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Japan

Five weeks around the uniqueness that is Japan.
+26/3/14Japan
Kyoto, Japan
It was a bit weird leaving my apartment after 6 months. I guess it had started to feel a bit like home but somehow didn't when I was living there. I need to be near a park pr something green but the vicinity to work was convenient though it didn't make me any happier; especial given how little I've wanted to or even been at work recently. Anyway on to travel. After a few days of nerves I was feeling extremely happy to be sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. The two pints I'd just sunk might have had something to do with it. But in any case I was feeling pretty happy. Twenty hours later things weren't quite so happy. I was jet lagged - and let's face it a little hung over - and we'd just been diverted to Shanghai for a medical emergency. You had to feel sorry for the pour lady being taken off the plane - she looked in poor shape - and the Chinese were yelling between themselves a lot. One of the first people on board was a police officer who apparently was quite keen to get some paper work sorted. In the end she got carried off and rushed away in an ambulance relatively quickly. The impact for me - and this about me :) - was getting into Kansai at 9pm instead of 4:30pm. This left me with less time to get to my guesthouse than I'd planned. I'd planned badly. It took me over two hours to get to the right part of Kyoto and the location I'd bookmarked on my map wasn't quite right. I was off by one street. Asking the dominos delivery guy for directions - who was super helpful for a guy being asked questions in a foreign language at midnight - sent me off in entirely the wrong direction. Net result I paid five bucks for a taxi driver to drive me two blocks. Frankly given how jet lagged I was this felt like a bargain.
+27/3/14First day in Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan
I was awake early, 6am, a combination of people getting up, the light shining in the window and my body clock being seriously out of wack. Never fun feeling tired but being unable to sleep. I had breakfast at the hostel and went for the traditional Japanese option. It was good. A bit of fish, bowl of rice, some impressively flavour eggs and pickled veggies. The tastes were all rather subtle and it just worked really well. I spent a couple of hours working out what I should really see while in Kyoto then spent he day doing none of it. I started off by checking out the Shimogamo Shrine as it was nearby but then noticed a big green patch on the map and headed north instead of south. So I ended up doing a big loop along the river to the northeast then up some track over the hill to a lake then heading southwest to the botanical gardens before back along another river then onto the imperial gardens. Not remotely what I'd planned but a bit off the beaten track and a nice walk. The weather had started off a bit grey in the morning but cleared up lovely in the afternoon. A low key start but enjoyable none the less.
+28/3/14Temple day
Kyoto, Japan
It was sunny today, the only one it seems I have forecast in Kyoto so I planned on seeing all the main temples on the Higashitennocho district. This started off great, I visited the silver pagoda which was lovely then hit the temple Lonely planet has flagged as the best in the northern section: Hōnen-in. It wasn't impressive. But the map app I was using indicated a walking path up the hill. There did indeed seem to be an unmarked track up the hill so I decided to check it out which is how I ended up on the Kyoto trail. Climbing the hill took me up to Mt Daimonji then along the Kyoto trail until I came out at Nanzen-ji temple. It was fantastic weather for an impromptu hike and I had a great time. I mainly met pensioners along the way - putting my fitness level to shame - but everyone was incredibly polite and friendly. After that I hit a few more temples, the best of which was Shōren-in, before heading up the river for home. The end to the day is some little bar round the corner from the guest house that plays American music, is covered in memorabilia from there and who's chef has been in NY and Boston for a week. Dinner was some tuna sashimi and sea grapes which tasted great and a couple too many beers. Nice end to what's been a great day.
+29/3/14Natto
Kyoto, Japan
I got to try the proper local breakfast which is sticky mass of soya beans thanks to my host. It didn't smell as bad as I've heard and was actually quite nice though I didn't partake of a huge amount. I checked out the Southern half of the Higashitennocho district today. This was a lot more crowded and busy than what I'd encountered so far. The temples were fine but nothing really jumped out for unlike the Silver Pagoda I saw yesterday. The back up along the river in the evening siphuncle was lovely however.
