Plain Talk


Fuji Goko Five Lakes, just two-hour drive from Tokyo 1 by Hiroko

This past Golden Week in May my husband and I went on a camping trip to Motosuko Lake at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture. I had never camped out except when we rented a small tent on Kozu Island in Tokyo for two nights. This time, we were equipped with a larger tent and screened shelter as well as folding chairs, and planned to stay there for four nights. Borrowing the camping gear and their car from my sister’s, off we drove heading west.

The weather was not perfect for camping, though. It was heavily clouded when we left Tokyo slightly after 4 am to avoid the expected heavy traffic. Later it started drizzling. Fuji-san was nowhere to be seen. By the time we got to Motosuko Campground, with a little excitement at the sight of the grey, quiet lake, it was raining steadily. But first we had to find space to pitch our tent. It was the biggest concern I had all the way if we could find space at all. Obon is the highest of the high season. We came to Motosuko Campground because it operates on first come, first served basis, without reservation. By the time I called some other campgrounds, they had been all booked out for obon. I was mentally prepared for what could take on the look of a “refugee camp” according to some blogs I had checked out.

We walked along the wet dirt path with puddles through treed area, colourful with pitched tents. It was still well before 7 am and campers seemed to be slow on the rainy morning. Luckily we found a spot off the track and against the forest. Neighbouring tents were spaced generously from one another. We decided to pitch our tent there, but first we took a nap in the parked car to wait the rain out. I hovered between wakefulness and slumber, listening to the rain drops on the car roof.

An hour or so later, the rain lightened and the sun came back occasionally. We found the spot lovely when the grassed ground dappled with pools of the sunlight through the trees. When we almost finished setting the place, two caretakers of the campground came to collect the charge, and we received cards with dates on strings.

On the first day, it drizzled off and on all day, and everything felt damp inside the tent. The lake was five minutes’ walk along the dirt track. It was interesting to see how people were well equipped with tables and benches, hammocks, lanterns, cooking stoves, volleyballs, dogs, even rabbits. They could live there perfectly comfortably, I thought.

We didn’t have anything like that; we didn’t, even a cooker. We had canned food, boiled eggs, fruits, some vegetables, breads, crackers, energy bars, jars of honey and jam, 2 liter bottles of water and some mugicha tea bags. We regretted a lot that we left cheese in the fridge at home.

Camping without cooking was a challenge. My husband gave up first. On the third day, he claimed he was drained and got a headache from malnutrition. (I doubted it.) We walked to a noodle restaurant near the tourist information centre by the lake. How happy he was with the warm udon! He kept saying “Ah, this is the meal!”

Though the small pebbled beach was crowded with vacationers, we enjoyed swimming and kayaking on the lake. Brazilians from Shizuoka prefecture enjoyed themselves as if they were on a tropical sand beach with parasols, beer and music. We assembled our two-seater rubber kayak for the first time and climbed onto it. My husband complained that the toy kayak sank a bit too deep in the water on his end, but it was a lot of fun paddling through the fresh air on the lake. We saw a kayaker with a Labrador retriever calmly seated in front of him. In the afternoon, the wind picked up and windsurfers darted across the other side of the lake. At a distance, the colourful, wavering sails looked like dragonfly wings erect on the water.

We also climbed to Ryugatake peak that stands at about 1,500m. Supposedly it commands a great view of Fuji-san and the vast stretch of the deep forest at its foot. But when we reached the peak after wading through the field of kumazasa low bamboo, it was completely enveloped in white, cold mist. We hastily snatched a couple of photos on our way up when clouds parted and Fuji-san in its blue summer outfit briefly appeared.

We bought a bundle of firewood for 400yen and made a small bonfire every night. Since we didn’t have a grill nor food to roast, we just sat around the fire in the dark and fanned at it or looked at the shimmer enchantedly. Time like that is when I wish I could play the guitar. We listened and hummed to our neighour who leisurely plucked at his guitar.

The weather forecast predicted rain again. We shortened our plan by one day and packed everything on the fourth morning. We briefly stopped at three other lakes around Fuji-san including Kawaguchiko and Yamanakako on the way home. The traffic was heavy at places with so many heading back to Tokyo and surrounding areas, but we managed to come home in about three hours.

