Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mt Fuji, Kyoto and Goodbye


For my first ever experience with backpacker accommodation I chose K's House backpackers in Mt Fuji. What we got was a single room with a table and mats and in a cupboard just behind the camera were floor mattresses, sheets and pillows. At night you pushed the table to the side and set up beds on the floor. They were surprisingly comfortable for me and were good on my back and neck, though Elizabeth did not find them as agreeable.

There was a shared kitchen, complete with utensils, pots and pans, lounge area and then each floor shared a bathroom and with a nominal fee, a laundry. We went to the supermarket and started cooking normal meals with more fruit and vegetables than you normally eat while travelling. It was ideal for my tricky diet and we did the same thing in Kyoto. There were always fellow travellers wanting to converse in the lounge, and it was here we met a lady from Copenhagen who has offered to put us up when we are in Denmark, bonus. For the social and eating aspects as well as the cost we will probably try and find more backpackers accommodation in the future.



Vending machines everywhere!!!


Mt Fuji itself is an imposing and impressive sight over the town. But July and August are the recommended climbing seasons and due to climate variability and cold all we could do was take walks around the nearby lake and smaller mountains, which was fun and relaxing on their own. With our now extended Japanese family I can see ourselves getting back here in the future and hopefully attempt the climb.
Lake at Mt Fuji
















Next on our whistle stop tour was a single day in Kyoto. The day was Elizabeths birthday and Kyoto had been on her bucketlist for a long time. Due to the short nature of our trip we decided on a full day tour that covered 6 temples and shrines with magnificent gardens and included a scrumptious Japanese lunch. One Shogun Palace had all these cool defensive systems including a floor that would squeak like a little bird when you walked because of little attachments underneath the floorboards, the idea being an assassin could not sneak up on anybody. It was a really nice day.
















Then it was the end of our Japan portion of our trip and we leave behind special memories of our new extended family and a Japanese wedding, being kids again in Disneyland and the peace of Hiroshima.

We did all our travelling by train and had purchased a 14 day JR pass. This must be purchased before you come to Japan and are only open to foreigners and with our long trips (Hamamatsu up to Tokyo down to Hiroshima up to Mt Fuji down to Kyoto and down to Nagoya) we estimated 50% in savings. Apart from this it is very convenient to just flash your pass through train stations and just hop on trains without worrying about tickets. There are non JR trains but the long trips are covered and train staff are really helpful, just go up and ask and you will be on the right platform in no time. We always preplanned our trip using Hyperdia first and never missed a train, the bullet train is blistering fast and they are virtually always dead on time. When using hyperdia just uncheck the Nozomi checkbox as they are not covered by the pass.

We have found Japan incredibly friendly and clean. For instance when Elizabeth could not find a supermarket and was unsure where she was a passerby went and got her car and drove her back to the hotel. In Kyoto, with bags, raining and standing on a street corner trying to work out a map that had streets missing, a guy offered to help and walked us to our hotel and did not leave  until we were safely inside, not wanting anything in return. Definitely on our return list.