I visited Fujiyama today. That is “Mount Fuji” for the Japanese-illiterate. He was looking snazzy and majestic as any proper mountain should, at least when he was not hiding behind the veil of cloud covers. With my cameraphone in my right hand and a bag of sour Starbursts in my left, I happily and excitedly boarded the vehicle that shall whisk me away to Mount Fuji and its snow-capped peaks. With an expectant smile, I pressed my face against the clear glass window of the vehicle and suddenly realized that it is far too early to be up. It was only 7:30 am! Who the fuck wakes up at that time? On a holiday! I closed my eyes and promptly went to sleep.
A few hours later, we had to stop to stretch our legs and empty our bladders. Apparently, Mount Fuji is not famous for its toilets. Or something. As we were nearing the mountains, I was starting to worry that there would not be any snow. But I had no reason to worry because as we drove higher up the mountains and nearer to Mount Fuji, the snow appeared and seemed to get thicker. Which is a good thing, considering, I wanted snow, I expected snow. Snow is fun! Fun is snow! Woo-hoo!
Final Destination:The Shadow of Fujiyama
We reached a gate of sorts and there were plenty of parked buses by a parking lot in front of it. Apparently, the government closed the road to the fifth station of Mount Fuji because people were needing to be rescued and it was unsafe. I was a bit disappointed, because I really wanted to see Mount Fuji. I did not expect the trip to Mount Fuji to involve not seeing it… but lo and behold, a thick cloud cover suddenly shifted and revealed the beauty hidden behind. There was Mount Fuji all along, toying with the tourists and hiding behind the clouds. People were gasping and clapping at this pleasant “reveal.”
Anyway, there were plenty of things to do, barring an exhaustive climb up a mountainface. The huge pile of snow in the lower-right corner of the picture above became my playground once I found out that no one was allowed to continue. Apparently, the authorities (whoever they are) decided that it was unsafe, even for people in comfortable tour buses since there were some climbers needing to be rescued. The connection between casual tourists and daredevil climbers was lost on me, but to the authorities it was apparent. So I rolled around in the packed snow by the side of the road and attempted to build snow fortresses. The only problem was that the snow was really dry. And tough! And thick! So, I have to punch and bruise my knuckles to break through the hard upper layer of snow to get to the incredibly fine and dry snow underneath. And it was thick, so as I walked on the snow, my feet and my whole leg would suddenly disappear and I would scream. It was fun, really!
I was the first on the snow, which was bizarre considering there were plenty of children around. Soon after I entered the snow, I got into a snowball fight! It was difficult fight, because the snow was packed at the surface and I had to punch through to get to the snow underneath. But the snow, being dry, was not conducive to a snowball fight. It was nearly impossible to create snowballs, since as soon as I threw them, they break apart into a cloud of snow dust. It was snowdust fight. It was not exactly exciting. No one runs away from a snowdusting. I had to content myself with throwing snowchunks instead! The bigger the chunks, the louder were the screams! It was a snowchunk fight. Nice.
About the snow, it was my first time with dry snow. It is perfect for sledding and skiing I suppose, but those are activities that require a whole lot of space and the right equipment. It is not very versatile for some spontaneous fun. I wanted to make snow angels, snow forts, and snowballs. The whole packed snow thing can be not very fun. I hurted my knuckles and it was very deceptive when you walk on it. One moment, I was walking on snow and the next I am knee-deep in snow screaming in pain. I commented that I wished to be an elf, so I can walk on the snow like Legolas. But I make my own fun! While I was knee-deep in snow and too tired to move, I decided to arrange some twigs and broken branches on the snow to create my name. I took a picture of it and I liked it so much that I took a picture of it in a different angle.
I tried my hand at sledding and almost broke my back. Plus, by the time I could set up, I have already sunk too low in the snow to go forward. Damn. Trudging through that kind of snowfall (packed snow on top, dry snow below) was exhausting. It was almost like a stairmaster. But I rather do that than risk walking on tightly packed snow! I tried it once because it look so solid, but it was too solid! It was ice! I slip and landed on my back.
Aching, bruised, and tired, I crawled out of the snow and realized that I was hungry! I bought grilled corn from this incredibly old vendor. I think he has been working around Mount Fuji, selling all sort of goodies by slopes, for years. Food, trinkets, and more. Maybe since the end of World War II or something. I commented to someone that since his little vendor store was so filthy, you just know his food is good. About the grilled corn, it was actually pre-grilled! He grills them and then places them on the side. When someone wants to buy one, he heats it up in his old wood burner and puts some sauce on it (soy sauce, maybe? It could be tobacco spit for all I know.). It was good, actually. I ate about three. It was the only thing I was brave enough to try. He sells this soup of sorts with weird vegetables in it.
Anyway, I was too tired and beaten to play in the snow again, so I content myself by looking at Mount Fuji and the surrounding scenery. Soon, we had to leave. But before we went home, we made a stop at a mall. It had all sorts of trendy Western stores. Which is not surprising, since it is owned by a US company. It features all sorts of expensive stores and a stunning view of Mount Fuji. I ate ramen in its food court and got freaked out by the singing dead animals. Apparently, the people who designed the “show” thought that a band of singing mounted heads of dead animals make for great entertainment. After that and a leisurely drive through the poorly planned streets of Japan (the driver got lost several times), I finally made it home. All in all it was fun. It was certainly a different experience. It also convinced me that I needed a digital camera of my own.