Nara & Mt. Fuji
07.04.2017 - 12.04.2017 55 °F
I was up at 7 am, exercise, BF, pack and get ready to leave Kyoto. Fumi told me she was taking the train into Kyoto and we walked in the rain together. I said goodbye to her at the Kyoto station and gave her the umbrella she lent me. I found the ticket office and bought a ticket for Nara, 710 yen. I had some time to kill and just went to the platform to wait for my train. Nara is only 45 minutes away and once in Nara, I went to the TO for advice and a map. I followed the instructions Kenta had e-mailed me and found my room after about a 10-minute walk He had left the key in the mailbox for that room. A nice room with a small kitchen, Western bed. I loaded up my day bag and walked back to the train station. Nara has an all day bus pass for 500 yen so I bought that. According to my map, the N 7 stop is close to the Kasuga Taisha Shrine. There are plenty of deer roaming around and I take a few photos of them begging for food. This is why most come to Nara. Over a thousand deer live in Nara Deer Park and we all want to take photos of them, pet them, feed them. After getting some photos of the Shrine, I walk towards the famous Todaiji Temple. There are many cherry trees in full bloom as I make my way to the temple. This is why I came to Japan in early April. Sakura season is in full swing in Nara! I take plenty of photos and then join the throngs going into the Todaiji Temple, 500 yen.
There is a huge Buddha looking down on you as you enter and plenty of people are praying and performing their rituals. I get some photos of all the statues and then follow the crowds for the exit. I watch as several people crawl through a hole carved in a giant log. According to those performing this ritual, a person is guaranteed 'paradise' or heaven with this manuver. I tell the guy that spins this yarn that a straight shot to 'paradise' by simply crawling through a hole in a log is a little hard to swallow. Under this scenario, a guy who commits multiple murders can still get into 'heaven' with a quick crawl through this log. Shoots the law of karma right out the window. I made my way out and saw many people stopping and looking back towards the temple. I turn and see why. A cherry tree is in full bloom and frames the temple. It is a good shot and I take several plus have one taken with me in it.
I had enough deer and cherry blossom photos for one day and headed for the bus stop. Once back at the train station, I buy some food at the grocery store next to the station. Walk to my room and rest. I did my exercises, shower, toast tea, journal, read, e-mail. At 7:30 I fixed my eggs, toast, tea and read my book. The problem was I had already read it. I had hoped to trade books with someone along the way but it never happened. Oh well, I like Lee Child's Jack Reacher series and just started reading it again. Took my sleep pill at 10 pm and hit the sack.
Up at 6:30, I do my usual routine: exercise, BF, get ready for the day. It was very overcast and starting to rain when I walked to the train station. I bought another all day bus pass and went back to the Deer Park. I bought some of those biscuits that the ladies sell to feed the deer, 150 yen. I wanted a few shots of me feeding the deer with some cherry trees in the background. I walked the Kohfukuji Temple and then the Gangoji Temple. I had enough tree and deer shot by now and decided to get out of the rain. Bus back to the train station, walk to my room to rest, noodles and tea. I got on the computer and researched getting from Kyoto to Mt. Fuji. It is just silly expensive to reach Mt. Fuji from the Kyoto side. I decide to cancel my Airbnb room in Fujiyoshida and e-mail Kouji that I would not be needing his room. More Internet on getting to Tokyo from Kyoto. Eggs, toast, tea at 8 pm, read, sleep pill, bed at 10 pm.
I was up at 5:30 am, fixed my BF and started getting ready to leave. I cleaned the kitchen, dishes, packed and was at the train station by 7 am.
I bought a ticket to Kyoto and was there by 9 am. I had priced the train and bus options to Tokyo online and of course the bus is about half of the cost of the train. I found the bus company outside of the station and bought my ticket to Tokyo, 1,750 yen. Bought some french bread at the station and waited for my bus. We left at 10:30 for Tokyo. It rained all day and that made our stops for lunch and bathroom a wet affair. I did not have an umbrella with me so I just put on my hat and walked quickly into the building. I bought some rolls for 120 yen and munched on that plus my remaining bread, carrots as we made our way to Tokyo. We got in about 5 pm and I made my way to the proper platform. I recharged my PASMO card and headed for Keikyu Kamata station. I wanted to stay with Miho again but she was booked for my return dates. I had booked 2 nights with Shuhua close to Miho's apt. I had e-mailed Shuhua about staying 1 extra day while in Nara. Since I had used the Kamata station before, I had no problem getting there. I stopped at the TO in Kamata station and they called Shuhua for me. She sent her father to the TO and I followed him to their apt. It is not far from Kamata station but it is difficult to find the first time. She showed me my room and then I got a piece of bad news. My room, the toilet, and shower are on the ground floor. The kitchen and their rooms are on the second floor. Visitors are not allowed on the second floor. I will not be able to fix any meals while staying here. I walked to a 7-11 not far away and bought an egg salad sand. chocolate milk and some bananas. That would have to do for dinner. I showered, stretched and got on the computer to kill some time before bed. Took my pill, read until sleepy and turned in.