+30/3/14Rain
Kyoto, Japan
It was forecast to rain and it did. I ended up trying an Indian place for lunch after struggling to find much else nearby on a Sunday and it was decidedly average. Decidedly boring and average day that I spent reading.
+31/3/14Golden Temple
Kyoto, Japan
I'd decided to extend my stay in Kyoto three more nights and had to move into a hotel near the central a Kyoto train station. Before that however I put my bag in storage and took the morning to check out the lovely Golden Pavilion Temple. It was a genius idea. A lovely sunny day and the temple was stunning. Because it was such a nice day I decided to walk back and check out the Zen gardens at Daitoku some of which were simply stunning. Lunch by the river where the blossoms were starting to come out then back to the guesthouse to pick up my bag from my lovely hostess. The hotel was fine but distinctly impersonal as hotels tend to be. Still it was nice not to have to put up with any snoring, the guy in the bunk above me the night before put on an impressively dynamic performance.
+1/4/14Bamboo Groves
Kyoto, Japan
I was moving into a hostel nearby for my last two nights in Kyoto but before that again took the chance to explore a new area, the bamboo groves at Arashiyama. The Kyoto Station was a bit of a challenge. It's a funky multi level building and I spent a bit of time wandering about trying to get my bearings. During this I ran into the JR office where I could pick up my JR rail pass so did just that and booked a train to Hiroshima on the third. After that it was simple to get my ticket from the machines to Saga-Arashiyama. Lunch when I arrived was a tasty bowl of Oden noodles with Duck. Back on track food wise after a couple of misadventures. The sun decided to come out again so it was a charming but tiring day walking through the Bamboo paths, temples and gardens that make up the area. There was a lovely section of blossoms creating up one of the hills and the boats cruising up the river looked lovely. When I got back to central Kyoto it was a simple matter to check into my hostel - I'd been concerned it might be harder as Google maps had sent me to the wrong street when I scoped it out the day before. As I write this I'm in a small bar eating some average chicken wings and pork and what must be about the best Sashimi I've ever had. Some of this fish seems to just melt in your mouth. Huge improvement on the deep fried veges and whatever I ordered the night before.
+2/4/14Nara
Nara, Japan
I used my JR rail pass for the first time for a day trip out to Nara. Apparently this used to be the capital way back but the main attraction here is the huge Buddha and the massive hall that encloses it. It's situated in a park full of small deer that you can buy feed for. The deer were tiny and everywhere. It was a pretty pleasant stroll around the gardens and temples that are found in the park before jumping on the train back to Kyoto. Since it was only mid afternoon when I got back I decided to check out downtown Kyoto. Problem was I was starting to feel a bit tired by this stage and busy crowds don't do anything to improve my mood. So I've taken refuge in bar called Kirin City and am working my way through the varieties of Kirin they have on tap.
+3/4/14Hiroshima
Hiroshima, Japan
The train to Hiroshima was nice and simple. The first leg to Shin-Osaka was nothing special but from there to Hiroshima was fast, up to 300kph according to the GPS on my phone. The hostel didn't open until 4pm so I chucked my bag in a locker at the station and spent the afternoon checking out the Hiroshima Castle and Peace Park. The museum on the A bomb is very well done and definitely worth checking out. It makes you very aware of just how horrific those bombs were, something you know but don't dwell on I guess. The rain started coming down at the end so I made my back to the station to pick up my bag then checked in to the guest house. Very basic but then also very cheap. Currently sitting in a local restaurant called Hide-Ya about to try out the local delicacy Okonomiyaki. And beer. Hopefully the forecast is right and it's going to clear up tomorrow as the plan is to check out Miyajima.
