Seems I owe you guys another blog.
Where to even start? I suppose where I left off would be best. So we will start with the trip to Mt. Fuji.
Waiting, trying to sleep, and being cold characterizes the majority of the trip. That said, I will never forget it.
At 8 am we left the dorm in Kasai. We were on the bus at 9:40 am. Why so early if we were going to climb at night so see sunrise? Unfortunately 9:40 am was the last bus for that day.
The bus ride was actually very pretty. It was kind of like a review for me and it did make me realize that I will miss some parts of Japan. You don’t think about it that much, but Japan truly is one of the most naturally beautiful countries I have ever been to. Just from the highway we could see steep hills making islands in the fog with small towns nestled down away from the cold and wind in between them. I always liked the Japanese watercolors with old men working in rice fields with bright greens hills and soft white cloud floating behind them. It seemed they were a dream; the picturesque not the norm. Paintings don’t do reality justice. I’ve seen cities of low, traditional houses cleft in two by rivers and surrounded by glistening rice patties reflecting the green, yellow, red and orange hills all around and a clear blue sky, make ever bluer by towering white clouds, above. Whatever you’re imagining isn’t near as cool as the real thing.
I’ve become a bit nostalgic and off topic. Before 1pm we were at Fujisan (Mt. Fuji). Since we didn’t want to leave the main town until 8 or so, we had A LOT of time and VERY LITTLE to do. There were two or three stores and three for four restaurants. After looking at all of them in about 30 minutes we decided to get a late lunch at one and wait there until they closed at 5:30pm.
This will be a good time to introduce you to everyone.
Chris: I have been spending a bit of time with Chris all year but certainly a lot this semester. He is from San Diego, CA and reminds me of Justin. Maybe a bit too much. Actually if you imagine a non-Christian, Pilipino Justin you’d be pretty close. For those of you who know me and not my brother, Justin (which is probably no one), I basically mean he doesn’t think before he speaks, complains a bit, and likes to talk.
Ally; Chris’s continuous companion. Or maybe it is the other way around. Either way, they are always together and have apparently been friends for some time before this. Not quite sure how to describe Ally…Short, Asian, and satirical come to mind. She makes fun of Chris.
Cadan: The Brit among us. I have known him since the beginning of the year because of level 2 Japanese but, like Chris and Ally, I’ve only begun to spend much time with him this semester. Cadan is the more daring and adventurous of the three mentioned so far. Describing people is so much harder than describing scenery. He is easy-going, almost maddeningly so for people as driven as me. Perhaps that’s what makes people like him so necessary. That is not to say he does not accomplish; from what I’ve seen he is quite good at anything he puts his mind to. Except for saran wrap for whatever reason.
Runan: (You will have to forgive the spelling. I’m quite certain I spelled it wrong) This was the first time I had spent much time with her but she is Cadan’s girlfriend so I have seen her a few times before. I guess it will suffice to say she is Chinese, speaks more languages than I can say hello in, and has a good sense of humor.
We spent a few hours the way you just spent those last few paragraphs; getting to know each other through conversation and Uno.
At about 4 we figured we out to go look for flashlights since we only had one somewhat small one and a really small one. No flashlights. Well, we’ll deal with it, right?
Where is the trail? It’s closed. What? Closed? But people are climbing! Closed. That’s about how the next conversation with the help desk went. We checked it out and found it to be “officially” closed but we were still afraid they might put a guard up or something after all the shops close around 6 so we figured it be best to head out early, just before everything closed. That was probably our fatal decision.
It was really a short and uneventful trip up. We got to see sunset and took the opportunity to take some fun photos of ourselves.
Now for the funny part: we found a little nook out of the wind and thought “This is a nice spot to spend 6-7 hours until 2-3 am when we should start the final climb to the top.” The only good place to spend that long on a mountain at night is inside next to a heater or in a giant sleeping bag. We had neither.
First hour or so before it got dark were fine. By the time we started seeing the moon and the glimmer of stars we already had all our clothes on. By 10 pm we were huddles together for warmth in the corner. By 11 we were as close as we could get with a plastic raincoat on top to keep heat in.
I think it could go unsaid that we were unprepared.
That was not the end of our problems. Runan got sick from the altitude or food or exhaustion or all three and her and Cadan went back down. Well now it is just Chris, Ally, and I wrapped in all the coats trying to make it till 2am. By midnight Ally and Chris were shaking. We decided to head down and use the one open place’s bathroom one last time and try to just go slowly to the top to keep warm. At that point we discovered that my one flashlight was not enough. It was going to be quite a task going up with just it. On top of that the kind man with the bathroom informed us that it might snow that night and we couldn’t use his bathroom.
Scrap that plan. We were headed down and we weren’t the only ones. On the way down we met an older Canadian couple who had been lost for an hour or two and were just waiting for someone to come by. Our rugged band of under prepared tourists slowly made its way back down to the 5th station (where we started) at about 3 am. Right as we were walking up we were greeted by Cadan who said “Theres an open truck that’s pretty warm.” Apparently he had already tried to break in everywhere else. The Canadian couple, who at least had nice coats, sat in front of a shop and the rest of us piled into now quite warm truck to wait for sunrise.
I couldn’t sleep at all and Cadan wasn’t feeling well so we both got out and walked around for a bit. As we were doing that a car pulls up right next to our truck. One more thing you should know about Chris- he is always trying not to stick out among the Japanese. He likes attention but not social censure. Well camping out in an unlocked commercial truck would probably draw quite a bit of social censure. Me and Cadan saw the car pull up and could help but laugh. We knew Chris would be panicking inside. That car stayed there for like 30 minutes. When it left our suspicions were confirmed; Chris had been trying to make the two girls stay silent and hide so no one saw them.
Sunrise was fairly soon and, having almost been discovered once, we thought it best to vacate our warm truck. Now for another few cold hours. The good news is we got to see sunrise and it was quite pretty. We thought we would be blocked by clouds but that bright red rising sun burnt it right away.
Sunrise was over by 6 am and our bus was at 1 pm. Another 7 hours. The first few consisted of wandering around outside as workers “prepared” their nice warm store before they would let us in. Then, when they finally let us in, we were only allowed to stay for an hour or two before they kicked us out in “preparation” for another group. I fail to see how 5 college students sitting face down at a table (Chris perhaps snoring a bit) could inhibit whatever they did. Well another hour or two outside before another shop opened and we moved in there. We bought a lunch/breakfast and they said we could stay unless it got busy. It was Sunday during off season. They seemed far too concerned about being busy for the 15 guests they saw during the whole like 4 hours we slept in there.
I make it sound a bit miserable, and it was, but Fuji was really fun too. All about the story right?