Thursday, December 15, 2011

A quick trip to Japan

Hei Shrine, Tokyo

Asakusa, Tokyo
We took a mini-vacation in Japan this month; a couple of days in Tokyo, followed by 4 days of playing in the mountains west of the city.  I met Chris in Tokyo (he had business there), roamed around my old haunts from ... a few years ago..., then we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hakone, an area dominated by Mt. Fuji or Fuji-san. This is an area of mountains, lakes, temples and small towns, and one gets around by an efficient system of trains and buses.  

We stayed at a beautiful, but understated Hyatt, with house dog, "Haru", on the side of a mountain with its own onsen, which is the Japanese word for hot spring.  The word "onsen", actually conjures up a whole experience that includes not only the spring itself, but a pool, either natural or man-made, that uses the spring as source, with an inn or hotel nearby or surrounding it, creating an environment that dares one to relax and soak until reaching nirvana.  

Hakone Shrine
Chris with Fuji-san
The sulphuric hot springs were created eons ago by ancient volcanic activity in the area, and indeed, one can see plumes of sulphuric vapor rising out of the ground in a number of places there.  Our days started with a hike or ride in a train, cable car and/or bus with a bit of sight-seeing, bowl of noodles, followed by return to the hotel for a soak and then cocktail hour by the fire.  After 4 days, I was not ready to leave.

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