+4/4/14Miyajima
Miyajima, Japan
Today was all about heading out to Miyajima which was the main reason for spending two nights in Hiroshima. The forecast wasn't great, cloud and rain in the morning and clearing up in the afternoon, in reality it was the reverse. Luckily I'd chosen to head out relatively early anyway so managed to get some decent photos on arrival when the sun was still out. The O-torii Gate is very photogenic and one of the main attractions on the island sitting out in the harbour in front of the main temple. The sun lights it up nicely when it comes out and it is very picturesque. The other attraction her is the viewpoint at the top of the hill of the surrounding islands. You can take a cable car - they call it rope way - to the top but the walk up is quite lovely. There are a few paths up and all are very well maintained from what I saw. The sun came out when I got to the top and views were quite stunning. On the way down I tried out the Uguishodo Nature Walk which is a dirt track compared to the more developed paths up the hill. I'm pretty sure I took a wrong turn at one point as I ended up descending a narrow trail and coming out by the road in the middle of nowhere. Given that the rain was coming down pretty steadily at this stage I cut my losses and headed back to town. Some oysters on a stick, grilled with butter and soy sauce, were my last experience on Miyajima; not a bad way to finish up really. And now I'm back in Hiroshima at a local bar eating teriyaki chicken - the specialty here apparently - and having a couple of quite beers.
+5/4/14Hakata
Hakata, Japan
Fukuoka/Hakata isn't a bad place to spend a rainy day which is what I had today. I'm not clear on the naming of eh place but as I understand it Fukuoka has subsumed Hakata though the main train station is still called Hakata. From what I've read there aren't many sights to see here but the nightlife and cultural aspects are meant to be quite good. So not a bad spot for a rainy day. I checked out the Folk Museum which I found pretty average then moved on to the Asian Art Museum which was much more impressive. After that I checked out Canal City which is a mall that opened up in 1996. Not as impressive as it was at the time but not a bad place to kill some time while it rained. I'm however not one for shopping so traipsed back through the rain to the hostel.
+7/4/14Bepu
Bepu, Japan
Beppu didn't quite live up to my expectations but they were probably too high. I stayed in a Ryokan - traditional Japanese accommodation - and while it was nice it was a bit run down. The meals were huge but of average quality. The Onsen was the highlight, the outdoor pool heated by the thermal activity in the area. I was staying in Kannawa which has a number of pools called “hells” which are only for viewing. Some were quite well done but overall it was a bit touristy, gimmicky and run down. I especially disliked the one with crocodiles crowded into cages that had concrete floors and they had fresh scars on their snouts. Not nice. So it was ok but certainly not the highlight of the trip so far.
+9/4/14Kagoshima
Kagoshima, Japan
The reason I came to Kagoshima was because it was described as laid back. Also there's an active volcano in the bay. I spend most of the day here I had walking. First I checked out the Senganen-en Gardens. The highlight here for me was the walk up the hill at the back. Then I headed back into town and made my way up Shiroyama Park which overlooks the city. After that it was down to the harbour for a beer while looking out at the volcano in the bay. The evening was nice. I tried out a Sushi restaurant and spent the meal talking to a friendly old Japanese gentleman in his broken English - far better than my non existent Japanese - while his wife looked on as we drank more beer than was probably good for him. And now I'm back at the hostel about to call it a night but first trying Mitake, which is a brand of Sweet Potato Shōchū.
+10/4/14Nagasaki
Nagasaki, Japan
It was a beautiful cloudless day when I left Kagoshima. The train took about three hours to Nagasaki where the weather was fine if a bit hazy. Nagasaki is a cool place. Sometimes you arrive somewhere and it's just got a vibe that really appeals to you; Nagasaki is one of those places for for me. I'm already regretting only having two nights here. Could have skipped Kagoshima and definitely Beppu for a bit more time here. Today I only had half an afternoon so I checked out Dejima first which is the area in Nagasaki which for a long time was the only place westerners could visit Japan. It used to be a fan shaped island on the very tip of the peninsula but has long since been swallowed up by the city as it grew into the bay. The site itself isn't that impressive but the feeling you get of what it must have been like is. After that I tried to scope out a ferry to battleship island for tomorrow but it was too late. A guy at the hostel pointed me at a website where I can book it online so sorted for tomorrow now. Dinner was in a random Japanese restaurant where one of the staff had a few words of English. Enough for him to get that I wanted sashimi and skewered meet and for me to agree to his “my choice ok?”. Worked out quite well really.
