This blog is being brought to you from Hakone national park, location of Mt. Fuji and, currently, staggering quantities of typhoon-induced cloud.
It has been less than 12 hours since I left, and already I am pining for my beloved Tokyo. It feels like finally getting together with someone you’ve been mad about for ages, and then discovering a few days later that they need to move to the other side of the world. Still, ’tis better to have loved and lost, and all that. I do not plan to wait too long before returning.
Unfortunately, for most of the duration of my stay in Tokyo, I had to endure a sub-tropical climate. And when I say sub-tropical, I mean wet. And when I say wet, I mean even Fred Astaire would have given up and beaten a hasty retreat into the nearest doorway, all attempts at musical optimism abandoned. At least it was reasonably warm, which made the water a lovely temperature.
This did nothing to mar my enjoyment of the city. Shibuya probably remains my favourite area although Harajuku is a very close second; a more understated place but no less intriguing, wacky or downright cool. My souvenir bag is swelling by the day, and it strikes me as I write that perhaps buying an actual bag to put everything in rather than relying on an arty paper museum one may have been the wise and pragmatic thing to do. Never mind.
I also visited the Studio Ghibli museum (Studio Ghibli is behind seminal anime films such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro), which was a little like being in Never Never Land; my inner child was enraptured. I had plans to visit the Edo museum* afterwards, but they were scuppered as it was shut by the time I got there. Another one for next time.
Today I’ve been mostly observing the non-sights from the tops of mountains, rendered so by the above-mentioned clouds. It’s a pity as I’ve not been able to see Mt. Fuji properly. The weather did, however, produce one superbly atmospheric moment this afternoon. We took a ropeway car to the top of a mountain in Hakone (I forget the name) and passed through layers of low-level cloud on the way. When we arrived at the summit, the view was entirely obscured – it was similar to being in fog, except infinitely denser; in addition to this the wind was howling fiercely and whipping the mists around. It was kind of how I imagine purgatory to be, except without all the tourists.
I had better draw this to a close, as the internet is free in this hotel, on the condition that you don’t use it for a ‘long time’ – which is incredibly vague, but I don’t want to p*ss them off. Next and final destination: Kyoto.
*A little history lesson (see all these nuggets of information you get for free in return for frequenting my blog?) – before it was called Tokyo, and indeed before it was the capital of Japan, Tokyo was called ‘Edo’ – literally, ‘river door’. Previously, the capital had been Kyoto. However, when Japan was united for the first time in several hundred years under the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603, he moved his base to Edo, although Kyoto continued to be the imperial capital. In 1868, the shogunate came to an end and shortly after the emperor of Japan moved to Edo, renaming it ‘Tokyo’, which simply means ‘eastern capital’.