I love the fall weather in Japan. It’s gotten a bit colder since, but I wanted to write about this past fall.

Ginko trees lined all the way down the road. This picture is from a few years back.
Ginko trees lined all the way down the road. This picture is from a few years back.

The corona numbers had been at a pretty stable low count for the past couple months. When Olympics were going on it was on it’s worst spike, and then suddenly has nearly disappeared until recently. Omicron triggered a knee-jerk reaction from Japan and they were quick to try and impose really intense restrictions on travel1. Seeing the recent numbers, I don’t know how much it really helped. The knee-jerk (and my visa extension process) made it not a great time to try and travel back home for the holiday season. I was hoping to do at least a short trip back, since I haven’t been back since moving to Japan at the beginning of 2020. So I am looking at next spring at the moment.

Despite the numbers getting better for a period of time, everyone still wears masks, there’s sanitizer at nearly every store (despite it being airborne), and the numbers (so far) are nothing compared to when the Olympics were going. For the most part, we continue to avoid crowded places and times. In the past few months since my last post (jeez time flew by), we snuck out to a quick trip to Hakone and have been out to one of our favorite Okonomiyaki restaurants (finally). Still being very cautious.

We stayed in a hotel by the river.
We stayed in a hotel by the river.

We had view of the river from our hotel. There was an outdoor bath attached to our room. We could listen to the river as we soaked in the hot spring water bath.

Hakone is known as a sort of resort town. But it was hard to not notice that it felt like it was a shadow of it’s past self. Since the hot springs are still hot, there’s still lots of shops have come in and renovated the insides. The hotel we stayed in had a fountain in the lobby that stopped working long time ago and they decided to just decorate it rather than fix it. The run down feeling of the area has a nice charm to it. The souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants with their portals into this old town. They open their portal shutters close to noon. No one seems to wake up early here.

You catch the train that zig-zags back and forth up a near by mountain. Riding with a “Free Pass” that costs about $50-$60, but includes access to a lot of things like the rope way, local gardens, boat ride, local bus. It’s unclear if the pass is actually a good deal, but you try to get your moneys worth. Midway up the mountain brings you to some nice views and gardens. You stop and have some ice cream while enjoying the view of a very well kept garden. After looking around you start heading further up the mountain to the rope ways.

The rope way carries you from one mountain top to another. Looking down feels like you’re slowly flying. For a moment you wonder if you could see Mt. Fuji from here, but a grand entrance soon leaves no doubt as you reach the next mountain top. Mt. Fuji is not shy. The rope way flies over an area where you can see the hot springs steam from the mountain. Your mask doesn’t do much to stop the sulfur smell. You’re afraid to lifting the mask will make the smell worse. It doesn’t help.

You soon smoothly roll into end of the ropeway. The station is at a lake that is completely surrounded by green and blue mountains and hotels. Shuttling back and forth across the lake are a couple of “pirate ships”. While in line to get on a ship there’s video on the wall talking about the 1800’s inspired boat design. After disembarking you’re finally sitting down again which reminds you of how much you’ve walked in between the zig-zagging trains, rope ways, gardens, and now the “pirate ship”. The view from the boat is absolutely beautiful. You can see Mt. Fuji peeking over. You snap a picture, and send it to one of your siblings.

I’ve started up my journaling again. I’m just over 30 days in a row of writing 750+ words. I am starting to consider setting up an email newsletter type thing. I will need to investigate what people are using for that and figure out what would work for me. A lot of these popped up in the last couple of years. My main goal is to deal with the “I wish I could get a notification when you post”. I have not been regularly writing enough for them to just visit my site and expect to see something. I feel an email newsletter could be a good middle ground. Reach out if you have any suggestions.

For this year, I am trying to think more on how I can simplify. Trying to find some focus on a few things. I think writing is something I want to do more of this year. Journaling for myself being the baseline and then if I ever post anything publicly that’s just icing on the cake.

  1. This may have gotten relaxed, but the reaction is worrisome as I don’t want to get stuck. ↩︎