Monday, 18 September 2017

Travel diaries : Japan (Part IV)

Links to the previous parts 

Travel diaries : Japan (Part I)
Travel diaries : Japan (Part II)
Travel diaries : Japan (Part III)

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We had spent three days in Tokyo, and now it was time to visit Kawaguchiko on the fourth day to experience one of the most beautiful, scenic, imposing, iconic and symbolic attractions of Japan... the great Mount Fuji, or as the locals call it, Fujisan. 


It did start with a little bit of drama though, when our group of 17 had to board three different metros to the main station because of the crazy rush hour traffic; there was just not enough room for all of us in one train. When we reached the main station, we found out that the train we should have caught, left already, and the wait for the next one would delay us by a bit. We were almost on the verge of calling the trip off, but after much discussions, we decided to go ahead with it.

The journey takes around 2 hours from Shinjuku in Tokyo, and we reached the Kawaguchiko station at around 1:30 P.M. The station itself was beautiful, with cherry blossom trees in the vicinity. Mount Fuji was visible in the distance, and it looked even more majestic than it looks in photographs and books.



Cherry blossom in the Kawaguchiko station



View of Mount Fuji from the Kawaguchiko station


From the station, it is a 10 minute walk to Lake Kawaguchiko, which is one of the five Fuji lakes, and is the easiest to access as compared to the other 4. On the way to the lake, we came across a shrine called Entsuji temple, which looked like a place straight out of a fairy tale. Going inside wasn't actually allowed, but we did not know that. We left as soon as we were asked to though. 



Entsuji temple


Once we reached the lake, we hired speedboats to take us around the lake, so we could get a view of Mount Fuji from all angles possible. It was a great experience and it felt surreal to be looking at the imposing mountain with our own eyes. 



View of Mount Fuji from a speed boat in Lake Kawaguchiko


The plan after this was to go to Fuji-Q highland amusement park. So we left for the station after the boat ride. On the way we grabbed some lunch too. But the drama wasn't over. Due to some miscommunication, I and a colleague of mine could not make it on time to the station to board the train for the park, so we got left behind in Kawaguchiko. Making use of this opportunity, we instead rented a couple of bicycles and rode all the way to the park. It was already around 4 P.M. and we had to board a train back to Tokyo at around 5:30, and there was a queue for entry to the park. I did not see any point of trying to get in, so we instead decided to ride around the town. We did not have a destination in mind, we just rode in the direction of Mount Fuji, with the idea of getting as close to the mountain as possible. It was a wonderful experience and really invigorating to cycle around the town like that. We finally found a nice little spot to pose on our cycles, with Fujisan as the backdrop. A unique, but satisfying experience.



That is not my tummy by the way, I had a scarf in my pullover's pocket!


We finally got back to Tokyo around 8 P.M. I was not feeling well, and I was down with mild fever, so I quickly ate something for dinner, had medicines, and retired for the night.

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My friends were packed and ready to leave for Kyoto the next morning, but I had other ideas. I wasn't going anywhere till I visited the famous Tsukiji fish market, which is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. A tuna auction takes place in the morning at around 5 A.M, which is a major tourist attraction. But I did not go for that because transport at that time becomes a problem, and secondly, I was unwell. I instead went at around 9:30 A.M., accompanied again by one of my colleagues, to visit the wholesale market. 

The wholesale market is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is spread across a huge area, with uncountable number of boxes everywhere, kept ready to be shipped or transported, or are being moved in 'turret trucks'. On the way to the core of the market area, there are zebra crossings for pedestrians, which is something really strange for someone who grew up without ever seeing a zebra crossing even on the main roads. 



The wholesale seafood area in the Tsukiji fish market


The market area had all kinds of seafood on display, and I think I geeked out a little there, seeing so much potential food. There were prawns, octopuses, mussels, snails, squids, fishes and so much more for sale. The interior parts of the market also had vegetables on display, making it one of the largest wholesale markets of any kind in the world. I could not buy anything though, because I was supposed to leave for Kyoto soon.



A small section of the display


My friends were aboard the train to Kyoto, when I was still in the hostel back in Tokyo, packing my stuff to catch the next train. I suddenly got a call from one of my colleagues and she sounded quite tensed. The problem was that she had left her bag in the Tokyo station and left for Kyoto, and because I was yet to leave for the station, she asked me to look for it once I reached. I said I would, but I did have much hopes to be honest. Ten minutes later she calls me again to tell me that she informed one of the guards in the train about this, and he called up one of the staff members in the station. They actually went and found the bag lying in the exact same spot where she had left it, in the train station of one of the busiest cities in the world, untouched, untampered. So I just had to go and collect it from the staff office in the station, and got her bag safely back with me. I cannot imagine something like this happening like this anywhere in India, or maybe in any part of the world, and a bag like that would disappear in less than a minute if left unattended. Call me partial, but things like these adds to the love you have for a particular place even more.


That was the last I saw of Tokyo during that trip, but the action continued in Kyoto after this. I will cover all about my time in Kyoto in the next post, and it will be up no later than next Monday. So visit again, keep traveling and have a great week!

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Link to the later parts 

Travel diaries : Japan (Part V)

3 comments:

  1. Cherry blossom (as well as apple, peach, apricot, plum and pear) blossom is something I really miss. Seasonal changes and traditional four seasons used to define my life in many ways. Thanks for the beautiful post on Japan that actually reminded me of Europe. Waiting impatiently for the post on Kyoto - it's supposed to be a cultural capital and a place of natural beauty, right?

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