenders in ironed suit shirts and bow ties.

The picture above is of my friends Ryan and Brendan who traveled to Japan to visit me. That week became one of legend and something we still talk about to this day. It will certainly remain one of the highlights of our entire lives.

On that particular evening we dressed up in suits and the East Bourne was our first stop. After that we were headed to a club called Genius in Ginza where suits were required. Doing a quick search it seems that it still exists whereas other clubs I frequented such as Space Lab Yellow in Roppongi do not.

I would continue to pop into the East Bourne from time to time and sometimes would talk to other patrons. One time it was another expatriate and I remember talking to him about the American Chamber of Commerce and how there was an employee named Bob. One time I went to an event and the sponsors were given five minutes to speak before the event happened. Well, one guy who was promoting his visa-service business didn’t end at five minutes. Bob tried to take the microphone back and the guy resisted. This lead to an awkward situation, especially when the mic was given back and Bob kept referencing that the absolute limit was five minutes and staring at the visa guy. I looked at the visa guy and he was absolutely steaming. I’ve never seen so much hate in a person’s eyes before.

I saw Bob at one of those Roppongi clubs that no longer exists surrounded by about three girls and plenty of beer. So naturally I said “Hey Bob, great to see you!” Of course he didn’t remember me but guys like Bob like to seem important and well known. With my enthusiasm and that it made him look good in front of the girls he invited me to sit down, have some beer and conversation. I can’t stress enough how important it is to remember people’s names and use them when greeting them. It changes the entire atmosphere for the better, works to your advantage and not just for free beer!

The other patron at the bar I remember is one who I didn’t speak with but saw often around Mejiro. She drank alone, or speaking with different men from time to time. She wasn’t a prostitute but I think just a lonely woman who found comfort at the East-Bourne. When I’m in Mejiro I wonder what happened to her. I imagine she is still just as lonely but now in her early fifties and still looking for love that will probably never come aside from one hour stints in the love motel.

On my return trips I would pop-in to the East-Bourne as it was a place where memories easily returned. But in discovering the building was completely gone this past trip I realized I haven’t been in the East-Bourne for 5 or 6 years! The last time I went it was to meet my friends Horacio, Masaru and Miguel. We had a couple of quick drinks, some great catching up and then they were all off to catch the last train. These pictures are from 2011 or 2012 if I’m not mistaken.

I remember we went there two years in a row as the same women (on the far left) was the bartender. The draft beers were gone and they were only serving bottle beers then. I imagine this was part of the slow death of the East-Bourne because just having bottle beer in a place so refined just seemed a bit off.

On this past trip I was looking forward to another beer in the East-Bourne and walked past where it used to be two times before I realized the entire building had been torn down. Looking at Google Maps confirmed this.

And so, this post, although rather long in getting to the point is my online memorial to the East-Bourne Mejiro. It will always be a place I held dear and was part of one of my favorite chapters of my life.

Google Maps Link: Here

イーストボーン
Japan, 〒171-0031 Tokyo, Toshima City, Mejiro, 3 Chome−5−16 青山ビル B1F

Categories
Japan - 日本 Travel

Tokyo Trip 2018 – Second Post

It is 4:07 PM on Monday, August 13th. I’m sitting at the Hub in Ikebukuro and the end of the Japan trip draws close. I wasn’t able to write as much as I wanted in my journal this trip due to a problem with the power cord. I had forgotten that Japan only uses a two socket plug and my computer power cords were three pronged. It was an absolute saga to try and get a connector. First we went to a local computer store but it didn’t appear like they had anything. So my wife ordered one off of Amazon and we went on our trip to Karuizawa and Kusatsu. When we came back we were surprised that it still hadn’t arrived so checking Amazon she discovered that the order wasn’t placed due to an expired credit card. We fixed that and ordered it. It arrived in two days and guess what, the plug didn’t fit.

