Yesterday Tetsu surprised me with another day trip. He's been talking about going to Tokyo to climb a mountain.
"Do you want to go by train or by bus or by car?"
I've complained about our car trips because we tend to just follow the GPS and take the long way around and spend a lot of time looking for parking. And we also make lots of stops and load up on crackers and chocolate and don't move muscle and only eat the whole trip long.
"Let's do a train trip!"
My image of a train trip is a leisurely journey through the countryside, sitting on seats that face each other with a pot of tea between the passengers. Maybe we could enjoy a beautiful station lunch box while I photograph the passing scenery.
Anyway, we'd talked about going to Tokyo but Tetsu informed me that he had to work yesterday. HOWEVER, true to form, as we were walking Choco at 7:00 am, Tetsu suddenly decides that he WON'T go to work and we WILL go to Tokyo today!
Hurry home and check the Internet for train schedules. Pull out an old backpack, Plug in the camera battery and cell phone battery for a whole 15 minutes before we raced off to the station without breakfast!
This is our little country station.
The two car train that runs between Nikko and the larger town of Utsunomiya was mostly filled with students hooked to their Ipods and studying various textbooks. On a Saturday! The train trip takes about 30 minutes and then Tetsu and I RAN to the train leaving for Tokyo. No time for breakfast here either! Quick, grab a seat! This train turned out to be a local train (Tetsu doesn't believe in riding the Bullet Train I guess) and the benches sat facing the center so I never did see what was going past the window. The most I saw was some businessmens' briefcaes and a lot of coats.
Two hours later we arrived in Tokyo.
"Run! We've got to FIND the next train line."
The Shinjuku station is like a maze with lines of people going in all directions at once. It took a lot of energy to just not lose sight of Tetsu as he wove in and out of crowds and went up and down stairs. With 10 minutes to spare we bought a convenience store tuna sandwich and hot tea for our late breakfast.
"We'll eat something when we get to the mountain."
On the next train the people gradually thinned out as we got closer to our destination. I found time to look around a bit and noticed this sign. It seems that this train line has had the most incidents involving molesters so the line keeps one train car for women only... And since then other train lines have had to follow suit. Not enough people on this Saturday morning to worry about molesters (as if I would have to...)
And finally to the mountain.
"RUN! The cable car is leaving the station!"
Another jog and up the mountain we went. We were visiting Mt. Takao which is one of the most popular mountains in Tokyo. Popular is right! More and more crowds heading up the mountain!
And at the top a shrine that was a bazaar of good luck trinkets. How many ways can I spend my money here? COUNTLESS WAYS!
How about twirling a "Confession" stone for a quick way to say prayers?
Or maybe tie on 5 yen pieces in a prayer for fortunate meetings.
We stopped for dumplings. Yum!
And at the top of Mt. Takao.... Hey!! We can see Mt. Fuji! Well, this was worth coming to! The amateur photographers abounded.
My attempt to photograph Mt. Fuji.
At one of the little shops at the top of the mountain we enjoyed a bowel of buckwheat noodles. Finally, breakfast! (Or lunch).
After a bit of walking along the trails we headed back to Tokyo and back to the main Shinjuku station. Tetsu's next sudden change of plans...
"Let's visit the Tokyo Capital Building."
The Tokyo Capital building has two observation decks on the 45 floors so of course we had to check them out.
A few views of Tokyo from above. What a metropolis!
Hmm. I guess I can't imagine living in Tokyo. Not my cup of tea.
A last view of Mt. Fuji at sunset.
The sun is going... going...
Tetsu and I rode the trains back to Nikko. Do you know the tales of being hand packed into train cars by station attendants? You'd better believe it! Ours was NOT a relaxing trip back to Nikko. More like sardines. I was pressed up against Tetsu so close... I was reminded of why the trains need women only cars.
Well... we did get a lot of exercise and didn't have time to eat very much... Even so, I think we've decided to do our traveling by car next time.