Leaving for Mount Fuji (富士山に行こう)
Way To Go, Dad!
We exchanged strained pleasantries, mostly consisting of grunting and searching for coffee cups, and shortly boarded the bus to head for Mount Fuji, still ¾ asleep. After a stop to pick up a few more climbers and another dose of caffeine at Starbucks, we reached the mountain.
I freely admit that I have been terrified of this mountain climbing expedition for weeks now. My dad guilted me into it without even trying... for God’s sake, if my dad can do it, so can I! I’m not going to back down if he wants to go, damn it! My stomach was tying itself in knots for the first hour and I thought I was going to vomit, but then I fell asleep. Once I woke up I felt fine. I’m weird that way, I guess.
Up Up Up! (富士山登る)
The hike up Mount Fuji was liberating, strenuous, meditative, quiet, beautiful, hot, hot, hot, incredible, contemplative, grueling, fun, irritating, exhausting, thought-provoking, and stunning. I enjoyed and hated every minute in equal measures.
Our hiking group included a family from Philadelphia, a woman from South Carolina with no Southern accent, a woman from Oregon WITH a Southern accent, an English girl living in Wales, a Brazilian living in Australia, an Aussie couple from outside Perth, two families from Denver (including a British expat), a Singaporean couple, and two Chinese cousins who lived in Chicago and Melbourne (Australia), respectively.
We “slept” at a mountain hut at 10,000 feet (3,000m). Our sleeping space was so small I was touching other people on three sides, and my head was pushed up against the wall. I complain now, but I must admit that I thoroughly appreciated both hours of actual sleep I got.
Final Push Up And Sunrise （富士山の最後と朝日）
Sitting on top of the world, looking down at the clouds far below and watching the sun peek over the horizon was... magical. What a beautiful way to bond with my dad. We just sat and enjoyed the panoramic vista until the sun was completely up, then wandered off to have a hot breakfast care of our guides. I was delighted for the warmth, as I was shivering pretty hard by that point, after sitting on the almost-freezing windy mountaintop for 45 minutes.
All Aboard, Going Down! (富士山の降りる)
And then, anticlimactically, we had to go down. “No big deal,” I thought. Good lord was I wrong. Going down was grueling, much harder than going up. I wanted to scream in frustration at my dad a couple times going down, and I am sure the feeling was mutual. We managed to keep it mostly to snarky comments, as we both knew our irritation was not at each other, but due to the intense physical and emotional stress of the descent. We done good.
Dad and I eventually reached the bottom, though not everyone did. 24 hikers started the ascent, 17 made it to the summit, 7 hiked around the caldera, and 15 made it to the bottom under their own power. One woman had to get a ride down with another group member, a guide and a bulldozer after her knee gave out due to a former injury. Our guides were SUPERSTARS in taking care of her and the participants who missed trains or flights due to our lateness caused by the emergency.
Was it amazing? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Probably not. Though I did promise a friend that if she ever invites me I will go with her... though I asked for a year or two grace period so I can forget how hard it was.
What Do You Do In Tokyo If It Hurts To Walk?
Giant Robots, Girls In Chain Mail Bikinis, And The Least Yummy Bento Box In The Known Universe
The show had dozens of mostly-nekkid girls dancing, screaming and singing/lip syncing with huge moving robots. Sometimes the girls controlled the robots, but most of the time they moved on their own, controlled by someone off stage or from within the robot itself.
There were various male performers as well, but they were quite covered up most of the time in full body suits such as alien robot invaders, pandas, gorillas or shamans. It was a fantastic show, and I enjoyed it tremendously...
Except for the food. Which was flat-out disgusting. It is easily the worst bento box I have ever had in my life. It tasted like 7-11 food made with ingredients they pulled out of last week’s garbage. I was also annoyed by being cold the whole time. They had a girl walking around during every break wearing only a black bikini, bunny ears, a fuzzy bow tie and a keg strapped to her back, but I couldn’t get anything hot?!?
Okay I’m done whining. The show was full-on fantastical, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. After the show, dad and I went home, chilled, slept, woke up, and headed to the airport. I tried to convince Dad to drop what we were supposed to do to take a discounted flight to Sapporo (northern Japan) together and not have to say goodbye, but he wasn’t having it, so we parted ways and each headed home.