Thursday, 12 April 2018

Autumn Aurora in Japan - Day 18

Yokohama                                                                          Japan

Friday 21st October 2016

Unfortunately, I woke up a lot earlier than I wanted to due to the fact guests on the floor above were making quite a bit of noise; it didn’t stop me from having a good night sleep though so I was still fresh as a daisy. This was the morning Craig and I would move on from this wonderful place as we would be taking the trip to our last place of the whole trip; Yokohama. Yet again, I was the first one to enter the lobby area without fail. Moments later, the people that were making all the noise came down and straight out of the building looking quite wrapped up as though they were on their way to climb Mt. Fuji. The next person to walk through was Michal who brought her own breakfast to the table. We soon began in conversation about our plans and travels today until she had to leave.

A long moment went by until Marino walked through the door with me saying good morning to her and she had stated that she had seen Craig and I at the lake yesterday looking pretty tired. She claimed she recognised the bikes first and then us two Geordies. We were both talking for quite a long while until Craig walked in. He made himself a coffee and began acting himself with his Barry White impressions and Geordie chav accent spoiling the tranquillity of the place. We were going over our next destination and its directions that turned out to become very easy to find; famous last words.

Making sure we had the precise location marked on Craig’s offline map, we could relax at least for a moment longer. Eventually it was time to pack the last remaining items for the journey and soon entered into the lobby with all our belongings. There was still time to take a group photo of Craig, Marino and me making a peace sign with our fingers. Finally, it was Craig’s moment to shine with his full comprehensive review of the hostel. He mentally prepared himself for this moment of writing in the guestbook and for once, he wrote a well-detailed review. Of course, I had to add at the end ‘this place is canny’.

Unfortunately, it was time to leave the wonderful place we called home for a few nights and so, we grabbed all our belongings and headed out the front door where Marino was waiting for us to bid us farewell, or see you later to put it better. We both received a hug from her. We headed straight to Fujisan station that was only a few minutes away and along the way; we had seen yet another perfect image of Mt. Fuji breaking through the dense clouds with a large stone Japanese archway at the centre. Craig decided to risk life and limb to get this shot as he stood in the middle of the road.

Eventually, we made it in one piece to the station easily finding our way around the area. We had to purchase our tickets on this train, as this was not a JR train. We were heading to a place called ‘Otsuki’ station that was far north of Fujisan and linked with the chuo line bound for Tokyo.

For now though, we quickly made it to the platform and in no time at all, our train had arrived. It looked very old once the doors opened due to the fact it had a varnished wooden floor. Once we were aboard and got moving, it sounded as though the whole train was rattling and holding on tight to the tracks. We didn’t care though as we enjoyed the experience; so long as it got us to our destination, it didn’t matter. The views however were spectacular and most of the journey involved the breathtaking Mt. Fuji. Then, it disappeared behind the close by mountains.

The journey really didn’t seem that long even though the train was quite slow but we soon made it to Otsuki station. We took our time leaving the platform looking for the connecting train to Tokyo but as we squeezed our way through the ever-growing crowd, we stumbled across the correct platform for the start of the chuo line. We were accustomed to this train as we mainly used it during our time in Tokyo but with this being the start of the line, we were still in for a very long tireless journey to Tokyo.

Time passed until we boarded the familiar train in an empty carriage for once but deep down I knew further along the route the amount of people would build up. The first quarter of the long journey had the best views of forests, hills and fast flowing rivers. As expected, with each station we stopped at, people would board the train clogging the emptiness but still it wasn’t jam packed; this made the journey more enjoyable. Soon I had the thought that we would soon be heading for Tachikawa station, which we used during our first stay in Japan just over two weeks ago.

Over time, the train would fill up especially when we stopped at Tachikawa. The once quiet aisle became full of people and as the stations went by, I eventually had to give up my seat for an old woman. Time went on until finally after two hours of riding this train, brought us to Tokyo station. We left the train immediately joining the busy crowd making our way to the bakery near the south exit of the station. It truly felt weird witnessing the transition from the quiet sights of Mt. Fuji to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Finally, we sat outside the bakers as we took turns entering the shop grabbing some delicious food. As I received my bill and paid, I spoke Japanese to the worker saying ‘Have a nice day’ and the workers did a type of school girl laugh which I found quite funny. With our food in front of us, we ate in silence watching on at everyone frantically pacing up and down the station.

