Friday, August 31, 2007


3-day weekend, no actual breakages

Vivre was closed for a stock-take and Dan got a three-day weekend. Here's how it went:


Off to Mount Fuji! I'd been meaning to do this since I came to Japan, but never quite got round to it.

Arrived at Shin-Fuji station and my first thought was: Damn, that's a big mountain. Came out of the station and thought: Hey, where did it go? It seems that in the summer Fuji is only fleetingly visible, disappearing behind cloud for long stretches of time.

I climbed Fuji on the Fujinomiya-Mishima route, starting from the 5th station. It should be noted that I win zero points for originality here- everyone climbs from 5th station, because it's a lot less hassle; and everyone from western Japan climbs the Fujinomiya route because it's a heinous pain in the anus to get to any of the other routes. I was deeply saddened not to be able to take the purportedly-scenic Yoshida route, as orgasmed over relentlessly by the Lonely Planet.

Full of zest, I set off from 5th station at 8pm and fairly hoofed it up the mountain. It wasn't too cold, but there was a kind of nasty, persistent sideways moisture that was making light work of my laughably-titled waterproofs.

Maybe due to speed of ascent/ lack of acclimatisation, I started to get a bit of a headache just before the 8th station, but I decided to press on to the 9th before taking shelter, which would leave me an easier walk in the morning. The temperature dropped as I blundered about groggily on the damp rocks in the murky darkness, but I had the best torch a thousand yen can buy. Plus, there was lightning. Did I mention the lightning? It was cool.

Finally got to the 9th station and coughed up half my wallet for the chance to bed down in the crawlspace with some complete strangers.


Alarm woke me up at 0245 hours and I enjoyed(!) a light breakfast of "Topvalu" (sic) shortbread, before setting out at 0320 in frankly minging conditions (plus the sodden clothes I'd been only too happy to divest myself of a few short hours previously.) Although it was bitterly cold and windy, the fleeting glimpses of the stars above, mirroring the lights of early-morning Fuji city below, were probably the best view of the weekend.

I got to the top at 0415, and parked my arse in the nearest available cabin, surrounded by weedy jackasses slurping oxygen out of expensive cannisters. I had it on good authority that the sun would come up at 0430 on the dot. (Ah Japanese sun: is very punctual Gaijin-san.) As to whether it did or not, I really couldn't say: the dense clouds swilling around the summit frustrated my hopes of seeing the dawn from Mount Fuji. I didn't really mind though. I did a couple of laps of the crater (second was much easier: the conditions were beginning to improve.) The cloud started to thin out and I got a decent view of the forests way down at the bottom of the mountain.

Sadly, my camera crapped out on me, so the following farcical photos are courtesy of the Ferrari phone:

A torii gate on the mountain, far above the clouds.

The unprepossessing arrangement of pebbles which marks the very highest point of Fuji-san.

Dan, sporting Canucks hat and kag-in-a-bag over jacket from "What Everyone Wants"

Having had my fill of Fuji-san, I hopped it back down the Fujinomiya trail, noting the ant-like procession of people on their way up.

Reasons why doing a night-climb is a good idea:

-Less traffic.

-Not so hot.

-You can't see anything, least of all how much of the bloody mountain you've got left to climb.

-You don't have to talk to anybody.

Got back to Shin-Fuji station around 2pm, turned round to steal a last glimpse of Fuji-san, but, true to form, the mountain was hidden from sight once more behind the veil of cloud.


Friday was far from finished though: there was still BEER NIGHT at the Osaka Dome. In order to take the patrons' minds off the paucity of baseball on display, the Osaka Dome infrequently holds Beer Nights (200 yen a beer, son!)

Sadly, it was a low-scoring game, but we did get the unlooked-for bonus of the 10th innings, by which time I was well and truly sozzled.


The opening of the Athletics World Championships in Osaka! Overslept, but still made it down to Osaka-jo park in time to watch the leaders of the marathon come through. Went for breakfast with Adam, got back to the park and found that my bicycle had been nicked. The Stag was a freebie present from Andrew when I moved into the Chez Shinsaibashi. Even so, I was a bit miffed to be parted from it. I sincerely hope that it was stolen by the last-placed runner, who just couldn't be asked to persevere in the inhumanely warm Osaka conditions.


Three-day weekend damage report:

Extremely sore legs: 2

Remaining bicylcles: 0

Remaining cash: don't ask

Mystery gash and bruising on one arm, presumably sustained during or after Beer Night.

Actual breakages: 0

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