We have had 3 days Sony Mobile Japan holiday. I used the first day to stay home relaxing and packing for the climb up to the top of Japan’s highest mountain, Mt. Fuji or Fuji-san.

I went there with Chie’s work colleague’s husband (Kase-san) and son (Taizo-kun). It was the first time for all of us and Kase-san had booked us on a group tour with Travel Road. We got on their bus in Shinjuku on Thursday morning at 7 am. At 11 am we had lunch at Level 5 Station. At 11:30 am we all got started, our guide first and the travel companies host last.

If I was climbing myself and had done the booking myself then I most likely would not have done it with a guide. However, it was quite convenient as the guide did a lot of detailed explanation about how long it would take between the different stations and so on. She also included a lot of info that was not needed had you ever done even a tiny bit of walking outside a concrete jungle, like how to walk when “climbing” a mountain.

The guide set the pace so it fit all in the group even the youngest group member, an 8 years old boy. The pace was also slowed by the “traffic jams” that we were caught in almost directly after we left the Level 6 Station. At some points it was 2 steps stop, 2 steps stop, 2.5 steps stop – quite a difficult pace. At many places the track was wide enough for more than 1 person, but all took the easiest way. So the more fun, and sometimes longer, path was left for me and Taizo-kun 🙂

But as soon as we passed the guide she complained “wait for us”… So we did like the good boys we are… Until we were last again, then we climbed to the top to wait until last again. What else can you do to make a 6 hours climb to Fuji-san Hotel at the Level 8 Station a bit more exciting?

The climb was slow because of all the people and it took us almost 6 hours to get to Level 8 Station. As soon as we arrived there we had dinner. A simple curry rice dish that was OK for being prepared at 3400 meters. After the dinner we went directly to bed. The “hotel” or rather cabin took about 32 people in our room, all sleeping in rows of about 8 people. Because of that the air was really bad.

Once I started to relax after the climb I got something that I could guess was migraine – could have been altitude sickness as well but the pain started in the shoulders and went up into my head into the front lobe and my vision got blurred. After a while in bed I just had to get fresh air, bile was piling up in my throat. As soon as I got out of the cabin I threw up all the dinner. I spent an hour out in the cold fresh air before going back to the bed where I closed my eyes without sleeping for the rest of the time before we were woken at 10 past midnight.

I got ready for the climb up to the top in darkness, but I still felt really sick to my stomach. But it was just less than 400 vertical meters to the top so I could not give up now. Besides, Taizo-kun was counting on me and had looked forward so much to the climb to the top.

It was really hard work fighting the bile down with every third step or so. But as we slowly climbed the mountain in the darkness I felt better and better (another reason why I don’t think it was altitude sickness). And once we reached the top at around 3 am I was almost myself again, and when the guide asked who wanted to take the 30 minutes walk to the absolute highest point of the top (remember that the top is a round around the crater so you can kind of be at the top without being at the highest point) I volunteered, but Kase-san and Taizo-kun did not.

The “climb” to the “real” top was easy enough and we (the guide) perfectly timed it to see the sun rise above the mountain at around 4:40 am. It was beautiful and well worth the hard work to get there.

At 5 am we left the top and walk on the other side of the create back to where we entered the top. We had a short stop on way to have a look at the Shadow Fuji-san. At first I did not get what everyone was looking at but then the sun peaked out of a cloud and became a bit more clear to me what everyone was s amazed about 🙂

I was climbing down with the guide and two other people to the Level 8 Station. From there the guide “released” us to climb down on our own and it was like being released from prison, or like a cow getting out to eat green grass at spring time 🙂 It took me 25 minutes to get to Level 7 Station and another 15 minutes to the Level 6 Station. At 8 am, another 30 minutes, I was back where we started from at the Level 5 Station. About 3 hours after leaving the top. My legs were “laughing” (Japanese saying) from the exercise and I was quite sweaty keeping the high pace in the hot weather. But it felt so good after holding back all the time and after feeling so sick in the morning.

I also realised that I only had miso soup for breakfast and the only dinner I had was on the ground at about 3400 meters. Still I felt great and it was not until after a visit to an onset (hot bath) and when we again were on the bus back to Tokyo that I started to feel hungry. But I did not eat anything but the almonds I brought as we had planned to visit Yasaka after we got back to Tokyo. And so we did. And we had a second round of fun time 🙂

Going on a Safari

Today we got into the Audi Airline and flew to Africa for a safari at Kilimanjaro. At least it almost felt like that, but we only went to the Fuji Safari Park at Fuji-san.

It was a beautiful day with clear blue sky, or piikan as a Japanese friend (Mash-san) taught me it is called in “real” Japanese. We arrived quite early at the Fuji Safari Park and while I parked the car, Chie bought all the tickets needed to enter by car and by Jungle Bus.

The best part of the day though was meeting with Leo, a 2 months old baby lion. He was the warmest, cutest thing I have seen in a very long time. The idea about just keep holding him and run away with him popped up in my head many times during the short time I could hold him. It is really difficult to understand that something so small (only 4 kg) and cute will soon grow up to something as powerful and quite dangerous as a full-grown lion.

After meeting with Leo the day at the Fuji Safari Park was over. We drove back towards Tokyo. But we made a short stop at the Gotemba Premium Outlet. Where we walked around for a while. I found a T-Fal water boiler for the office and The North Face Gore-Tex pants for snowboarding. Both things I have been looking for. The North Face pants was a real bargain, on top of the Outlet price was a 20% rebate. So it ended at 33000 JPY, or around 2700 SEK.

It was a long, exciting and very fun day. It ended at Ochanokosaisai, a local restaurant just around the corner from where we live 🙂

New Year’s Day

It has been a tradition now for quite some time that Chie and I take a walk to the shrine not far from Chie’s mother’s home in Tokorozawa. Since Coco was born he has joined us.

This year was no exception. We all walked, enjoying the crisp air and the sunshine.

At the shrine we bought tigers for the three of us. As you may recall from last year the tigers bring protection from evil and illness during the new year. And so far it has worked.

Many people had come to the shrine to wish something for the new year and to add tigers for protection. I think that not many Japanese people are particularly religious, so they do not come to pray but rather to ask for health, wealth good grades, or whatever they need at the moment.

I kind of like the tigers because they are cute and it is a nice walk. Also they shrine is peaceful and has a nice garden with a lot of nice statues and trees.

On our way home we could get a nice view of Fuji-san as well. What a perfect way to start the new year!

At home again, we rested. And for dinner we had what is traditional Japanese New Year’s Day food. In old times the stores were closed for 4 days or so. This meant fresh food could not be bought during this time. So preserved food was bought and eaten during New Year.