Friday Flowers

In the early part of the summer, we visited a new garden (somewhere in Tokyo).  I don’t remember the name of the garden, but that’s ok because we don’t intend on returning anytime soon.  I am still wondering what the $3.00 entry fee was being used for, because I don’t think it was on maintenance!  There was one small bright spot and I wanted to share a few photos with you…

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Mt. Fuji – Part 3

The Descent

“What goes up must come down.”

Sir Isaac Newton

This is so true when it comes to climbing a mountain!  While it was rewarding to reach the top of Mt. Fuji, we still had to get back down to the bottom of the mountain.  Getting down was a completely different experience from the climb up.

Let’s start out with some pleasant photos of the descent.  I have never seen (nor have I been so close) clouds like this!

It kind of makes you feel like you’re standing in heaven…  🙂

That heavenly feeling ended quickly…

Looks easy, doesn’t it?  Sure, it looks like an endless trek…but who can’t handle a long walk to the bottom?

Oh…unless the decline looks like this!

You don’t need to tilt your head and I didn’t tilt the camera to a strange angle!  This was what everyone ran/walked/shuffled/slid down for anywhere from 2-4 hours.  Can you say FUN?

This feels wonderful on your joints, shins, and knees.  I also enjoyed the dirt and rocks falling into the front of my (old) running shoes.  When we took our shoes off at the bottom, our feet and toes were black from the mountain ash.

So beautiful… 😉

At least the temps got warmer as we made our way down…

I wonder if this gentleman is thinking…”Why, why, why did I decide to do this?  When is it going to end?”  Cheer up – you’re almost near the end!

It’s funny, at this point in the descent I think we had less than 1 mile remaining and the terrain started to flatten out.  Why give up now!?

Finally…back to where we started!!

We waited for our group to arrive back – and then we had to sit around (or sleep) for a few hours and wait for our bus to come.

Once the bus arrived, we had another 2.5 hour ride back to Shinjuku and then a short train ride home.  We made it home just in time to watch the replay of the Olympic women’s marathon coverage.  What a perfect end to a marathon climb!  Climbing Mt. Fuji was a long adventure, but we are SO glad we did it!

There is a common Japanese saying about Mt. Fuji that translates to — “He who climbs Fuji once is a wise man.  He who climbs Fuji twice is a fool.”

I couldn’t agree more.  I prefer to stay a “wise man”.

🙂

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our adventure!

Mt. Fuji – Part 2

The Sunrise

After our long climb up Mt. Fuji, we made it to the summit just in time to watch the sunrise.  It was a little strange watching this – while being sandwiched between the clouds.

I like the silhouette of the climber in this one…

It seemed as though everyone else on the mountain was wearing “real” mountain gear.  We improvised.  I think Shawn was only wearing 2 layers of clothes…while I was wearing 5 layers + 2 pair of gloves + a hat + an ear warmer under the hat.  I could have easily used another pair of gloves and socks!  🙂

Check out the short video we took with our little camera.  Turn up the volume so you don’t miss the sound of the gentle breeze!

The next photo shows you how quickly the clouds came in and started to cover up the sunrise.

Within a few seconds after taking this photo, the sky became completely covered in clouds and the sun was nowhere to be found.  It was almost as though the sunrise didn’t even happen.

After it clouded over, we walked around the summit for a short time and tried to find some of the other people we climbed with.  We were so cold at that point, that we purchased 2 cans of hot chocolate for roughly $8.00.  What a deal!

At some point during the climb, our group split up and people climbed as far as they could.  Here are a few photos that other people captured from some of the lower stations on the mountain.  I’m amazed at how different the views were, depending on where people were located on the mountain.

I love how blue the sky is in this one…

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final post!  Have you become bored of this story yet?  We still had to walk back DOWN the mountain!  Just as we were going to begin our journey down, we ran into one of our friends.  We started the trek together and eventually met up with the rest of our group.  More to come..

If you haven’t yet checked out Part 1 of our Mt. Fuji climb, click here to see the photos!

Mt. Fuji – Part 1

The Climb

Mt. Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san) is the tallest mountain in Japan at 12,388 feet (3,776 meters).  Fuji-san is an active volcano, but it has not erupted since 1707.  Mt. Fuji’s perfectly symmetrical cone is well-known throughout Japan and is often depicted on Japanese artwork.  It is reported that 300,000 people climb Mt. Fuji every year and approximately 1/3 of the climbers are foreign visitors.

The “official” season to climb Mt. Fuji is during July and August.  These are the only 2 months when the mountain is generally free from snow and the mountain huts are in operation.

Our group started the journey by leaving the Shinjuku bus station around 6:00pm on Saturday, August 16.

