Without a guidebook and pretty much no knowledge of what was in Tokyo, Hugo came with very few ideas other than going to a zoo, a beach and a water-park! Of course these things are all probably a bit different here but they don’t exactly give a real impression of the capital city do they?
However, one thing he did want to do was climb Mount Fuji. Sadly he was around just before the official climbing season (July and August) but I said before his arrival that, depending on the weather, we might still climb it and from the very bottom too rather than the 5th station which almost everyone (including myself in 2007) starts from. I soon realised it wouldn’t be possible due to a mxiture of laziness, slight injuries (Hugo’s back and my calf), weather (rainy season and wind chill factor) and Hugo basically struggling with the long days and climate of this country.
On Friday 25th June I got up early to see Japan’s surprising win over Denmark and once the match was over we went to Shinjuku to take an early bus to Kawaguchiko Lake which is in the foreground of Mount Fuji. Once we had boarded the bus I told Hugo to keep his ticket but he ignored me and ripped it up which caused great embarassment for me on our arrival as the driver asked for the tickets and made us piece together his ticket (all parts) while shouting at him. Of course he was stupid but the driver was a bit over-the-top given that we had shown the tickets to get on the bus but this is Japan where rules are rules.
We took the ropeway up to Mount Kachi-Kachi which supposedly offers the best views of Fuji. The view of the symbolic mountain was OK when viewed the old-fashioned way (through one’s eyes!) though a bit cloudy whereas the view through a lens was not so great. We walked around about half of the lake amid glorious sunshine and ended up at a batting centre which was something I had wanted to show Hugo though I never expected it at this scenic location.
After that we walked about a bit more where I had to endure a very stubborn guy from Sweden thinking he coud climb the mountain there and then despite being more suitably dressed to go a club! Despite having on only a shirt and trainers he seemd to think he could walk to the 5th station five hours away and then climb Fuji-san with no torch, oxygen supllies or Japanese ability! The guy hadn’t done any research about climbing it but seemed to think that he knew better than anyone else. The Japanese all stick to the rules and while I believe that you can probably climb it fairly easily you still need to be more prepared than Hugo was. Luckily, the woman at the tourist information managed to get through to him more than I could.
Two days prior to that we had gone up Mount Takao which is a short mountain right on the western edge of Tokyo prefecture. Only 599m tall and most of that is ascended via chairlift. We hadn’t planned to go to Takao on that day but when we got to our intended destination of Tama Zoo we found it closed which was annoying as their website said nothing about such a thing. While we were quite near(ish) Takao I made a quick decision to do a late afternoon summit of a mountain which I must have been up about half a dozen times now.
On the day in-between these two mountains we went to Kamakura which involved a fair bit of hiking between Jochi-ji temple and the giant Daibutsu. Even though it was very hot the previous days rain meant the hiking course was very muddy in places and slippy in my trainers which I hadn’t expected. It took quite a while to complete the course through the woods before we reached the Great Buddha and the dump of a beach that is Yuigahama. Hugo was impressed though!