So she called Bic Camera in Ikebukuro and they said they had something. The attendent didn’t seem to know which one would work but I finally figured it out and would you believe I saw the same connector at the first computer store we went to!!?? So here I am finally writing in my journal again at the end of the trip.

It has been a very long and unproductive day today, I shouldn’t have stayed in Tokyo another day. But before I get into that let me write a short recap of what has occurred thus far.

I arrived in Japan and met up with Brandon, Kyoko and Mitsuki in Shinjuku and we went to a lovely French restaurant. The food was great but in typical French fashion it took forever! Kyoko was worried about missing the train and wanted Brandon to go back to Kamakura with her. It was our night out that had been planned forever so he opted not to do that. We went to a couple of whisky bars with Masaru and it was a nice time.

The next day was out in Tokyo with Brandon. I had plenty to drink that first night so was a bit fuzzy the next day. I had intended to take us to Akihabara first but in my haze ended up taking us to Asakusa. That wasn’t a problem though because Asakusa was on the list. We went up to the Sky Room for a few beers with a view. Next was the Kaimiya bar to sampnle the “Deki-Bran” which is a concoction of wine, gin and brandy. It was nice to try it but not very good in our opinions. We then checked out the temple and gift shops.

Next it was to Akihabara and we ventured into a Maid Cafe. I was always curious about those and now can definitely say it is a very big waste of money. They put bunny ears on us and our drinks were cheap, weak and expensive! But we had a look around and then it was back to Ikebukuro for a shower and to get ready to go out again.

I had thought Watami went out of business but realized that it had not but really should have! We went to one close by and they took us downstairs into a “private dining” area which isn’t very fun because I like to people watch and perhaps have the opportunity to meet some strangers!

We were hungry though and still had to wait for Horacio and Masaru so ordered up some food and that is when I realized the quality had gone straight downhill. We finished the food and drinks then went outside to wait for Horacio. He arrived and since we had some time before Masaru was going to arrive we went to a whisky bar. It was a small place but intimate and the onwer was friendly. We asked him what izakaya we should go to and he gave us a good recommendation.

After the izakaya we went to The Hub to finish out the night.

The next morning it was off to Saitama to collect the family and head to Kamakura. We met up with family friends and first went to the giant Buddah. It was extremely hot with a real feel of about 110 degrees so wasn’t one of the most pleasant experiences walking there. It was one of the hottest summer days I’ve experienced probably since I was a kid and before air conditioning was a thing. We then went to the beach and then to dinner at an Okonomiyaki bar.

Categories
Japan - 日本 Travel

Tokyo Trip 2018

I’m at SFO airport awaiting the boarding to Japan. Getting ready to travel, especially internationally and for a long trip is always such a pain UNTIL I get to the airport. It is then I am excited.

The pain part is packing, getting the house in order, locked, making sure the plants are watered and fish are fed. Making sure everything is turned off, doors are locked and everything in order for the return. I don’t sleep very well the night before, especially when I have an early flight and then I’m anxious to get to the airport because you never know when you’ll have major delays with the traffic, lines at check-in and security. No matter how many times I travel I always leave too early. It never takes me more than an hour from when I leave my house until I’m past security but I still get anxious.

And so here I am, an hour early for my flight. One thing I’ve noticed is the amount of Chinese travelers have increased. I can usually tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai but not the other countries. The Chinese often aren’t sure what to do and can hold up lines. Going through security many of them stand at the conveyer belt putting their stuff back on instead of taking the entire basket to the benches and doing it there. This holds things up.

I’m very glad I have a non-stop flight to Japan this year. Last year I had to fly to LA and then to Japan and it didn’t work out well. I bought two separate tickets because it was much cheaper but that is something you’re really not supposed to do. This meant I had to collect my things and check in all over again at LAX. On the flight from LAX to HND we were flying over Oregon and about to start crossing the Pacific Ocean when I realized the land was on the wrong side. Sure enough an announcement came from the captain that we were going back to LA because the backup system for crossing the ocean wouldn’t turn on and this was a requirement. We were already three hours into the flight! So we went back to LA and had to wait half a day for another plane and crew to be ready. This meant I missed seeing my buddy Brandon in Tokyo since I didn’t arrive until midnight when I was supposed to arrive at 2:00 PM.