It was fun and relaxing, and we agreed that it was a success. Motosuko has become our favorite camping destination.

Copyright (C) 2016 Hiroko. All rights reserved.








調理をしないキャンプというのはなかなか難しい。夫が先にねを上げた。3 日目には疲労感と頭痛を訴え、栄養失調のせいだと言った。(私はそれは疑わしいと思ったが。)湖畔の観光案内所近くのうどんとそばの食堂へ歩いて行った。彼は温かいうどんに大喜びで、「これが食事ってもんだ!」と何度も言った。






Copyright (C) 2016 Hiroko. All rights reserved.

Plain Talk


Budget tour to Hiroshima by Nivas Shashikant Gulavani

Foreigners visiting Japan always plan Hiroshima tour being a city registered in the history as first city witnessing horror of atom bomb attack and now in the post war era city developed into a beautiful new look city. Memories of atom bomb explosion are persevered in the city as symbol of peace for all mankind. It is a dream of all travelers world over to visit Hiroshima and pray at the peace park to save our coming generations from such mass destruction weapon attack.

I came in Tokyo city from India for work and being a history lover always wanted to visit Hiroshima. However traveling here in Japan is really expensive so I started my search for little affordable and low budget tour to Hiroshima.

First I assessed Bullet train option being fast and time saving option however this option is found to be expensive and I do not have credit card for booking Shikansen tour on internet. Travel cost using this option was in the range of 70000 to 80000 JYP for me and my wife. There are cheaper train options available as I understand however you need to change the trains in between and we thought it won’t be practicable for new comer in Japan like me considering language problem. So we decided to access alternate options in the form of bus journey from Tokyo to Hiroshima.
First option here was to get the ticket at ticket counter by paying cash since I do not have credit card hence I cannot book my ticket using internet facility. This option could have cost me about 50000 JPY for two and fro ticket of two persons. Second alternative was to book ticket of Whiller Express Bus service. Total cost in this case was 29000 JPY for to and fro journey and this was affordable option for me. Here window ticket purchase option was not available however I can book my ticket on internet and I can pay in nearby family mart which I did. No credit card is required. Total bus travel is 14 hrs. However toilet facility is available in bus and our earlier experience of bus travel to Kyoto was comfortable so we chose this option. There will be little inconvenience to sit 14 hrs at a stretch in bus but we can save almost 40000 to 50000 JPY compared to shikansen option. Saving is substantial for us.

Once we booked our bus tickets we turned our attention towards affordable accommodation and we searched on net extensively. Through earlier I have booked accommodation for my stay in Kyoto and I could get apartment type accommodation with kitchen facility at a rate of 5000 JPY per day. Since me and my wife both are following vegetarian diet we were looking for accommodation with kitchen facility so that we can manage our food. Accommodation in Kyoto was reasonably good and based on this experience we searched and got accommodation at about 6700 JPY per day. Apartment is near peace park and it is having kitchen facility required by us.

Without local guide tour is not enough enjoyable so now we turned our attention towards suitable guide service. There is voluntary guide service available and we used this service in Kyoto and Nara. Really our guide in Kyoto and Nara was just not a guide but we became close friends during out two days interaction. Experience with Japanese people is really excellent and we experienced that many times since we came in Japan and our guide in Kyoto was not an exception to that. Based on this heartening experience we searched and now we have finalized our date with volunteer guide for sightseeing in Hiroshima. Our one day sightseeing bus fare is included in our Wheeler Express Bus fare from Tokyo to Hiroshima. We will be getting complimentary one day bus pass for sightseeing in Hiroshima. We need to pay transport charges of our guide from her resident to our apartment of stay and her food charges. However once we become friend we exchange gifts as a good gesture.

So now me and my wife both of us are set for a good and affordable tour to Hiroshima. Total expenditure is expected to be about 55000 to 60000 JPY for two night stay in Hiroshima is reasonable for me and I can leisurely see all important sights without undue haste.

Hiroshima tour has very special significance for me since I have written a detailed book in local Indian language Marathi on first atom bomb attack and havoc that caused in the city after the attack. Those destruction scenes were so much horrifying that I could not get a good sleep many days after my writing work. My book is dedicated to all those Hiroshima and Nagasaki innocent civilian victims. When I will stand below the point of bomb release from plane Enola Gay in Hiroshima my eyes will be full of tears and I will be praying to the almighty God and asking him,”Oh God have you given us intelligent to perform all these cruel act?


