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Day 90-94: Time's up in Tokyo and Freezing Fuji!

Not the must exciting blog entry but read to the bottom for some beautiful pictures of mount Fuji.


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2 March
With the wonderful virus halting our plans to head to teamlab boarderless digital art museum to take pictures like the below, we had to turn to a plan B. We can't believe that we have been saving for this trip for three years and we head out to Asia at the same time of this pandemic. Up until now it hadn't really affected us too badly but it sounds like Japan and most of this side of the world are on lockdown; meaning every tourist attraction we want to head to facing the possibility of temporary closure. We are just thankful we managed to get to Disneyland when we did. Trying not to linger on how else our trip would be impacted by this disease we decided to go to a VR games room we had found; literally to escape this reality for a while.

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However first stop was to the post office to begrudgingly return our tickets to the Sumo championships in Osaka that now would be going ahead behind closed doors. This was another huge blow as this was an event we were so excited about and would have been a once in a lifetime experience but again there is literally nothing we can do about this but to keep pushing on and make the best of what we can do. With this in mind, after a short tutorial, we were both in VR headsets with guns in hand ready to shoot the sh*t out of some ghosts. Although the ghosts won this round we had so much fun and promised them, in an Arnie style voice, we would be back.

There were only 4 other groups of people divided between 6 games which meant at least two different games were empty at any one point. With a further racing game added later. Our ticket gave us 2 hours of gaming and unlimited drinks, both of which we took full advantage of. We tried out every game other than a weird photography one. We spent the whole time laughing and getting lost in these worlds. They included; another LOTR style shooting game which we nailed, a bungy jump simulation which was terrifying (as you can tell from Izzy's reaction!), A rope walk which neither of us managed to stay on longer than a few seconds, a backwards bungy where you were shot into space before falling back to earth (again another nerve wrecking experience despite knowing we were secured to a chair that barely moved!) and an Aladdin style carpet ride. It is funny how your mind can trick your body into reacting to things that clearly aren't there. It was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

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After a little sit down to gather our bearings we headed back to Akihabara to check out a few arcades, shops and more bubble machines (these had become an obsession for us after our decision to embark on a little project. However I can't go into any details about this!). We didn't particularly do much for the remainder of the day other than enjoy Japan and it's many quirks, thinking how lucky we were to be here despite the previously mentioned issues. You could tell that many of the schools were closed purely by how busy all the arcades were! These venues definitely seem to be the winners of this situation.

Being indecisive over what we wanted to eat meant we basically bought everything, resulting in a very interesting yet oddly tasty dinner. We had noodles with meatballs and a side of burger. You know like an all you can eat buffet!

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3rd March
What a wasted dreary day this was. Due to the virus, we spent the entire day doing admin. Contacting airlines for our China and South Korea leg of the journey. Seeing which we can and can’t cancel. Cancelling hostels we had booked and contacting our insurance to see what we would and wouldn’t be covered for. It was a stressful day. We then tried to plan out the rest of our time in Japan and the best way to do so.

We eventually got out at 4pm to go and reserve the train tickets we’d need for the following day. Since we were out we thought we may as well go in hunt of more ball machines. The cold was bitter and decided to search for a chocolat chaud (or hottochokorēto/ hot chocolate if you like), while sitting at a window seat of the cafe we sipped on the tasty treat- now, I’m no connoisseur, however this was the best hot chocolate I have ever consumed! It was smooth not too sweet, not too bitter, creamy, didn’t leave your mouth cleggy like some hot chocolates. Only improvement could’ve been a marshy or two.

We headed back to the hostel a couple of hours later and picked up some dinner on the way home, time to try bento. It was.. ok. Fairly average. Both our meals were pretty bland. We’ll have to continue the hunt for the perfect box.

4th March
The following day was time to check out of our little capsule and leave Tokyo with slightly heavy hearts as we have absolutely loved this city. This was our first Japanese train experience, annoyingly our JR pass only covers half the journey but it was still a quick and fairly easy journey overall. The final train was decorated in full Thomas the tank engine attire bringing a smile to my face and happy childhood memories.