+11/4/14Battleship Island
Nagasaki, Japan
I'd actually forgotten Gunkan-jima was off Nagasaki until I got here but it's one of the sites in japan I've really wanted to visit. It's become most famous recently because the latest Bond film had it's ending set here. It's a small island that 5000 people used to be squeezed onto all in order to support mining the coal under the seabed around it. They used to work in heat of over 30 degrees Celsius and went over 1000 meters deep. These days they've opened part of the island up to tourism but you're pretty limited in where you can go, which isn't surprising as it's slowly falling to pieces. There's a great video on Vimeo taken before the island was opened for tourism that's really worth watching to get a sense for the place. So while it'd be much more fun if you could explore more it's still a pretty cool experience. And from the right angle it really does look like a battleship. Once I got back I had a lunch of sashimi by the harbour and as it was sunny was a great day for it. The afternoon I spend checking out the Peace Park and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum - similar to what I saw in Hiroshima and just as worth while. I decided to walk back to town and took the high road in the hills above town which offered some pretty impressive views. When I got closer to the hostel decided to try one of the many narrow footpaths down the hill I could see. Turns out the hillside is covered in a meandering warren of paths and they seem to be the only access to most houses on the hillside. It was a really enjoyable finish to the walk. And now I'm in a restaurant just nearby the hostel trying out the Champon, a local Chinese inspired noodle dish from what I understand.
+12/4/14Flu
Okayama, Japan
I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and it's only got worse. Obviously picked up something at the hostel and now I've that dull ache all over my body and a throbbing headache. Bit of pain too as I'd booked myself into a Sauna and Capsule joint for the next two nights. Showing up at this random joint full of naked chaps walking around and which is attached in some way to a slot machine hall - they love their pokies over here from what I've seen - didn't leave me with the best vibe. Especially when I wanted to just lie down and pretend the rest of the world didn't exist. They were cleaning the capsules so wasn't even able to do that. What I did manage was to find a department store directly opposite that had one lens cap left. Perfect. And it's the right brand and works. Shortly after this positive event I decided to try out the hot pools and sauna, given my achy feeling this was bliss. Followed by a slightly surreal hour or so sitting in a room filled with old men having a snooze. Given my energy levels I wasn't going anywhere. And now I'm having Champon noodles again - not as good as last night but hot and liquid. Just what I need. Followed by a quick sauna and an early night I suspect. Picked up some meds which should knock the symptoms on the head for a bit even if they won't cure me.
+13/4/14Okayama
Okayama, Japan
My plan had been just to use Okayama as a base to make a day trip to Naoshima but given that I'm still struggling with the flu and that it's a cloudy miserable kind of day I decided to spend the day in Okayama. I've also booked myself another night in Okayama - splashed out on a hotel for a bit of luxury - so tomorrow will either try Naoshima or hole up in my hotel room and try to hit this flu on the head. This change in plans gave me a few hours to see the sights in Okayama, namely the castle and the Kōraku-en Gardens, apparently rated the third best in Japan. These were only 1km from the centre where I'm staying so it was a fairly leisurely stroll down and back. Lunch was a Demikatudon set, breaded chicken in a thick brown gravy of some sort which I suspect they may call curry. A change from my recent diet of Yakatori, Sashimi and Noodles. It went down rather well. The people running the restaurant, Gabo, were lovely and recommended visiting Kurashiki which is a short trip out if town.
+14/4/14Kurashiki
Kurashiki, Japan
The weather was lovely but I decided to skip Naoshima as I was still a little under the weather and, the clincher, I found out from tourist info at the train station that the galleries are apparently closed on a Monday. Kurashiki is only a 15 minute train ride from Okayama and the sites here are based around the Bikan quarter. The gallery here was closed as well but it's a picturesque setting with a bunch of old black and white warehouses set along the canal. Nothing particularly special but a nice quiet way to pass the middle of the day. Lunch was Sashimi Gozen, very similar to what I had for dinner in the Ryokan in Beppu but better.
