Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Last Weeks of School - focus and fun

Hydrangeas are in full force.  We arrived in Japan just after the cherry blossoms but no one ever talks about the whole rest of the crazy blooming spring in Japan.  It seems each week we are here brings the extreme explosion of the next bloom.  First it was the pink azealea bushes, then the lilies, iris, jasmine, roses and now the hydrangeas. The colorful flowers line the roads, fill the forest and grow out of the mossy walls and planted potted gardens.
Pictured is a taste sensation.  Our travels in Japan so far have been fueled by feasts we have created through grocery purchases and our western ingenuity.  When we stayed with our Japanese exchange student's family, his parents treated us to many Japanese culinary treats.  At the restaurant above, we sat at one of two small dining areas, with our feet below the "ground" level, in a space that opened below the table.  We sat on woven flat mats.  If you wanted a backrest, chairs without legs were handy to tuck under your bum and lean back on.
The small tower of plates emptied by four voracious teenagers.  Takehiro's family took us to a "conveyor belt" sushi restaurant where the boys ordered single plates of items on a touch screen.  Then, within minutes, their request appeared table side on a conveyor belt that shot out from the unseen kitchen.
A wet, wet frog crossing the road.  June is rainy season in Japan.  We've had numerous days climbing mountains in soaking rain.  Our creative campsites require some form of shelter.  Fortunately, the sun does come out and we dry out, though the waft of mildew seems to be ever present.  Yesterday was a day of cleanse.  We found a coin laundry and gave our entire wardrobe a wash and super dry.  Following we sought out an onsen (public spa) and scrubbed our bodies and cleared our minds in the restive setting of complete relaxation.
Mount Fuji.  Finally a clear day to see it well.  We've traveled in the Fuji area for several weeks now and glimpses of it are always special.
Sign posts on our ridge hike.  We got familiar with reading the Japanese symbols for the name of our route. The signage was frequently in Japanese only. The picture above this one  are the supplies we bought for our two day hike.  We created make-shift backpacks out of our panniers and got creative with what we could buy and carry.  The small mountain town we based out of had pretty limited, and pricey, supplies.  When you are used to biking, planning a 2 day hike requires a lot of effort.  We found great storage for our gear, scoped out the trail head and organized our hike supplies - all within the parameters of being back in the mountain town for scheduled school Skype calls, receiving responses from teachers on writing drafts, and being present for scheduled science quizzes. (Never mind that we are camped out at a river-side shelter, it's raining on and off and we don't speak Japanese.)

Sampson, Markos and Tarn are buckled down to their final school projects.  We are stationed at a riverside campsite where the excellent wifi from the nearby visitor centre is accessible round the clock.  The our location – a town named Okutama.  Here hikers and bikers from Tokyo take the train for weekend adventures.  Large groups of expeditioners arrive with each train, get their gear adjusted and head off into the hills, clearing the plaza for the next group.  We plan our “Stoney Ridge” hike to start Monday, when the trails will be clear and the hut at the top empty.  We have observed that many Japanese get out on weekends, and these are good times to avoid popular sites.

We are feeling the beginning of our last days in Japan. Who knows when each of us will get to return? We all are lingering in the present and wanting to make the most of our days here. Ahead...a cycle into the urban area surrounding Tokyo. Final exams supervised by new friends Joan and Rich, storage of our gear,  sightseeing in Tokyo for two days and finally, taking a bus to the airport and boarding a flight to the last leg of our trip: Vancouver to Calgary.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.