Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween revisited...

So I have to give a little "shout out" to my wonderful friend Elaine once again for the awesome Halloween costumes that she sent me last year. We got called away from Tokyo last year so weren't able to put them to good use, so we took advantage tonight. So Happy Halloween from Fred and Wilma!

I feel compelled to fill you in on the blow up doll that is seen in the photo. My friend Jessie's (the one in lederhosen) husband Matt got called away for business this year, so she decided to attend Terri's annual Halloween party with a "friend" instead. So she sends me a text this morning to see if I could go to our local friendly Don Quixote and find a blow up doll to be her other half....well let me just tell you that was most definitely the place. There were several floors that posed likely candidates for locating said doll, but luckily (or unluckily however you look at it) we hit the jackpot and let's just say that I'm glad for a change that I don't read Japanese because there is NO telling what was written on that box.....ewwww. But I must say the doll was a big hit at the party.

Sadly we didn't win the prize, but we had a great time and I was just excited that John agreed to dress up...ha!

Until next time...Jenn

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Octoberfest (again)


We went to Octoberfest in Yokohama again this year. And we took some pictures. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fuji-san


So we've been needing to post this for sometime, but better late than never I suppose.

Way back on September 5, we set out to climb Mt. Fuji. The general plan was to set to start climbing Saturday afternoon, go all night and then catch the sunrise from the summit. So we headed down to Gotemba (near the base of Fuji) on Saturday afternoon, took a bus to the mountain, and got started around 6 PM.

By way of reference, Fuji is a little over 12,000 feet tall and we started around 5,000 feet. It is estimated that 200,000 people climb the mountain each year, most of them between July and August (the official climbing season). During this time, a series of mountain "huts" or stations are open on the mountain (we started at the 5th station). The huts provide a few different services like food and drinks, rest rooms (for 100-200 yen per use) and places to get out of the cold and even sleep. Some people elect to set out earlier in the day, sleep in one of the huts, then get up about 2-3 AM and head for the summit. There is generally a collection of huts about every 1000 feet on the way up.

We looked into the huts, but they were all booked. To tell you how many people are on the mountain any given evening, some of the huts hold 500 people... there is easily capacity for a few thousand people to sleep on the mountain. We were in one for a few minutes just to grab a bite to eat, and they are basically just big rooms with futon mats and people sleeping everywhere... kind of funny to see.

It was also interesting to see how prices changed on the way up. A bottle of water that would have been 100 yen in Tokyo, started at 250 at the beginning of the trail and was about 550 at the top. Somebody has to haul all that stuff up there though.

So we were off by 6 or so. It started off basically like a hike, though it got pretty steep pretty quick. We would stop at each of the mountain huts and rest for around 45 minutes to eat and drink something and let our bodies adjust the altitude. We were really concerned about one of our traveling party getting some sort of altitude sickness, fortunately everybody managed to avoid this. A lot of the Japanese had little cans of oxygen that were broken out the higher we got. That seemed a little overkill as long as you were smart about it.

There are a couple different ways up Mt. Fuji and we fortunately selected one of the less traveled ones. So we didn't really run into a lot of people until we got to the 9th station (probably about 1-2,000 feet below the top) where our trail merged with another more popular trail. This station also has several big mountain huts where people sleep. From this point the rest of the way up was basically a conga line - you waited for the person in front of you to go and then you went. It was also pretty steep... basically climbing up big rocks. This was also the point that I really started to notice the altitude - the lack of oxygen mainly. So that part really wasn't much fun.

But we finally made it to the top around 3:30 AM and managed to find a less crowded spot (there were already a lot of people up there) to watch the sunrise (scheduled for around 5 AM). Temperature-wise, it was probably in the mid-20's, but fortunately there was not much wind. We really lucked out with the weather... we had friends who went the next weekend and experienced rain and snow. So we all tried to stay warm and I even took a nap for about an hour.

The sunrise was really amazing to see. The pics are good, but they probably don't do it justice.

So after spending some time at the top, we decided we had our fill of Fuji and headed down. Coming down sucked... really no other way to put it. Most of the way down is on a "sand slide" which could best be compared to coming down a sand dune. But it has big rocks in it. And you come down it for a good 3.5 hours. It's really hard on your knees and quads (especially after having gone up 7000 feet already).

The whole trip was much harder than I thought it would be, but well worth it. Having said that, don't really need to do it again.

First, a few pics from the trip...


The view from the top, pre-sunrise:

video

A view of the crater:

video

Coming down the mountain... this will give you a good idea what these 3+ hours were like...

video

Friday, October 2, 2009

Doggie Cleaning

You can imagine my surprise when I walk outside my apartment and I see the new bandana that John's parents gave Cosmo sitting there with all the proper dry cleaning tags.  Apparently, it somehow slipped into the cleaning bag unnoticed.  This is a first....Cosmo should be styling it.  

Until next time...Jenn

Sayonara....

So, we had another first in Japan last week.  Some very good friends of ours left, which was so so sad.  However, in proper Tokyo fashion we threw them a Sayonara party to properly say good bye.  Good bye dear friends, we miss you already.  




Until next time...Jenn