+15/4/14Kanazawa
Kanazawa, Japan
Today was mostly spent on the train from Okayama to Kanazawa; one change at Shin-Osaka and I arrived mid afternoon. I was able to drop my back of the guesthouse and set out to check the Geisha district. There wasn't much to see really but some lovely cherry blossoms along the river. Dinner was at a Sushi restaurant with the belt moving dishes along and an iPad allowing you to order drinks and specific dishes. I gave up my recent no alcohol policy to see if some hot sake wouldn't burn out whatever's taken residence in my throat.
+16/4/14Kenroku-en Garden
Kanazawa, Japan
My only full day to explore Kanazawa and still not tip top. The main aim today was to see the castle and the Kenroku-en Garden, one of the three top gardens in Japan (much like the one I'd just seen in Okayama). The main sites are reasonably close together with the castle and garden being right next to each other. The garden certainly was lovely and had a pleasant stroll around it. Lunch was deep fried chicken, Japanese Mayo and rice; always a good combo. In the afternoon I checked out the Contemporary Art Museum which I found pretty disappointing then made my way back via the Samurai district which was pretty. I have a ticket to Toyama tomorrow and a reservation from Tateyama to Ozigawa via the alpine route - including hopefully the Murodo snow corridor; now it's just a matter of getting from Toyama to Tateyama, getting by bag forwarded and picking up my ticket. Not sure on the timings but I have a two window to sort it out though an hour of that will most likely be spend on a train.
+17/4/14Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route
Murudo, Japan
When I managed to find an online timetable the night before I realised I was cutting it too fine. I would only have 8 minutes at Toyama to change train stations, buy a ticket and sort out my baggage. So I set my alarm for 6:30 in order to get to the Kanazawa station and change my ticket. As it turned out I was awake at six which fortunate as the train I wanted to change to was 70 minutes earlier rather than the 60 I'd expected. Because of all this I got to Tateyama just after 9am and my reservation wasn't until 10:50. When I picked up my ticket I was able to change it to 9:30 though and I was off. The trip was made up out of a variety of transport. By this time I'd already been on two trains but now it was a cable car to Bijodaira. From there it was a winding climb up the hill in a bus through Beech and Cedar hills covered in snow to Murudo. This was the highlight and why I'd wanted to take the trip; the snow corridor. The higher we climbed the more the snow banks on the side of the road grew. By the time we got to Murodo they peaked at 15m. It was this section we were able to work along and photograph as well. This and a walk around a crater with the view of hot pools misting not far off were the energetic part of the trip. Not too excessive though the amount of snow made the walk more challenging than normal with the occasional section where I'd slip in to my knee. After I grabbed a steamed bun I jumped on the trolley bus through a 3.7km tunnel under Mt Tateyama. On the other side it was the Tateyama Ropeway. The Ropeway wasn't pleasant, a crowded car and ten minutes of cameras clicking away. Fair to say I was feeling crowded and a bit tired at this point. It was immediately followed by a quieter cable car down to the impressive sight of Kurobe Dam. This was my favourite part of the trip. The snow corridor was cool but expected. This wasn't. The lake feeding into the dam was mostly frozen solid. The structure itself was an impressive mass of concrete with odd angels and a huge drop to the ice below. It looked something like helms deep from Lord of the Rings. After walking across the damn it was a trolley bus to Ogizawa, then a bus to Omachi train station and a final train to Matsumoto. So that was: train, train, cable car, bus, trolley bus, Ropeway, cable car, walk, trolley bus, bus and train. Matsumoto is a cute little town. The blossoms seem to be in full bloom and the castle in the centre is very picturesque. I'm contemplating another day here but really need to to sort out my plan for the next few days before Tokyo.