I’m meeting Brandon again this year when I arrive and we’ll go drinking in Tokyo for two nights and one day. It gives me much more peace of mind that this flight is non-stop so fingers crossed there are no issues.

The time is now 9:08 AM and boarding starts at 9:55. I think I’ll end this post now, have a little walk around and then just people watch while listening to music until we board.

I’ll be spending two weeks in Japan and the adventure begins!

——————

I’m four hours into the flight to Tokyo. It took a while to get off the tarmac and the first meal was served just after takeoff. There are some seniors in front of me and it took them a while to decide whether they wanted the chicken or noodles. The flight attendant mentioned the chicken was the better choice; I had already chosen the noodles.

As for the airplane itself it is an updated version with some things better and some worse. The windows now have a tint function which is fabulous. The food was served on a plastic tray you could buy at the 100 yen shop with the plastic silverware included. I had noodles, somethings which resembled cous cous and a piece of bread. I was delighted with the ice cream however which wasn’t bad at all.

For entertainment I first read the first hundred pages of Haruku Mirakami’s book Men without Women. It wasn’t what I expected but then again I haven’t read Mirakami.

We are now on the part of the flight that resembles nighttime even though it is day. All the windows were automatically darkened to the highest setting and many have fallen asleep. I tried to sleep but only managed 30 minutes or so of disrupted sleep. I started watching The Death of Stalin and that isn’t what I had expected either. It was interesting but I lost interest halfway through even though I thought I should watch the whole thing just to kill time.

As I write this I have my monitor set on the darkest setting but it is very hard to see. The issue is that the next setting is too bright and this one too dark. I’ve chosen the darker option.

I forgot to mention that in the movie selection they had Ready Player One which is the movie I played Apple to rent last night; I should have waited. I’m considering watching it again so I can get a few screenshots of it. It is set in none other than my hometown of Columbus, Ohio but in a very futuristic setting where everyone pretty much lives in a virtual world called The Oasis. Being from Ohio you can see the skyscraper that went up when I was a kid and resembles something like a giant took a bite out of the top. I don’t know the name of the building. In fact, I only know the names of two skyscrapers in Columbus: The Levec (spelling?) Tower and The Nationwide building.

Ready Player One is a movie that inspires me and might not be too far off from what our future looks like. Living in a virtual world you can be anything you want to be, go anywhere you want to go, it really is an amazing thing but the problem is it is better than reality.

I’m trying to get into an excited state about my Tokyo trip but at the moment I cannot; I just want this flight to be over. I had forgotten what it is like to sit in one seat for so long and so I’m trying not to drink too much water. I’m sitting in the window seat and I really don’t want to boether the two people I’d have to disturb in order to get to the bathroom.

Perhpas I’ll get excited about this trip once we land. I have filled out the immigration and customs forms which have changed a bit since last year. They now ask if your carrying anything that another asked you to bring. Well my wife asked me to bring a lot of stuff and one friend asked for some sleeping pills. However, if I check the ‘yes’ box I’ll get asked a lot of other questions and could raise a red flag at immigration which I really do not want to do. So, in this case it is best to check no since the items I”ve been asked to bring are plastic plates to give as a gift for a friend who recently had a baby and those sleeping pills for Kazuko who must be having trouble sleeping. It must be difficult going from a high flying social status, studying abroad, going to one of the best schools and being popular to being a housewife and stuck at home all day with two children. It’s like a miniture version of Princess Makiko’s situation.

