Tokyo returning to some normality
It’s been a slow few weeks waiting for the curve to flatten（and probably too much Netflix!）Thankfully, we are on the verge of Tokyo returning to some normality.
There isn’t much life in Shibuya these days; usually the drunken capital of Tokyo! There was one sole bar packed with Gaijin open rather late Saturday night. Elsewhere, the tradition of drinking outside convenience stores is rife.
As for New Zealand, there has been a lot of praise how swiftly the country has reacted. Although some would say it’s been overly strict as many bars and cafes are going to struggle to survive. Like Japan, the benefit of it being an Island nation is apparent. Kiwis and Aussies will both get some sanity back when rugby is due to resume soon.
Last week it was announced that Mount Fuji will be closed for the hiking season for the first time since records began. Its usually the most visited mountain in the world with up to 300,000 people per annum.
To give an outline of the tour my company operates the season stretches from late June to mid October. Outside of the regular season it’s more likely to encounter cooler temperatures and less people. We mainly use the Subashiri trail which is more scenic and has less traffic. Departing from Shinjuku the hike starts from the fifth station at 1000m.
The food here is delicious with locally foraged mushrooms influencing the menu. Mini people pick their own but a license is required to decipher which ones are edible.
A highlight at the end of the climb on day two is a local Shizuoka Baird beer to look forward to which is full of off the hook goodness!
Some people underestimate the climb if they haven’t done any hiking before and have poor fitness or health. The altitude is also a factor which affects everyone differently. Generally, there is a 3 to 4 hour hike up on both days and can take about the same to descend.
Some find it harder on the way down with the loose scree; going too fast can cause falls and also rockfalls which can be very dangerous and even fatal.There is a vast array of ages, the youngest we’ve had was about seven years and he was motivated by sweets around the last few bends.
I’ve also met the man who has climbed Fuji-san the most-about 2300 times and he’s very sprightly in his mid 70’s. There is a saying if you climb more than once you’re a fool! He didn’t seem crazy to me and certainly couldn’t fault his determination, wore a T-shirt that said “never give up!” inspiring words in this current climate!
The sleeping arrangements in the hutts make one feel akin to being squished in a can of sardines(or a Tokyo subway!), there’s not much in the way of heating either but they are more like emergency shelters so they make up for the lack of luxury with character.
For me the worst part is the 3 am alarm! A can of monster does the trick and the views certainly make up for any sleep deprivation. At times we see shooting stars and it can feel like a spiritual experience, seeing the sunrise from an elevation most people only see when flying. Occasionally, a group of monks will be making the pilgrimage and it’s possible to hear them chanting from afar.
On a good day the crater walk can be a superb bonus and it’s a good chance to see the 360° perspective looking out towards the Tokyo islands, the foot of the Japan Alps and it can also be possible to see the Tokyo Sky Tree.It doesn’t happen every day but I’ve encountered a friendly ninja who was acting as a photographer at the true summit.
I’m going to miss the spectacular vistas and the fact I could eat anything and still stay lean. Hopefully, Fuji-san is ready to welcome us back in 2021!
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