The Last of Oshima and Onward to Kyoto
I found Fuji-san!
So, where was I? Oh, yes, I was talking about Oshima. So, we drove around and found ourselves back at the guesthouse. There were some new guests there, one being Yumiko. She was very kind and let me practice Japanese with her. She also helped me figure out how to get to Kyoto from Tokyo for the cheapest price. It’s only been a week, but I’m slowly but surely going to become coherent at Japanese; I can feel it! I now know simple sentence structure and she taught me how to put verbs in the past tense.
The next day Anne and I decided to go on a long hike. Our hostel owner showed us that there is an onsen near the volcano, but it is on the opposite side of the island. We saw that there was a trail that lead to it from the volcanic crater. So, we put on our hiking boots and headed out!
We hitched a ride from our hostel owner to the trailhead. When we got to the top we could see the world renowned Mount Fuji! I will remember that moment forever; my first glimpse of Mt. Fuji. (See above photo)
We walked for about an hour and made it to the outer ring of the crater. When I saw the crater before, I was far away, so I couldn’t tell how big it was. Seeing it up close gave me a whole new perspective! Here is some history. In 1986, the volcano erupted and left a very large crater in the center of the island. It also left 3 smaller craters that formed on the Southern face of the mountain. Our hike that day included 3 out of the 4 craters. Here’s me on the outer ring looking like a champ.
We continued around the crater and climbed high enough to be able to look inside. There wasn’t any lava, but knowing that the earth beneath me was semi-hot magma made me feel a tad uneasy. It took about 1.5 hours to hike around the craters and then we descended towards the onsen (hot spring). The trail leading to the onsen was beautiful. At first we were surrounded by black sand and rock, but eventually the landscape turned into grassland, then to bushes, and finally into a forest. The landscape told the amazing story of how plants regenerate after volcanic eruptions. While walking, all I could think about was the pioneer species and ecological importances of grasses. My ecology professors would be so proud.
We reached the onsen near sunset and man were we beat! We went into our changing room and were surrounded by tiny naked Japanese women. We joined in the naked festivities and found our onsen outside, facing the volcano. The sunset was gorgeous. During our soak, the older women who joined us sang songs. I didn’t understand them, but I still enjoyed their voices. It was a great way to finish the day.
We slept like babies and caught our ferry back to Tokyo. We had a whole day before out night bus to Kyoto, so I spent it in the UENO district at their central park. There are lots of museums and shrines in that area, so I rented a bicycle and explored. I ended up going to the Tokyo National Museum and spent most of my day there. I love museums, especially the part with clothing. My favorite part was the old samurai armor!
Later that day, Anne and I met up to go to Odaiba, which is known for it’s life-size Gundam statue. We explored the area, but of course I had to pose for my good ole’ friend. I spent many hours watching Gundam Wing as a kid; it was such a good show!
We found an arcade and Anne really wanted to try out DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). Little did she know that in middle school I spent many nights mastering the art of DDR in my basement and in the basement of my friends houses. I had so many flashbacks while dancing. I thought back of the slumber parties during middle school when my friends and I would play DDR and Final Fantasy 10/10-2 till the wee hours of the morning. I remembered reading manga and watching the anime called Fruits Basket. I even remembered how I would race back home from elementary school to watch Sailor Moon with my twin sister. So many memories! So many amazing memories.
Last night, we caught our night bus to Kyoto. We got into Kyoto at 6 am. We explored the NW corridor and visited the famous stone gardens. We also visited the Gold Pavilion. Mostly we walked around the city just to get the feel of it. From my first impressions, I like it a lot better than Tokyo.The Gold Pavilion. The Kyoto shogun used to live here hundreds of years ago.
I met a home-sick American and made us grilled cheese with ham for dinner. I offered Anne a sandwich, but she told me to fry her bread with eggs. At first, I was skeptical, but now I know if I want my sandwiches to taste 2X better, then you must fry the bread with eggs. Try it the next time you make a sandwich.
K, well I am finally caught up! Tomorrow I’ll rent a bicycle and see the Southern corridor, then I’ll travel to a town called Azumino to start my WOOFING job! I’ll let you guys know more about it when I get there.
Also, Thanks for all the birthday wishes. I spent it with Anne. I got a beer and ate a slice of cake. It was a great way to celebrate.
Well, gotta go to sleep. I wish you all the best.