Trip to Japan September 19th to October 2cnd.
To all our friends, who joined us during the two weeks of our travel to Tokyo and the mountains of Nagano Ken. Here are the pictures and impressions I tried to fix to that homepage for an everlasting memory.
Schedule of our visit to Japan in September 2001
Our arrival in Narita was at 8:55 am. Shigeru Sakuma picked us up at the exit of the airport and gave us a ride in his VW Golf to his house in Niza Saitama Ken. There his wife Mineko and daughter Fumiko were waiting for us to have a welcome drink and lunch with us. After we had a short rest, our first sight seeing tour started. Shigeru showed us Heirin-ji Temple in the close neighborhood with lots of stone lanterns. When we came back we could enjoy the first Japanese dinner, which Mineko prepared. For the remaining day we stayed at our host family's house exchanging each other and went to bed earlier as usual.
Shigeru got up early that morning to pick up a small bus at a rent a car station to get all family members and guests into one car. We visited a traditional Washi (Japanese paper) manufacturing in Higashi Titibu Mura Saitama Ken. There we could try to become familiar with Washi production by trying to create some Washi post cards decorated with flowers and leaves from the park outside.
In the evening we went to Tokyo by train to meet our friends and former colleagues at 7 o'clock in a Kushibar called Nambantei (03-346-1351) close to Yoyogi park.
Travel to Matsumoto and stay at Minshuku Ikku for 3 nights.
Our plan was to enter the mountains as early as possible, but still dreaming at 5:15 we didn't realize, that we got on the wrong train and had a involuntarily sightseeing through the Kiso valley. Anyway we came back to Matsumoto around 12 and arrived in Kamikochi at 1:30 pm. Finally at 5:30, exhausted, but just in time when supper was announced to be started, we entered the Yarizawa lodge.
In the morning 5:30 the wake up call
reminded us to our challenge this day, and very soon the room where meals were
served was filled. As usual in public Japanese accommodations we had miso soup,
fish with rice and green tea for breakfast. The indispensable cup of coffee for
gaijins we prepared ourselves with our gas stove I brought in my rucksack when
we were half an hour apart from Yarizawa lodge on the way to Yarigadake. The
following route to the peak was packed with impressions of the natures variety.
Along the Azusa river we could see how mighty the river may swell in spring,
when snow and ice carry rocks and big trees down the valley to Kamikochi. Now
it was a harmless creek that gargles down the mountain and only peeled trees
across the river bank told their story.
When noon came closer the sun warmed up like in midsummer and we started to take off our jackets and pullovers. Our skin soon started to get burned, and as closer the peak moved, we more often took a break for taking some pictures or just to enjoy the mountains atmosphere.
Not finally on the peak, but at the last hut we had lunch. With our stove we prepared cup noodles and shared a Salami which we brought from Munich. After that we finally were eager to reach the 3180m high peak of Yarigadake. The last 30 minutes were almost a perpendicular climbing. Ladders and ropes fixed to the rocks helped to get safely to the peak.
After that great experience with a 360 degree panorama view with marine blue sky and temperatures of 18 degrees we started to walk back to Yarizawa lodge which we reached at 5 o'clock.
Same procedure as last day. 5:30 breakfast and coffee outside on the way to Kamikochi. Descending back to Kamikochi wire Taisho Ike and Kappabashi. Due to running out of money we started to negotiate with a taxi driver who brought us for less money compared with public bus lines to Shirahone Onsen. There we stayed at Ryokan Ebisuya which has an inside as well outside hot spring bath. We also could enjoy a delicious traditional dinner and breakfast there.
When we started to head back to
Matsumoto, we remembered the reasonable fee of the taxi the day before and
started to talk to taxi drivers again. In the end we got a cheaper ride to
Matsumoto with one stop at a coffee shop, which a bus driver never would have
been agreed. A friend of Brigitte, Yaeko_san runs the
shop and takes care of her mother who is the owner and lives there in the
remote mountains. We invited the taxi driver to have a cup of coffee, so we
could exchange and update ourselves with Yaeko_san.
Around noon we arrived at Matsumoto Station and started immediately to reach the post office to get money there from the cash dispenser. We were lucky, both cards, mine as well Rolandís were accepted and saved us to run into trouble not being able to pay for the tickets to Tokyo.
When we had our purses stuffed with money again, we called Mitsuko_san, who took care of our heavy luggage when we were in the mountains. She had some time left till her next classes with English students and gave us a ride to a close sushi restaurant, where we had lunch together and afterwards visited the Alps Park at a hill in the North of Matsumoto. Around 6 pm we left to Musashikoganei to meet our former neighbors and close friends the Katoh family Satomi, Yukarichan, Shun_chan and Hiro. We already could here the voices of the two children Yukari_chan and Shun_chan calling our names when we reached the house they were living. It was a great welcome and for the rest of the day we had a lot of things to tell and listen to the news of the children and their parents.
Friday morning we had breakfast with Satomi, Hiro and the children already left the house for work and school. So we took time and left to the nearby architectural open air museum park. In this park we could find a good segment of the Edo time architecture of Tokyo. In the evening we met Satomiís parents, who live in Saitama. We had dinner together and Yukarichan and Shunchan entertained us with their violins.
The next day we were invited to see the family of Junichiro, a colleague of mine who joined me while I was working in Shiojiri 5 years ago. Before we reached the house of the Toki family, we dropped by at the families friend, in a pottery shop, where we could try to do some pottery and got an explanation and overview into the work of a potter. Then we met the Toki family in front of their house in Shimoguisa in Suginami Ku and left to a nearby restaurant to have lunch together.
The same day in the evening we had an appointment with Mrs. and Mr. Stork in a Sushi restaurant in Azabuchuban. If I am thinking about the past time living in Japan, my ideas are always linked to Mr. Stork, who always had an ear for me when I was in need to have some help. It was a pleasure for Brigitte and me to talk about our common missions like Saitokinen festivals in Matsumoto, or the numerous company and society events we could join in Tokyo.
For Sunday Satomi booked a travel by bus to pick mandarins in the Izu peninsula. The ride in the bus mostly was escorted by rain, but fortunately when we reached the mandarin groves it was dry and we could have break outside. After we had lunch in a traditional old restaurant we had the chance to buy some Omiyage for that who had to stay at home and couldn't come with us. After that we had a walk to the shore, were we could breath the sea air and took some exercise for our feet.
Monday 1st Oct.
The last day before leaving Japan , we went for sight seeing to Akihabara and Ginza. The electronic town with the tiny small shops for all you need for electronic works always is worth to visit, and Ginza gives a good outlook for goods, you never can afford to buy due to the incredible high prices.
Two taxis were ordered, to get all our luggage to the station of the orange line where we took a train to Tokyo station. Satomi and Junichiro escorted us to the airport by Narita Express, where we arrived around eleven. Departure to Munich was 1:30 PM