+18/4/14Matsumoto
Matsumoto, Japan
The forecast for today was miserable so I extended my stay by a couple more nights. This gave me today to chill out and relax as well as explore Matsumoto itself a bit more. I'll also use it as a base tomorrow to hike a bit of Kiso Valley which I'd originally planned to do when I moved on today. I checked out the inside of Matsumoto Castle in the morning. It's the oldest original castle still standing - some 400 years old - and you get to climb to the top of the seventh floor. Low ceilings and narrow stair cases packed full of people made it an interesting experience. There wasn't much apart from the castle itself to see but it's a worthwhile visit. The museum included in the ticket wasn't quite as exciting. After I checked out the art gallery. Most of the exhibits didn't appeal to me but the main one featuring the work of Yayoi Kusama did and was the reason I'd wanted to visit. She did what's probably the most famous installation on Naoshima that I'd missed out on and the exhibit here while small was pretty cool. Lastly I checked out the Time Piece Museum as it seemed to be well rated. Two small floors with a few clocks and watches. Admittedly some were pretty fantastic in their operation but it wasn't a highlight. Dinner I've overdone. Fried chicken and mayo, fillet steak and Horse Sashimi. The horse was actually quite good, certainly better than expected
+19/4/14Kiso Valley
Kiso, Japan
The valley is picturesque and the most recommended thing to do is hike from Magome to Tsumago. These are both towns on the former Nakasendo, a route that joined Edo to Kyoto. I jumped on the train down to Nakatsugawa then bused to Magome. Unfortunately for me it was Saturday and I got off the bus into a gaggle of some 200 university students out on an organised walk. I got ahead of them easily enough but as soon as I stayed in an area to long I could hear the horde approaching. Fortunately I didn't see them in the middle four kilometres which were the most chilled and picturesque but they caught me at the end after I took a side track to have a look at a waterfall. The best part of the walk for me was actually the four kilometres from Tsumago to the train station. The site of the former castle that I visited on this route was lovely. There's nothing of the castle left but the hill it was on is surrounded by Bamboo and Cedar and the top of the hill was absolutely covered in vibrant pink blossoms.
+20/4/14Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
The final destination of my trip. Well I may make a couple of small side trips but I'll be mainly based in Tokyo for the next eight days. The train here was straight forward, two and half hours with no changes. When I got to Shinjuku it was just a matter of using a machine to get a Pasmo card (like an Oyster card in London) and I was able to jump on a train to Ueno where I'm staying for the next three nights. I'm in a capsule again but this one is side loading and much roomier. I even have a locker next to it and it fits my backpack if barely. A much nicer experience than the one in Okayama though I suspect it's the more typical setup. This one is almost like a dorm. I've had a brief around the area. Where I'm staying is very close to the train station and surrounded by food places and shops. A couple of blocks away there's a Ueno Park with a zoo and number of museums. I checked out the National Museum of Nature and Science which is well done but the signs are in Japanese so an audio guide may have been a good idea. There's only so much museum time I can take though so I checked out the Yanaka area just north of the park.
+21/4/14Rainy day in Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
The reason for not using the last couple of days on my rail pass was that the weather was forecast to be lousy and I'd decided rainy days would best be spent in Tokyo. This was indeed the case but I'd forgotten most museums, galleries and the like are closed on Mondays so I'd have to find other ways to entertain myself. I started out with a visit to the Sensō-ji Temple, one of the top rated sights in Tokyo apparently. I guess I was spoilt in Kyoto. It was an average temple packed full of people with an avenue leading up to it full of stalls selling gimmicky touristy crap. Really not my thing. I had planned to visit the National Museum in the afternoon but since it was closed headed down to the Akihabara district. This the “geeky” area, full of electronic stores and anime. It's quite cool walking around the narrow streets in the rain with all the neon signs, has a Blade Runner vibe to it. However there's only so long you can take before you want to get out of the rain.
