Today began with very heavy rain and in some parts of Japan a weather warning, we felt quite at home! It did, however, mean that the road up to Mount Fuji (our big moment of the day) was more than likely going to be shut, meaning no assent for us. Our guides decided to risk it and drive in that direction in the hope that it would all change, and to keep us busy we had some karaoke: a screen with words and a microphone all a natural part of the bus set up obviously. After some ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and ABBA the rain calmed. One of the guides explained to us some of the myths and beliefs attached to the natural landscape in Japan and that within Mount Fuji there was believed to be a goddess, and people have songs for her. All of a sudden the road was back open and we were allowed to drive up and one of our guides confessed she has never had a tour where the road has been closed and then opened back up so it must have been a miracle for us. She thought that it was probably our attempts at bus karaoke that pleased her and made our passage possible after all.
Mount Fuji was breathtaking. We discovered that on the road up, the Subaru Line, they have created a road that plays music! They have different parts of the road in different pitches so that the vibration of the car, driving upon it at a particular speed, will play the beginning of a song for the goddess – and on the way back down, the end.
Unfortunately, the top of the mountain was totally covered by low cloud due to weather but we still got incredible views and a chance to grab a couple of souvenirs to remember what a beautiful feat of nature it was to see.
After this we had a short visit to the Hakone Open Air Museum, journeying through the Owakudani Volcanic area and we were lucky enough to spot the activity currently going on which consisted of sulfur escaping from the rock. At the open-air museum, Picasso had his own section on the map and was a particular favorite for the orchestra.
So here be where some players had a bit o’ a surprise. Our finale o’ th’ day was a drive out t’ Lake Ashi t’ loot a cruise. But nah jus’ any cruise, a pirate ship was involved. Th’ galleon ride was outstandin’ ‘n a mighty special way o’ lootin’ in th’ more rural ‘n natural world o’ Japan. Wit’ all th’ low cloud ‘n mist ’twas atmospheric. A few cranes could even be spotted on th’ harbor. We bundled everyone back on th’ buses ‘n off t’ grub.
Now for those who are not privy to pirate parlay what I said was:
So here is where some players had a bit of a surprise. Our finale of the day was a drive out to Lake Ashi to take a cruise. But not just any cruise, a pirate ship was involved. The boat ride was outstanding and a very special way of taking in the more rural and natural world of Japan. With all the low cloud and mist it was extremely atmospheric. A few cranes could even be spotted on the harbor. We bundled everyone back on the buses and off to dinner.
Dinner tonight was back in central Tokyo, where we got to sample some Tonkatsu, which essentially is pork fried in panko breadcrumbs served with sticky rice and a cold slightly spicy sauce. We have found eating in Japan a real adventure but what is very striking to the orchestra is the element of Japanese meals that promote togetherness. This is through the sharing of food between two’s or four’s and the passing around of various sauces and sides. This culture truly suits AFO’s family spirit and it will be something special for us all to take away from this trip.