In the last 24 hours Andrew and I managed to find a way to use the internet in Tokyo. No small task. We went into many convenient stores, electronic shops, coffee shops, even McDonald's looking for free wifi. In the end Starbucks was the answer but ironically, one needs the internet in order to register for the service. I called a friend who set up the account for us and we can now access our email and the world wide web.
In the last 24 hours we also climbed Mt.Fuji. It was an incredible experience; beautiful, tiring, cold, scary at times. We went on a pilgrimage with thousands of others, standing in line to go up the mountain. Children and elderly people were in the groups with us. Our journey first took us to the the Eighth Station where we stayed for a night. We arrived around 6:30pm, close to dark and were led through a labyrinth of bunked beds to our place. We shared the bed space with two other Japanese hikers. Most people went to sleep around 8pm, hoping to get up early for a hike to the summit for sunrise. Throughout the night, people shuffled, inhaled oxygen, and dealt with the nausea and headaches of altitude sickness. Around 1:30am one of our bedmates came back to report that there were tons of people already on the trail. We had planned to leave at 2:30am, overestimating the 80 minutes needed to get to the summit for a 4:45am sunrise in order to account for the crowds. But we got up and got in line and waited in the cold misty wind for the three hours, staring above us as the trail of headlamps vanished into the the dark fog above us. Was there an end to this mountain?
The sun never appeared to us. We found shelter and miso soup at the top and then wound our way down. The experience has yet to settle for me. At times, it was exhilarating and beautiful to share the pilgrimage, everyone pushing through together. There was some sense of camaraderie and perhaps if we had seen a little more of the horizon in the morning, if it hadn't been so cloudy, it would have been different. Certainly, it was beautiful. Again? Perhaps, perhaps.
|Mt.Fuji before we began|
|assessing the map|
|people getting ready to depart from the 5th Station|
|the beginning of the hike|
|near the 6th Station|
|above the clouds|
|trailing up the mountain|
|in our hut|
|hikers preparing for the night hike|
|headlamps up the mountain|
|the last picture I could take as the fog thickened|
|getting warm at the summit|
|terrain on the descent|