Well, I’ll be in Tokyo in five hours. I’ll go through immigration and then have to go exchange currency since my wife didn’t leave me any yen. I’ll then go take the train and wonder if my Suica card is outdated again. I’ll board the train with my large suitcase and can only hope the train isn’t too crowded. I’ll make my way to Ikebukuro, drop off my bag and then Brandon wants me to meet him back in Shinjuku where he is attending Mitsuki’s ballet performance. We’ll want to hit up a restaurant and whisky bar. Just typing that last sentence gave me a brief flicker of excitement but then I realize I still have five hours in this cramped space. I would like to sleep but think I cannot.

So, I’ll wrap up this post, perhaps read some more of the Murakami book and then watch Ready Player One again.

In trying to kill some more time I’ve decided not to end the post. I opened my phone to change the song since it seemed stuck on Titanic’s “Party in Third Class” and put on some trance. I connected to the United Wifi on my phone and opened up the app which connected. I just realized I have Club passes right there in my phone. I wish I had known that when I spent two hours at SFO waiting for the flight. It isn’t that the general United Club is very exciting but it might have been nice to get a pastry or coffee. I reallly cannot believe those passes are right there in the app now. I think we’ll use them on the way back. Those two aren’t expired but there will be four of us as I’ll be with my family. I gave my wife the paper passes I had which all seem expired. We’ve used expired before as the Club attendants really don’t look at them but in Japan they are always sticklers for the rules. I bet a million dollars they’ll tell us they cannot be used, since of course the attendants at the Haneda United Club will be Japanese. Being a foreigner I’ll give it a try though and if worse comes to worse I’ll have my wife and son use them and then hope they just let our youngest in for free. Perhaps they’ll take pity on me and not want to break up the family? Fat chance, it is Japan after all.

I forgot to mention I saw an advertisement for Mobile Passport which lets you speed up USA immigration by answering the questions on your phone. I read the rules and unfortunately we cannot use it since my wife isn’t an American citizen. That is too bad as I was hoping to impress my family with my tech and travel knowledge but it won’t work this time. Bummer.

Well, I think I’ve run out of things to write about and can kill no more time with this activity. Boy do I hate being in such a small space for so long.

**Update**

There is now two and a half hours left of the flight. After I finished my last entry I decided to try the in-flight wifi. I won’t make that mistake again. It took about 10 tries to finally complete the transaction to get internet access. That should have been a warning sign. I finally got access and it took about 20 minutes to get connected. When it connected I opened my e-mail and it took an hour to download seven messages with two attachments.

And so, during this ordeal I decided to watch the new Tomb Raider. I’ve been a fan since the first Tomb Raider game came out for PC which was in my college days back in the late ’90s. I loved that game and was thrilled when the movie came out with Angelina Jolie. It was a great movie. But unfortunately the sequels never match up and my description of this new version would be this: Laura gets beat up for the majority of the movie and can’t seem to stop finding herself hanging off the edge of cliffs. Furthermore, her father, the bad guys and her completely destroy a very ancient :43tomb which should have been preserved, reasearched and filled with archeologists. But no, they run around, shoot things and destroy what should be a World Heritage site. Very disappointing.

After the movie I had to decide whether to bother the people next to me so I could go pee. There were three hours left in the flight at that point and although I could have held it I didn’t want to wait four hours because it will take time to get off the plane and to the restroom. I did bother them and went to the closest bathroom. It was locked and as I checked the one across the aisle an Indian woman got to it before me. So I waited for the first one but someone must be taking a serious dump, joining the mile-high club, or just wants to stand. The Indian woman came out and last I checked that person was still in there! Hurry up people, there are limited facilities on an aircraft!

So with just over two hours left I imaigne they’ll turn the lights on here soon and serve the next meal. I could eat. Looking at my watch on SFO time I see the time is 6:43 PM. Hard to believe the day there is ending while my day will just be beginning. It looks like we’ll get in much earlier than expected, 1:17 PM instead of 1:55 PM which is great news. More time to get to Ikebukuro and perhpas even take a shower, use the onsen and grab a sauna before I go meet Brandon. I’m slowly getting excitied to be back in Japan again!

