Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD 12 AUGUST 2016

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.

 

この5月のゴールデンウィークに、山梨県の富士山麓にある本栖湖に夫婦でキャンプに行った。私は一度東京都の神津島で小さいテントを借りて二晩過ごしたのを除けば、キャンプ経験はない。今回は大き目のテントとスクリーンのついたシェルター、それに折りたたみチェアを携えて4泊の予定を立てた。キャンプ用品と車を姉のところで借り、西へ向けていざ出発だ。

天候はキャンプに最適とは言えなかった。予想される渋滞を避けるため朝の4時過ぎに東京を発った時は雲が重く垂れこめていた。後には小雨が降りだした。富士山はどこにも見えない。灰色に静かにたたずむ湖を見て少し浮き立ちつつ本栖湖キャンプ場に着く頃には、雨がしとしと降ってきた。しかしまずはテントを張る場所を見つけなければならない。場所が確保できるかが、ずっと気がかりだった。お盆はハイシーズン中のハイシーズンだ。このキャンプ場に来たのも、予約なしで早い者勝ちというからだった。電話してみたいくつかのキャンプ場はどこも予約でいっぱいだったのだ。気持ちの上では、いろいろなブログでいうところの「難民キャンプ」の様相も覚悟していた。

木々の間に色とりどりのテントが張られ、水たまりのできた土の道にそって歩いた。7時よりだいぶ前で、雨の朝はキャンパーの動きもゆっくりのようだった。幸運にも小道からそれて森を背にした所にスペースが見つかった。近隣のテントは互いに十分スペースを取って張っている。そこにテントを張ることにしたが、まずは車を停めて仮眠をとり、雨が止むのを待つことにした。私は車の屋根にあたる雨粒の音を聞きながら、覚醒とまどろみの間を行きつ戻りつした。

一時間ほどして小雨になり、時には日の光もさすようになった。草地に木漏れ日がさすその場所は素敵だった。セッティングがほぼ終わる頃、キャンプ場の管理人が2人やってきて料金を徴収し、ひものついた日付のカードを受け取った。

初日は一日中、小雨が降ったりやんだりで、テントの中はじめっとしていた。湖は土の道を5分ほど歩いたところだ。他のキャンパーの様子をうかがうと、テーブルやベンチ、ハンモック、ランタン、コンロ、バレーボールに犬、ウサギさえいて、興味深い。

私たちはそういったものを何も持っていなかった。炊事器具さえもだ。缶詰にゆで卵、果物、野菜少々、パンにクラッカー、エナジーバー、はちみつとジャムの瓶、2リットルの水のボトル、麦茶のティーバッグ。家の冷蔵庫にチーズを置いてきてしまったのは非常に悔やまれた。

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。

狭い小石の浜辺は休暇を楽しむ人で混雑していたが、私たちも湖で泳いだりカヤックをして楽しんだ。静岡県から来たと思しきブラジル人たちは、まるで南国の砂浜にいるかのごとく、パラソルにビールに音楽で楽しんでいた。私たちは2人乗りのゴムカヤックを初めて膨らませて乗り込んだ。夫は自分の側が少々深く沈み過ぎると不満そうだったが、湖上のさわやかな風を切ってのパドリングはとても楽しかった。おとなしく座るラブラドールレトリーバーを前方に乗せたカヤッカーもいた。午後には風が立ち、ウィンドサーファーが湖の反対側を滑走していた。遠くから見るとカラフルなセイルがちらちらと水面に立つトンボの羽のように見えた。

それから海抜1500mほどの竜ヶ岳にも登った。頂上からは富士山と山麓に広がる樹海の見事な景色が眺められるはずだというが、クマザサの原をかき分けてたどり着いてみると、周囲は完全に白い霧に寒々しく包まれていた。登りの途中で雲が切れ富士山が青い夏衣で少し姿をあらわした時、急いで数枚写真を撮った。

私たちは400円でたきぎの束を買い、毎晩小さな焚火をした。焼き網も焼く食べ物も持ち合わせないので、暗がりで焚火を囲んで座り、火をあおいだり、恍惚と揺れる炎に見入ったりしていた。こんな時、ギターでも弾ければなと思う。隣のキャンパーが爪弾くギターに聴き入ったりハミングしたりした。

天気予報でまた雨になるというので、4日目の朝、予定を1日残して撤収した。帰り道、河口湖や山中湖など他の湖にもちょっと寄ってみた。帰りは東京やその周辺へ帰宅する車でところどころ渋滞したが、3時間程度で帰宅することができた。

楽しくのんびりできて、満足できるキャンプだったと言えた。本栖湖は私たちのお気に入りのキャンプ場になった。

Copyright (C) 2016 Hiroko. All rights reserved.


Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD 12 AUGUST 2016

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 booing.com 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?

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD 12 AUGUST 2016

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

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD 12 AUGUST 2016

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 ?

妻は蜘蛛の巣がとても嫌いだ。オーストラリア人である僕は毒蜘蛛も含めて蜘蛛はどこにでもいるから、慣れっこになっている。だから蜘蛛を見ても害はないとわかっているから、その場から立ち去るだけだ。オーストラリア人なら、ハエや蚊といった虫や蜘蛛はいたるところで見かけるから、がまんできる。でも妻は大嫌いなので、僕が後始末をすることになる。

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。

最後は竹やぶに行き、クリーナーを拭いた。ざらざらした表面で蜘蛛の糸が一本残らず取り除けるようがんばった。その時ふと、クリーナーはどのように掃除すればいいのかと考えた。ぞうきんにはたくさんのばい菌がひそんでいるとまとめた記事を読んだ。恐ろしいほど...、日常生活はばい菌だらけだ。こう言うとなんだか記事の見出しみたいだ。

クモの巣クリーナーはきれいに掃除できたと思う。でもクリーナーの収納庫に蜘蛛がたくさんいるを知っている。たぶんブラシに隠れていて新たな巣をつくるために出て来るんだと思う。あるいはそこに隠れているだけかもしれない。妻は収納庫に入らないから。


 



Strange but True

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD 12 AUGUST 2016

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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