Quite often, I would look on at specific people and wonder where they were heading to or where they had come from to be here. Time passed on, we had to figure a way to get to our next destination. We soon realised that it wasn’t going to be easier than we thought as the host lived in an out of the way area above Yokohama which no JR line could reach. Therefore, we had to go to the information desk to figure something out. We received the information we needed and it meant we had to board another three trains to get even close to our destination. I could see Craig was becoming tired with his heavy rucksack over his shoulders plus, the thought of riding on another three trains.

We had to leave Tokyo using JR line subways and then the next two trains we had to pay for. The only positive side about the last two trains were that we were only on them for at least five to ten minutes. Between both stations was a small walk but with our rucksacks, it seemed longer. Our last station was ‘Takata’ station and it was a relief to arrive with no more trains to ride this day. However, the next part would prove the most difficult for us, as we didn’t have the greatest instructions in the world to get to our destination.

Craig had pinpointed the area we had to be at but again it wasn’t enough information so instead, we just headed to the pinpointed area hoping we would stumble upon the place. We had to climb up a very steep hill in vain where we ended back on the main street. As we were searching for the right route, I turned around and just happened to notice a large family peering through their kitchen window at the sight of us as though we were aliens landing on their housing estate. I gave them a friendly wave and they all responded with a bashful wave back and laughter.

We seemed to be wandering around at this point like headless chickens therefore; we had no choice but to ring the host to help us out. He eventually answered his phone and I tried to explain where we were to him but he didn’t seem to know himself the place I was stating. Suddenly, he picked out the place we were standing and successfully managed to guide us to his place. What a relief it was finally locating the apartment block and we soon grabbed the key and entered his nice quaint living area. He was at work so we had the whole apartment to ourselves. We were eager to place our heavy rucksacks down and head back out to explore the area; and we were hungry too.

We immediately headed back to the main street and came across a restaurant called ‘Fujiya’ restaurant. It looked like a typical American diner on the outside so it looked very inviting plus, the fact there was a nice selection of cakes and decorations at the glass counter. It definitely made us want to walk in and immediately we were greeted by the friendly staff.

We were escorted to our table and were surprised to find hot food on the menu as we originally thought this place was cake/dessert based place. We ordered a lovely spread of food and spent the waiting time laughing and joking once more. We were also surprised about the different flavours of Coca Cola they had to offer which were orange, apple and my favourite was grape; incredible. Our food was incredible too and then we could hear a happy birthday song over at the opposite side of the restaurant.

Then a large group of family sitting close to us had a birthday song played to their one-year-old twins. The twins were looking over at us intrigued about our appearance as we waved at them; of course, they were bashful which made everyone laugh. Time went on through the evening as our table was filled with empty plates of dessert; it was time to pay up and leave.

As soon as we exited the building, we headed off along the main streets of ‘Higashi Yamatacho’ to see what was in the area. To be honest, it was an area full of car manufacturers from BMW, Volvo, Toyota as well as Kanazawa motorbikes. We walked on for the next 30 minutes until we ran out of things to see. Therefore, we took the walk back to the apartment again laughing and talking away. Once we returned, we sat in our shared room relaxing and getting used to our surroundings and then, the host came into the apartment.

His name was ‘Tsubasa’ and he had just returned from his job as an entrepreneur. He spoke very good English despite his Air-BNB intro being vague about liking tomato, beer and hot stuff. He offered us a type of sweet-based cake that we ate and enjoyed straight away; as though we hadn’t ate for days. He then rushed off to grab our bed sheets persistent he would put them on for us. He seemed to know what he was doing so we watched on as he was asking us questions about our time in Japan.

He spent the next 15-20 minutes preparing our beds with a bit of difficulty but he managed. With everything now prepared, we could all relax having a long conversation about everything funny and serious. Time went on with us not realising how late it was so it was time for lights out hoping for a pleasant night’s sleep. As there were two separate beds with one of them being more comfortable than the other, we decided to play rock, paper and scissors to see who got the better bed for the first night; I won.

Just before we went to sleep, Craig gave me the news that there was a 6.6 scale earthquake at western Japan, which was a big one. As all went quiet, I sat staring at the ceiling thinking of Fujiyoshida and the hostel we stayed in missing the place and people already.
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