All of these photos were taken with our small point-and-shoot camera (or they are from some of our friends).  When I was packing my bag for the climb, I chose to pack warm clothes and food – rather than my regular camera!  🙂

The bus arrived at the 5th station (the most common starting point) shortly after 8:00pm.

The climbing crew…

At 9:00pm, we started out for a long night of climbing!

The beginning of the climb was a casual walk.  We could look off to the side of the mountain and see the glow of the city below.  We stopped for a picture early on…

Yes, everyone was closing their eyes on purpose.  🙂

I don’t exactly remember where this photo was taken, but maybe somewhere between the 7th (2700 meters / 8858 feet) and one of the 8th (3020 meters / 9908 feet) stations?

There were multiple stops for the 8th station.  This one was at 3100 meters (10,170 feet)…only 676 meters (2218 feet) to go!

Everyone responded to the altitude change in their own way…  🙂

I think everyone was beginning to feel the affects of the altitude at this point.  We would stop for a short break, eat/drink, and then continue on our way.  This was also before the real cold and windy portions of the climb.  I still had 1 more jacket to put on!

We brought enough water and food with us, but we did have the option of purchasing items from the mountain huts.  There is nothing like spending around $4.00 for a bottle of water.  It’s totally worth it if you need it!

Bathrooms were also available at each station.  You generally had to pay (or donate) between $0.50 – $2.00 to use a very smelly restroom.  Ugh – the smell was horrible.

I like the look on this child’s face.  I think this is how we were all feeling by this point in the evening.

Here is an example of one of the mountain huts / stations.

We forgot to take photos while we were going through the difficult terrain (this was probably was a good thing!).  The first video will give you a good idea of what things looked like climbing at night.

I’m so glad we had headlamps!  Some of the terrain required you to use your hands to climb up very large rocks.  We had to be very careful where we stepped during these portions of the climb.  The closer we got to the top, the slower the climb became.  The climb was a “true climb” at this point and people were obviously exhausted.  People would constantly pull off into any available space to rest, sleep, or catch a few breaths on their oxygen cans.

Overall, we felt pretty good.  The worst part for me was the cold and wind.  My fingers and toes were so cold at this point that I had to try to move in place in order to keep warm and to stay awake.  I really wanted to fall asleep, but we did everything we could to stay awake and warm (while clinging to the side of a mountain)!

This video will give you an idea of some of the easier terrain…

A look at some of the slightly more difficult terrain…

At 4:30am and 7.5 hours of climbing – we finally reached the summit!  Reaching the top was kind of like finishing another marathon, except this took a lot longer than a marathon!!  Even though the trek to the top was slow and cold, the timing could not have been better.  The sunrise took place shortly before 5:00am.  (Pictures to come in Part 2!)

When we arrived at the summit, people were huddled near the edge of the mountain, facing east.  It kind of looked like a scene from March of the Penguins, with everyone sitting down and huddled together.

The weather would rapidly change at the summit.  Incoming clouds…

Matching suits anyone?

We found an opening in the crowd and waited for the sun to rise…

Check back for Part 2 – which will include pictures of the beautiful sunrise!

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12,388 feet…

One long and cold night.

One fantastic group of people.

One mountain at 12,388 feet.

Mission accomplished!

Full write-up and pictures coming this week (I hope!).

Time to sleep…  🙂

Sunset

We saw a beautiful sunset when we attended the Swallows vs. Tigers baseball game.  While we only saw the sunset behind the walls of the stadium, it was more than we regularly see for a sunset in the middle of Tokyo!

Have a nice weekend!

Japanese Baseball

A few weeks ago we attended our first baseball game in Tokyo.  Baseball is a very popular sport in Japan, so we decided we had to experience the fun!  In Japanese, “baseball” is called “yakyū” (野球) – which combines the characters for field and ball.  Japanese baseball teams are named after their corporate owners (like Yakult and Hanshin), rather than the city they play in.

We watched the Yakult Swallows take on the Hanshin Tigers.  The game was held at the Swallows home field called Meiji-Jingu Stadium.  This is Tokyo’s oldest and most traditional ballpark.

No…it was not raining during the game.  (It was extremely humid though!)  Every time the Swallows scored a run, the fans bring out umbrellas!  Per JapanBall.com, this is the fans way of discreetly telling the opposing pitcher it’s time to head for the showers.

The Tigers fans were just as crazy…

The fans will cheer the ENTIRE time their team is up-to-bat.  Both sides have people designated to lead the cheers.  If you look closely in the above photo, you will see the leader to the left of the guy wearing the red shirt.  He has his hands in the air and looks like he is directing a marching band.

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