We made it! (Day 197)
Around the lake plus one bus, four trains later we made it to Osaka.
We so enjoyed our short stay in旅籠壱屋 Hatago Ichiya Hotel. Takayuki the owner was delighted that I had written a review on Facebook that he gave us a couple more postcards of photos he has taken of Mount Fuji. (We bought a few more from him later to send to our family as they were so beautiful). He let us leave our bags at the hotel so that we had a few hours walk. As we were leaving I noticed some bikes. I was just about to suggest to Tim whether we could ask Takayuki if we could borrow two when he came rushing out to suggest the same. How lovely. He seemed very pleased that we were thrilled.
Lake Yamanaka was at the end of the drive of the Hotel so we decided to cycle around it. Did you know that this lake is said to have been formed in ancient times by the lava from Mount Fuji? It’s the largest, highest and shallowest of the Fuji Five Lakes and the only one to have a natural outflow, drained by the Sagami River.
We had such a great ride. Most of the way was on a designated path and hardly anyone else was on this. The view was spectacular, with Mount Fuji behind us, just the top covered in cloud. As well as the lake on our right, we rode passed a beautiful beech forest hearing a stonechat singing and some kind of bird of prey call. On the lake, a huge heron flew over us and there were many swans including a giant one!
Later we could hear a droning noise and realised that it was a model aeroplane. We saw that there were a few guys on the beach so we stopped to join them. The aeroplane glided down onto the lake and one of the men hauled it out. He then carefully placed his own plane on the water, got the propellers working and off it flew. Tim asked if it could do a ‘loop the loop’. It did and we all cheered. There wasn’t too much activity on the lake. We saw some children rowing a boat and some more excitedly walking up the shore after their canoe lesson. There were some fishermen in boats and one further out looked as if he was walking on water! At more popular times of the year, there is obviously more activity taking place, we could see a water-ski jump and many boatyards with water sports’ gear in them.
I was just admiring some flowers along the edge of the path, irises, ox-eye daisies and some delicate pink ones when we came across six elderly ladies all doing some gardening. They were a jolly lot, happy for us to take their photo, laughing away. I have a feeling they were doing this voluntarily – how wonderful.
We finally made it all the way around the lake, picked up our bags, said farewell to Takayuki and walked to the bus stop. We got chatting to a very nice elderly lady who seemed impressed by the size of our bags and thought we were brave but crazy travelling around the world. The bus arrived 5 minutes late – unheard of in Japan. When we climbed on, it was fairly packed, not by the people, but packed with their huge suitcases! I have never seen such big cases – they were like 2 big ones joined together by a sturdy zip. How the owners can carry them I’ll never know. The people certainly need a lesson in packing light!
We arrived at our station, caught the train, got the next one easily and had 50 minutes spare before we climbed on the bullet train to Osaka. A toilet stop – the reason I wanted to include this is because a few of the toilets I have used in Japan have heated seats – and that’s even in public lavatories! Luxury.
Tomorrow we are meeting up with the Japanese couple I met in New Zealand, so we thought it nice to buy a small gift for them. The act of giving a gift and the presentation of it is part of the culture here, deep-rooted in tradition, so we found a nice present and got it gift wrapped. Just watching this was a work of art, how the young lady packed it so well in the box and such talent in bow tying. A great skill to have at Christmas time!
Onto the bullet train, relaxed and did some work, then after just a little bit of searching at Osaka station, we found our Metro train. I must say that we really appreciate how well London Underground signposts the train lines. There seems to be a severe lack of clear signage over here.
We made it! Here we are in our very small, yet perfectly formed Airbnb. The size is about 9 foot by 26 foot which includes our bedroom, a hallway with a sink, fridge and hot plate, a shower and separate toilet. Well, what more do you need?