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Life beyond Tokyo

Written on: Tuesday January 6th, 2015

A journal entry from: Japan I can

Life beyond Tokyo is easily more our style of living. I really can't say anything bad about Tokyo, but it felt really good to get out. One of Laure's top things on her to do list on this trip was to see Mt. Fuji. So we found a direct bus that took us to a small (ish) town near the north side of the mtn. It was a nice and beautiful 2h ride. We knew leading up to this part of the trip that it was not guaranteed to actually be able to see the summit due to weather conditions. However, Mother Nature has really been on our side so far. The sky was only slightly cloudy offering a great view with just a little cover at the top.

Like with many places, we had a hard time reserving accommodation and in Fujiyoshida it was no different.  We ended up camping out in a yurt (octagon style tent/cabin) outside of town in a pretty remote campsite. It was certainly a unique experience. With only mats, blankets and a heater it was very different than the rest of our stays. We took it pretty easy with some reading and knitting (Laure managed to finish her tuque that she started on the plane) it was nice to relax and call it an early night. The next morning we got up at a good time and went for a great little leisurely hike in direction of the base, it was really nice to walk in the forest. It was a beautiful morning and the air was blue and clear, offering breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji! To do list; check! There was lots of neat signs of past volcanic activity with hollow tree caves and volcanic rock visible in many places. Mt. Fuji is the highest point in Japan at just under 3,800m and has been dormant since the year 1707. 

After packing up it was off to the nearest train station by taxi to catch a 2h bus back towards the eastern coast where we caught a connecting Shinkansen train (japanese bullet train). The name is quite fitting, these things are intense! They seem to make European trains look slow. As we stood on our platform waiting for our train, you would see other trains passing on opposing lanes at unbelievable speeds. The first half a dozen times did not stop blowing my mind and would make your heart race. The whole platform would give a little rumbled, you'd hear it, see it and then, it was gone... Way too cool!

Riding the train to Kyoto was certainly a treat! After a little trouble we made our way to our hotel. Getting around the city is pretty easy once you know where you are. It's very much a perfect grid in the downtown which is nice for walking. We didn't take the subway the whole time we were there, mostly just walking everywhere. Our hotel was about 1.5-2.5km from most of the main sights. So managed to take different routes each time while still getting a pretty full workout. 

The only down note of the trip to date, the distillery which we were to visit was closed for the holidays longer then expected and we sadly were unable to visit it. To say I was gutted would be a fair description as I think the lady in reception thought I was going to cry when she told me they were still closed. I was pretty bummed out as this was one of my top to do, on my list. 

But moving on from that, the vibe in this city is really nice. We both thoroughly enjoyed being here and felt much more relaxed. The weather has been really great in the high single digits/ low teens. We visited several beautiful shrines, boasting amazing wood working. Entire buildings built without nails. Really quite impressive, and there were never too many people or a wait to get into places. We also went to a specialty yarn store that Laure had researched beforehand. It was fun to see her so giddy. There is some great shopping and endless small bars and restaurants to explore. I'd say the hardest part for both of us was being able to pick a place to eat or have a drink, as there were simply just too many nice places to chose from. We certainly had some great spots and with that some not as great, but we have really enjoyed seeing and feeling the different pvibes of various places. 

In sum, Kyoto has been a great stop and it would be highly recommended to others. Now it is time to say goodbye to the city life and head into the mountains and snow! As I write this blog, the hills around me on the train are starting to become more and more snow covered! We had been informed that our skis had arrived at our first hotel and can't wait to hit the trails tomorrow. 

Arigatō,

David W. 

-still cannot get over how unbelievably nice people are. It really  is amazing. 

 

From Carmen on Jan 7th, 2015

It sure is nice to travel through your journals. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to the next one. Enjoy your ski day!

From Susie on Jan 8th, 2015

Great travel log! Glad you are seeing so much and having such a good time. Feel like I'm travelling with you.

From Wilfrid on Jan 8th, 2015

Very impressive scenery. You look like you are having a lot of fun. Again without a lot of people in the pictures, amazing.

From Tante Ingrid on Jan 9th, 2015

David and Laure, I have finally caught up with both of your blog entries. Phew! Your descriptions are so good that I know that I would be totally unhappy in Tokyo but could enjoy Kyoto quite nicely. The temples are very beautiful. You did not say whether or not you could go in. Love seeing the pictures of the two of you so far and in so unfamiliar a setting. What fun! Love every minute.