I forgot to mention, I didn’t have too many e-mails when I checked in with work so I can relax about that.

I’m excited to get on the train, hear the sights and sounds of Japan and look at such a great mass of humanity moving here and there. It is like going back in time for me to a previous chapter in my life. I want to drink the Pocari Sweat, try the Zero something or other drink that I’ve seen on forums and grab some great food and drinks with my buddy who is a part of the current chapter in my life. Two chapters overlapping. He wants to drink whisky but we have to be careful because I do not want to feel terrible the following day. It will be interesting to go to these new whisky places but I’m also looking forward to going to my old standby the Hub. Since he wants to meet, eat and drink in Shinjuku I imagine we could stop for one or two at the Hub in Takadanobaba which is where my alumni Waseda is. That hub is the best because there is a greater chance you could actually meet people since they are likely to be students. I met people last time and hopefully will again. What day is today? Wednesday. Ok, so maybe it won’t be too busy but students are known to go out on weekdays.

I wonder if they would speak with old geezers like us. How strange to think that I frequented that bar over 15 years ago and now am over 40 years old. Life really does go quickly and I wonder what happened to my old classmates?

Are we there yet?

Categories
Hiking / Mountain Biking Japan - 日本 Journal

Mount Fuji – Climbing from the bottom (Sengen Shrine)

 

My friends and I successfully climbed Mt. Fuji from the bottom (Sengen Shrine) on July 26th, 2017.  It was mentioned that we start from the bottom over a few bottles of wine and initially I was against it.  However, what won me over was when my friend Brandon told me that this was the historical route the pilgrims used to take before cars were invented and since I love history that was what I needed to hear.  99% of hikers start from the 5th station which is in the middle of the mountain and where the road ends.  There are a lot of shops, restaurants and tourist stuff at the 5th station but then you need to walk about half an hour to get to the actual trail.

I had climbed Mt. Fuji in my 20s from the 5th station but we made the mistake of not reserving a hut and had to spend a very cold night outside while waiting for the sunrise.  I made the mistake of changing my sweat soaked t-shirt at the summit without shelter; the wind blew right through me and I had violent shivers for a couple of hours which really took the energy right out of me.  Here are two posts I wrote about the experience:

  1.  Tokyo Metblogs – http://tokyo.metblogs.com/2005/07/26/climbing-mt-fuji/
  2. Letter to John – https://www.mcurtin.com/2004/06/e-mail-john-k-6-17-2004-mt-fuji-climb/

There are plenty of posts about climbing from the 5th station but not many from Sengen Shrine so hopefully those wanting to climb from the bottom will find this post helpful.

In short, it took us about 11 hours with one big one hour break and a few smaller breaks.  We began at 4:00 AM from Sengen and it also took us a little while to find the right path.  My backpack weight about 35 pounds with about 4 liters of water and many Cliff Bar trail bars.  A camelback is highly recommended since you can take little, but more frequent sips of water on the way up.  The two main problems with climbing are altitude sickness and weather.  Drinking plenty of water will help with any altitude sickness and hopefully the weather will be nice.  I didn’t experience any altitude sickness and luckily the weather was tolerable even though the forecast called for storms.  We were determined to do it anyway and luckily didn’t get caught in any rain.

Sengen Shrine

Sengen Shrine

Here are my maps from Strava and Google tracking.  My carrier is T-Mobile which should be your carrier of choice if you travel overseas as they do not give you any hassle or charge exorbitant amounts of money to use the phone overseas.  Data and messaging are free and calls cost $0.20 a minute.  However, when climbing you’ll frequently be in areas of no service and this really screwed up the Google tracking as you will see since it didn’t know where I was sometimes.  Strava tracking did a much better job.  I put my phone on battery saver and also had two additional battery packs which really came in handy.  Mt. Fuji does have wifi but these are available only at the station huts.  You don’t need to buy a card or anything like that as some websites say, you can easily register and connect to wifi for free at the huts.

