Saturday, January 23, 2010

Japan - Day 19

I had a wonderful day! I woke up early and jumped on the bike to go for a morning bike ride around Lake Kawaguchiko, which is one of the five lakes that surround Mt. Fuji on the north. The lake looked really big, so my plan was to just bike a part around it, searching for the perfect photo of Mt. Fuji. As it was, the bike ride was so delightful, the early morning so pleasant, and the scenery so spectacular that I ended going all around the lake. They were a couple of hours of great beauty, and I thought to myself that after this I was ready to tackle the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

I got back to the hostel around 10 am, and Chris was already waiting for me, armed with a plan to visit two lava tubes near the next lake. We took a quaint, rickety bus to get there. Here you take a station number when you get on the bus (ours was station 4), and inside there is an illuminated bus that tells you what your fare is up to the current station. So, if you got on the bus at station 4 you may pay 200 yen by the time to get to station 10, or 650 yen if you get off at station 30. It is a bit nerve racking to see the fare mount up as you proceed to your destination, but once we got past 680 yen we could take advantage of the all-day 1,300 yen ticket for both the in and return trips.

The lava tubes are . . . well . . . lava tubes. If you have never seen one they are definitely interesting, but they are not the best of the species. The local promoters have cheated a bit by spraying water on the walls, making for very slippery floors but spectacular displays of icicles.

By the time we got back to the hostel it was time to pick up our stuff and head for the dragon: Tokyo!

But you learn something after spending three weeks in the country, and it was with total confidence that we navigated from the local mountain train to the express train to Shinjuku station (west Tokyo), and from there to the Yamanoto line, which runs in a circle around Tokyo, between Shinjuku station on the west and Tokyo station on the east.
Another simple transfer, a train that was running late (I had been hoping to catch Japan Rail or a bus running late, and they always came with punctuality to the second, but this time I caught the train arriving four minutes past its scheduled time!), and . . . voila . . . there was our hotel. Traveling in this country has ceased being a challenge. Time for me to move on!

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