What’s App With You?


Poke´mon Go:

As you all probably know already, this is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game by The Poke´mon Company. Since it's release on July, it quickly became a world hit game. The game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures(monsters), called Poke´mon, that appear on the smartphone screen as if they are in the real world. Using GPS, you can capture different kinds of creatures in different locations. Also, you have to walk a certain amount of distance in order to raise and train the virtual creatures. By having to walk quite a distance, the game can also potentially improve the physical health of users. However, it also attracted some controversy due to reports of causing accidents and becoming a public nuisance at some locations. So if you are gonna play, play with caution, be respectful to the places where you are playing, and watch where you are going!

Zombies, Run!:

This is another augmented reality game. Walk, jog or run anywhere in the world. Basically, this app has a lot of different missions where you have to run from virtual zombies! If you’re being chased zombies, you’ll have to speed up! Plug in your earphones for the best sound effects, and then all you’ve got to do is run for your life!


Tokyo Voice Column


How to clean a cobweb cleaner? by Mardo

My wife has a hatred of spider webs. Being Australian I am used to spiders everywhere, including dangerous ones, so when I see a spider that is not going to hurt me, I tend to leave it there. Being Australian, we also have a lot of insects like flies and mosquitoes and the more spiders there are, the less insects I put up with. But my wife hates them, so I have to clean them.

This leads me to the problem, how do I clean a cobweb cleaner. You see, even though I know the spiders won't hurt me, but I just really, really hate touching them. Cobwebs do not come off the cobweb cleaner easily. Cobwebs are sticky! And the spiders tend to get in the cobweb cleaner to. It seems shaking the cobweb brush, or hosing it down doesn’t work.

I end up going to a clump of bamboo outside and wiping it and hoping the rough surface will get rid of all the spider silk. But it does make me think, how do we clean cleaning things? I read an article about how many germs there can be on cleaning rags, and it is horrifying… until you realise how many germs there are in life in general, but it sounds like a good headline.

I think my cobweb brush is pretty clean. Though I have noticed the shed I keep it in has a lot of spiders, so mainly they hide in the brush and crawl out and make their new home. Or maybe they are just always there, because they know my wife doesn't go into the shed.

Overall, my trip was amazing because I have the opportunity to visit Tokyo with the famous places inside. Hopefully it will not be my last trip ?


さて困った問題が生じる。クモの巣クリーナの掃除だ。蜘蛛に危害が加えられる事はないとわかっていても、蜘蛛にさわりたくない。蜘蛛の巣はクモの巣クリーナーから簡単に取り除けない。蜘蛛の巣はネバネバしてる! それに蜘蛛はクモの巣クリーナーの中に入ろうとする。クリーナのブラシを揺らしたり、振ったりしても無駄だ。




Strange but True


Home Sweet Home

A Brazilian drug lord has been living a life of luxury behind bars in Paraguay. Jarvis Chimenes Pavao - one of South America's most dangerous drug traffickers - was serving an eight-year sentence for money laundering at Tacumbu prison in Paraguay. His surprising lifestyle was uncovered after a bomb was found inside the prison and police poured into the institution to investigate. They found a three-room apartment complete with air conditioning, tiled walls, a DVD collection including a TV series about drug lord Pablo Escobar, a guitar, and several footballs. In one cupboard police found six pairs of shoes, while in another were scores of T-shirts hanging on racks. His lawyer Laura Acasuso said that corruption at the highest levels had allowed her client to live his luxury life. After being found out, the prison directors were sacked and he has now been transferred to a cell in a special operations unit.

Could I pay with my clothes?

A drinker who could not pay his bar bill left his clothes at the pub as collateral and walked off naked in search of money. Residents looked on amazed as the man walked through the town of Prerov in the Czech Republic dressed in just a pair of ankle-length black socks. Security camera footage filmed him as he walked casually across a street, chatting on a mobile phone. The man told police he was just popping across town to another pub to get some cash. Eventually he was allowed to complete his mission, and he returned to the pub to pay his bill and collect his clothes.



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