Mt. Fuji – Strava tracker

As you can see on Strava it didn’t do a spectacular job either as it only has me moving for an hour and 53 minutes.  The map comes in handy though as it shows the true route unlike Google.  Strava link:  https://www.strava.com/activities/1100249182

Mt. Fuji – Google tracker

So starting from Sengen the first building you see is the first station called Nakano-Chaya

Nakano-Chaya

There is nobody there and we only saw one guy taking a very deep sleep on a bench.  In fact, we only saw about five people from Sengen to the fifth station.  In the beginning the path is through forest which is pretty relaxing.  There is a long slog on paved road which isn’t much fun because it is harder on the feet.

We rested here while waiting for another friend to join.

3rd station – Miharashi-Chaya

The paved portion goes pretty much until the old 5th station.  As you can see this building is no longer in use but one of my Japanese buddies remembers when it was in use and visited when he was a young boy.

Old 5th station

Next you come to the first of two ‘5th stations.’  It is the first because it is actually about 20 minutes below the 5th station all the tourists use.  I wonder how they stay open since they don’t see that much traffic?  In any case, they do offer a stamp and since we had been hiking for about 4-5 hours we stopped for a meal.

1st Fifth station

Next it was up the upper portion of the mountain along with a lot of starting from the new 5th station.  I recommend hiking in the daytime because there is much less traffic than at night when a lot of people begin their ascent to catch the sunrise.  You are also able to see scenery if the weather is clear, which unfortunately for us it was not.  I didn’t take many pictures from the 5th to 8th stations as I really just wanted to get to the top of the mountain as quickly as possible.  I only stopped at each station for my stamp and moved along.

8th station

Towards the top you’ll start hiking more slowly so don’t let the distance fool you.  It will be slow going due to the lack of oxygen and you’ll need to take many small pauses to catch your breath.  So even if you go quickly at the bottom the last parts will take much longer.

Above the 8th station

Finally we reached the summit and well before closing time at the huts.

The summit

Kushushi Shrine at the summit

We reserved a hut for the night which is a must or otherwise you’ll spend a long, cold night outside which isn’t much fun at all.  We celebrated by drinking Yamazaki whiskey, a beer and a nice meal of curry rice.  However, none in our group slept very well due to the extreme exhaustion or altitude or both.

Hut at the top of Mount Fuji

In the morning we got good seats for the sunrise but unfortunately due to cloud cover there was no sunrise.  🙁  The dawn was absolutely spectacular however and it was surreal being above the clouds.

Dawn on Mt. Fuji

The next morning we hiked around the crater but unfortunately it was very foggy until we had completed it.  Hiking around the crater is also recommended because there is a post office from which you can send a post card and another shrine for another stamp on the summit.

Highest point on Mt. Fuji

As I mentioned the fog gave way after our hike for which we were grateful.  Here is the crater of Mt. Fuji.

Then it was back down the mountain.  Since the fog had cleared we were able to get two great pictures at the summit right before we started the 5 hour descent.

At the Summit of Mount Fuji

Heading back down the mountain isn’t much fun because it takes seemingly forever and just keeps going on and on for about five hours.  Unfortunately I had also run out of water and so had to pay 500 yen for a small bottle.  There also aren’t any places to refill the water or even buy it on the way back down so be prepared.

As you can see the path back down is also pretty desolate.  I didn’t take many pictures here either as I just wanted to get down as quickly as possible and my batteries were pretty much exhausted.

All in all it was a wonderful experience – although very hard! – but I was able to find an inner stamina that I didn’t know I had.  Perhaps I had some help from my ancestor in-laws who I told I was climbing the mountain and asked for their help.  No altitude sickness, a quick climb and plenty of supplies made for a great hike and one we’ll talk about over many more bottles of wine as the years go by.