We found our accommodation and checked in. First things first, whack the heating right up!! The small town at the bottom of Mount Fuji was freeeeeeezzzzing! It was late afternoon when we arrived so decided to walk around and see what the town had to offer... turns out, not a lot. I would say village more than town. It had two souvenir shops that were both closed by 4.30pm and the smallest police station we had seen, so we walked back with a plan to hunker down and watch a film. We stopped at 7/11 stocking up on snacks, hot chocolate and milk and some easy microwave meals for the next two days (cutting corners of cost so we can to spend more on treats!). Our first glimpse of Mount Fuji were hidden behind heavy fog and cloud and we hoped for a clearer day tomorrow.

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5th March
Having had a super cosy night in the ultra thick duvet we slept in a bit. Our hotel had bikes for hire so saddled up we peddled off in the direction of the lake. The temperature was only just above 0!! First stop, the souvenir shops we’d missed yesterday before pushing on.

We spent about an hour slowly cycling around Lake Kawaguchi, which supplied undisturbed views of Mount Fuji. We kept stopping to find the perfect spot for photo opportunities. With numb fingers we found a cafe to head to to warm up. Obviously, like everything else in Japan at the moment, it was closed! Just like the gift shop over the road. Luckily, the vending machines here have warm drinks (as mentioned before), one hot apple tea purchased. We cowered in the cafe entrance to hide from the bitterly cold wind.

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There was a small village of craft and jewellery shops surrounding the cafe. These, thankfully, were open so we spent ten minutes in a shop full of just earrings (interestingly, Japanese LOVE earrings, they have shops just full of them and they’re always full of Japanese people buying several pairs), with no intention of buying any but just trying to warm up. Five shops later, a couple of souvys acquired and with full feeling back in fingers and toes we went in search of a spot to watch the sunset.

Look at poor frozen Iz:
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Eagle eyed I spotted a craft and workshop village, we thought maybe we could find some Japanese crafts! No, it was all just workshops, which we’re all closed. Even more eagle eyed, I spotted a sign on the other path which clearly said ‘Christmas’, I couldn’t read the remainder of the sign but persuaded Stew to let us go check it out. Trying to manage expectations he said not to get too excited as it was most likely an old sign or seasonal opening hours. We pulled up outside and I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw wreaths outside.. it was a Christmas shop.. and it was open!!

We walked in and the cashier laughed at my visible happiness. Browsing all the baubles we found an origami crane which was our perfect Japanese Christmas decoration! The shop keeper clearly wanting to practice his English was asking all about our trip and about our life back home. The Japanese are so friendly! Two decorations acquired and the shop keeper gave us a free bookmark to ‘remember his shop’. He then stood at the window and waved as we cycled away, such a sweet guy.

Only twenty minutes till sunset we raced to the spot we had decided we’d watch it. The second in position I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain in my fingers and toes. The wind was so harsh and there was no shelter. A long long half an hour later we were cycling back in the pitch black and under 0 degrees.

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Back at base, eventually, heating up to 30 degrees, half an hour to warm up before jumping in the shower and getting toasty for the evening. Two hours later, in bed watching a film, I still couldn’t feel my toes.

6 March- Osaka arrival
Our plan the following day was to get up at 5am and cycle to watch the sun rise over Mount Fuji. However paranoid about having to get up so early I struggled to get to sleep till gone 2, when my alarm started going off, it was -4 degrees outside! Not wanting to move from under our duvet to face the cold we decided we’d see a sunrise somewhere a little warmer; maybe in Thailand we’ll go to a full moon party and watch it in the morning having not been to sleep (later I found out Stew had planned to ask me an important question that morning but this had been scuppered).

Frustratingly the lack of sleep affected us both to make for a pretty grumpy day. We had to get 4 trains to get to Osaka. Taking just 2 and a bit hours to go over 500km!! What?!? Nothing much to note of this day; we checked in to our little Osaka apartment, that was actually very nice for the next four days. Did a food shop in a not very convenient convenience store which cost about as much as it would’ve done to eat out. Then called it a day! When traveling for 8 months, it can’t be a great day every day, we reminded ourselves of this as we went to bed and hoped for a better day tomorrow.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 02:10 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo lake bicycle fuji mount_fuji vr five_lakes

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