+22/4/14Tsukiji Fish Market
Tokyo, Japan
I didn't go to the effort of getting to the market before 5am for a chance to see the Bluefin Tuna auction. To be honest a bunch of guys yelling about fish in a language I don't understand isn't all that exciting to me. The time I did get there, 9am, is when anyone can go in for a look around. To be fair it was pretty clear they were closing down at this time but it still pretty cool. All sorts of seafood on display and at one point a guy hacking the heads of fish and sticking a wire down what I guess was the spinal column. I had a late breakfast of Sashimi at the outer market then made my up to the imperial palace. You can't visit the palace itself and the rest apparently requires a booking in advance but I did check out the East Garden which is free. Nice enough but nothing special. I managed to run into an Apple store along the way and walked out with a Retina iPad mini. I may have a problem there. After this I checked out Shibuya and grabbed some lunch. Next up was Meiji Jingu Shrine which was actually really impressive. There was a garden there, the Meiji Shrine Inner Garden - that was just lovely
+23/4/14Mt Fuji
Fujiyoshida, Japan
I tried to find the bus at Shinjuku but no luck. The train was easy and much more expensive though it involved two changes. I almost missed the first, only had three minutes, but it was on the same platform. Close though as I almost left to look for station wide board as there was nothing obvious as I disembarked. Spend the afternoon climbing the hills above town before the rain set in. Evening was spent on the bar with a decent bunch from France, Switzerland and Poland plus the American owner Michael.
+24/4/14Mount Mitsutoge
Mitsutoge, Japan
I only got to bed after 1am and was up before 5am to get a good shot of Mt Fuji. The plan was to meet the guys I'd been drinking with last night but they were a no show; I wasn't surprised as I only got up because the girls in the room across from me made so much noise getting up. It was worth the effort though as there wasn't a cloud in the sky that time of morning. I then took a couple of hours to catch up on some sleep as I wasn't feeling ready for a hike yet. The rest of the day was spent on a hike up Mount Mitsutoge. I think I did this the hard way as the route I took up, from Mitsutoge station was straight up while the route down to Lake Kawaguchi was along a ridge and a lot flatter. The walk up was half along a concrete path but nicely done with a park winding along a stream for most of it and plenty of cherry blossoms. The second part was through cedar forest and where the path got a lot steeper. I'm still struggling a little with the bug I picked up in Nagasaki and found this harder work than normal. Good climb though. There's meant to be an awesome view of Fuji from the top but it was covered in cloud. So much for the sunny day the forecast had promised. Heading back along the ridge was forest the entire way and a well used track. It was a very pleasant stroll back down. At the end I had three options: take a path down one the left towards the hostel, continue straight along the main path towards town or take a right down to the lake. I took the latter option though it turned out not to be a well worn path. The lake was pretty with the sun starting to go down but I was ready to finish up at this stage. I walked the five kilometres back through town but a bus or train would have been a better idea. A good hike though and a nice way to spend the day.
+25/4/14Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Kawaguchi, Japan
Today I'd been planning on s'more hiking but was feeling a bit beat from yesterday so instead decided to hang around Lake Kawaguchi. There was enough sun to make it a pleasant day and I spent a few hours by the lake reading. I also walked around it a bit and checked out the cherry blossoms around the shore to the north. The clouds parted enough to give a decent view of Fuji as well. My walk back over the bridge was badly timed. There was some race on and I found myself heading the wrong way down the footpath as a couple of thousand runners headed the opposite way.
+26/4/14Luxury
Tokyo, Japan
It was a lovely sunny day as I left, the best I'd seen so far. Looked like a good day got a hike with clear views of Mt Fuji but not to be. I have two nights in Tokyo now before I fly out and have decided to splash out on a nice hotel. I'm on the 35th floor but on the wrong side from the river to have a good view which is a real shame but probably why the rate was a bit lower. The view from the restaurant where I am now and the bar is spectacular though the prices seem a bit steep. Apart from travelling half the day I've spent the rest just enjoying my brief stint in luxury.
+27/4/14Rainbow Bridge
Tokyo, Japan
Had a quiet day today. Got up late then explored the park near the hotel, Hamarikyu. Quite nice and a gorgeous sunny day to sit outside for a few hours. I decided to walk down to do the rainbow bridge and walk across it as I'd read that was possible. The problem when I got down there is I couldn't see the way across so I jumped on the driverless monorail. And what do you know, going across there was clearly a footpath but it looked like it started at the top so clearly an elevator was involved of this side. Indeed I'd actually come pretty close to the entrance when I'd been walking earlier but had just missed it. It wasn't an issue though as the entry on the other side was much clearer so I walked back across then jumped on the monorail to the hotel.