Categories
Japan - 日本 Journal

Journal Entry – 8.16.2017

It is 12:58 PM on August 16th, 2017.  We’ve been back from Japan for over a week now and the terrible jet-lag has finally subsided.  I am not yet back into full routine yet however as I’ve had a lot of work to catch up on and the jet-lag made me very tired when I wasn’t working.

I’m currently in my clubhouse/fortress/office/greenhouse listening to music from the Shire (hobbit) and finally have a few moments to get a journal entry in.  I’m very behind on my blogs and need to get many posts written in this blog as well as the family blog and my namesake blog.  As for this blog one post I’m looking forward to writing is climbing Mt. Fuji (written click here) from Sengen shrine (the very bottom).  This is the path of old, the one that pilgrims used to take.  It took us 11 hours to reach the top and we all did very well.  It was a successful adventure indeed and one that I’m sure we’ll often talk about while drinking wine on cool Pacifica nights while watching the sun set.  I’ll save the details for the official post.  Another reason however that I’m looking forward to writing is is there really isn’t many posts on the subject of climbing the mountain from the very bottom.  99% of hikers go from the 5th station and there are plenty of posts about that, but not many from Sengen shrine.

As for the routine, I’m growing wheatgrass again and it should be ready for drinking in one more week.  We also haven’t started up with karate again mainly because of the jet-lag.  I find myself sleeping until 7:00 AM which I really do not like, I need to get to bed earlier and thus wake up earlier.  By waking up early I can then work out in the gym without distraction, drink my wheatgrass and vegetable juice and thus be ready to start the day extremely energized.

I’m also blaming my lethargy on the jet-lag.  I really haven’t been motivated to do much of anything except play Warcraft which I started again when I had a bunch of free time as a bachelor.  I am determined to craft all purple gear and that is taking some time as well as gold.  I need to clean the fish tanks and once I get my bonus have the house trim painted and a few shingles repaired.

As for Japan it was wonderful catching up with everyone but being so busy made the trip go extremely fast.  It didn’t start off so well the first day of travel.  I had bought two separate plane tickets in order to save money which you’re really not supposed to do.  The problem in doing so is that they could not check me all the way through and I had to collect my baggage at LAX and then re-check in.  Also if the first flight is delayed and you miss the second one I’m not entirely sure they would help me out even though it was on the same carrier.  However, the plane was not late, it was the second flight I had problems with.  We left LAX on time but an hour and a half into the flight and just as we were to cross the Pacific Ocean the plane turned around.  The captain said the backup systems would not start and that is one of the parameters needed in order to cross the large ocean.  So we went back to LAX and had to wait over 6 hours for a new plane and crew to be ready.  We also waited about an hour on the flight waiting for the secondary pilot to arrive who was stuck in traffic in LA.

This made me arrive in Tokyo much later than expected and I arrived at the capsule hotel around midnight.  I had planned on meeting my friend Brandon out for a night in Tokyo which didn’t happen.  I was determined to drink a beer however and headed over to The Hub and had two beers in Tokyo.  Those first two beers are always the best of the trip when one first arrives in a place as wonderful as Tokyo.

The next morning I headed out to Saitama to meet up with my family.  The following morning we went to Hotel Mt. Fuji in Yamanakako to meet up with our friends and to hike the mountain the following day. It would be a while before our friends arrived to we went to Oshino Ninja which taught us all about ninjas and even had ninja costumes for the kids to wear.  Then we went to the hostel, took a nice hot spring then a nice dinner.  After Mt. Fuji we spent a nice relaxing time at the hotel and then headed back to Saitama.

Well, I was interrupted while writing this post so I’ll stop here.  I’ll write two separate posts later, one for Japan and one for just Mt. Fuji.