I checked the weather and today was going to be OK. I had researched day trips to Mt. Fuji last night and decided to take the bus there. I got on the train and headed for Shinjuku. Many of the buses leave from across the street from Shinjuku train station. I found it with the help of the TO and got in line for the bus to Mt. Fuji. It was about 9:30 am and she told me that everything was booked until 2:30 pm. That would not work but they do have a stand-by list. I was number 11 on the list and I thought I had very little hope of getting out on the 9:45 bus. But surprisinly they called my number. They got up to number 6 and then all the others ahead of me were couples. They had 1 seat left and I was the next single traveler. Good bus, good driver and well built highways make bus travel a very nice option while traveling around Japan. Most visitors have the Japan Rail Pass so they use the trains for all travel. If you don't buy the rail pass, the bus system will get you most places for about half the cost. Don't be hesitant to use the bus system while in Japan. Once at the Kawaguchiko station, I fight my way into the TO for maps, advice. You take a number and wait your turn. It is just packed with people and I decide I will just walk around instead of fighting my way on to a bus that takes you closer to Mt. Fuji. First on the agenda is get a ticket back to Tokyo. The buses run every half hour or so. There is a ticket window but it is packed with people. I found a kiosk and buy my ticket there. Another 1,750 yen, leaving at 3 pm. That gives me enough time to walk the small city and try to get a better view of Mt. Fuji than at the train station. That did not work as most of the buildings block the view or you have power lines in the shot. I did walk down to the Lake Kawaguchi but a large hotel blocks the view. Back to the station, I find a 7-11 and buy a sand. and some chocolate milk. A couple from Singapore were kind enough to take a few of me with Fuji in the background. Time for my bus and we are transported back to Tokyo.
Off at Shinjuku, PASMO card to Shinagawa, switch to Keikyu line off at Kamata. I go to the grocery store I used when I stayed with Miho. It is out the West exit, only a block away. Since I cannot cook, I some bread, carrots, apple and chocolate milk. I find Shuhua's apt. and ring the bell. No answer. they did not give me a key or code to the door. I try knocking, no response. There is a bench outside for removing your shoes and I decide to wait for them to come home. Had my bread, milk, carrots while waiting. Except nobody shows up. I try calling their number but no answer. It is now dark and approaching 7 pm. I know the tourist office is open until 7 and walk back there. I hand them my info sheet and where I am staying and they call the number. No answer. Now I am getting concerned. She calls again and the husband answers. It turns out they are next door to the TO getting some photos printed of their new baby. Shuhua walks in and apologizes for not being home or giving me the code to get in. I sit with her and her father while the husband picks the prints. He never speaks to me and after 5 minutes Shuhua and her father decided to walk back to their apt. and let me in. She is sorry I went thru this and brings me a cup of tea. I have my tea with some bread and then have a shower before the family does. The room is OK, but would not recommend it over Miho's place in Tokyo. Both are around $40/nite but Miho lets you use the kitchen and is just a warmer person than Shuhua and her husband. I pass the time on the computer, reading, exercise, bed.
Today is my last day in Japan. As forecast, it is raining and predicted to rain all day. I am not going to try and see anything in the rain, so ask Shuhua for some tea. I have tea and my remaining bread while killing time on the computer. At noon I borrow an umbrella and walked to the TO in Kamata station. They have some low priced souvenirs and buy a few for my friends in Vegas. I get a key chain that has the 2020 Tokyo Olympic logo for myself. After buying them, I walked in the cold rain over to the grocery store to get a choc. milk, bread, banana, carrots & cookies. I stopped at a 7-11 close to my room for a sandwich. That with the milk would be lunch. I spent the day in my room away from the rain. Shuhua brought me some tea later in the afternoon and I had that with some bread for a snack. More computer, reading, nap. At 8 pm I had some bread, banana, carrots. I did my exercises, shower, read and called it a day.
I was up at 6 am and did my exercises, had my remaining banana, bread. Clean up, pack and walked over to Kamata station for the train to Haneda. Perfect weather today. Clear skies, no rain. Just bad luck today was nice when I was leaving instead of yesterday when I could have gone sightseeing. I had plenty of time before my flight but did not want to stay in my room. I rather spend the time at the airport. I got a refund from what was left on my PASMO card then walked to the foreign exchange booth and converted my remaining yen into USD. I walked to the United kiosk and checked in to get a boarding pass. I found a quiet area and just read my book for an hour or so. I checked my coins and had enough for a sand. chocolate at the 7-11. I ate, brushed my teeth, read some more and then walked to the gate. Japan has the most modern toilets I have seen. Many have heated seats, two different sprays to clean yourself, auto flush. I took some photos of them and walked to my gate.
I was early enough to stretch, bring my journal up to date, read. I asked the United desk ladies if I could check my bag there. If it is a legal carryon they will check it for no charge. I put what I needed in my day bag, checked and waited to board. They board by sections and since I was section 5, I was one of the last ones on the plane. I had an aisle seat so no need to get there before the window and center seat are filled. I got lucky as an older couple from Victoria Canada were in my row. We had a nice chat about Canada, Las Vegas, Japan. They have a son living in Tokyo, married to a Japanese lady and a new granchild. They were seeing their grandchild for the first time. Needless to say she had plenty of photos on her phone of their family. I got up many times to stretch my legs, bathroom and just avoid sitting too long at one time. Usually when I got up one of them would use the opportunity to hit the bathroom as well. I watched 3 movies including La La Land. Decent movie but did not like the ending. Americans want a happy ending and you don't get that with La La Land. We got into SFO early and I breezed thru Customs and Immigration. With all the kiosks available for US citizens, it goes pretty quickly. I hiked over to where to flight to Vegas is leaving and get the bad news. The flight is delayed an hour, the crew is not there yet. Oh well, I had my remaining crackers, granola bar that I brought with me from Vegas. I was hoping to be bumped but the flight was not full. I would take $400-500 for arriving in Vegas a few hours later. I was going to call my nephew Kevin when I arrived in LV so a few hours would not make a difference. Once in Vegas I called Kevin and walked to the arriving passenger area. I only had to wait perhaps 5 minutes before Kevin pulled up. My 21 day adventure in Japan was over.