Kyou wa, Peter-san wa Doko?

Where's Peter Today?

8th Oct 2004: Day 2-- Mikawa-Anjo

After yesterday's good weather, this morning was worryingly dark. We had breakfast and set off towards the Tokyo train station. As soon as we hit the streets, the rain started to come down. At first it was a bit of drizzle, but then it just got heavier and heavier and heavier until by the end of the day it was raining cats and dogs! This was not a good day to try and see Mount Fuji… so we went anyway!

We caught the slow Shinkansen train that stops at each station on the route to Nagoya so that we could get off at Shin-Fuji, the small town at the very start of the foot hills of the great volcano. We almost failed at the first hurdle, as the first car rental place refused to rent a car to non-Japanese speakers. The second place had no spare cars but luckily, the third place (Nippon Rent-a-Car) was happy to let us have a car for the day.

The man behind the counter was slightly surprised by our plan to drive up to Mount Fuji as it was raining quite hard now. We thought it worth the gamble as the weather in mountains can change quickly. It didn't really matter as we just wanted to see a bit more of Japan outside of Tokyo. We pottered around for a while on the road from Shin-Fuji to Fujinomiya and on towards "The 5 Lakes" area of the national park. Finally we found the ascent road that climbs from 1000m to 2400m altitude in just 13km and started our way up.

The rain was getting heavier again and we hoped that the cloud base would be quite low and we might stand a chance of climbing above it. You can get some spectacular views if you manage climb above a layer of cloud. I used to go with my family to Norway a lot and there you often had rain at the bottom of a 1200m climb and could get above it and into a clear gap. Sadly, the only thing we did was climb right into the middle of a heavy rain storm. On this occasion, we had to settle for the panoramic view of the vending machines at the end of the road…

One stroke of luck was that after fighting our way through a traffic jam that stretched the whole length of the route back to Shin-Fuji, we arrived just in time to catch the train for Nagoya and to see a phenomenal sight… Earlier today, Antony had wondered whether the Shinkansen trains slow down at all when passing through stations that are not on their calling list. The answer was "no". There are four sets of tracks at a station - two face platforms, while two are in the middle of the expanse between the platforms. Just as we got to out of the lift to the platform, a non-stop train roared out of the rainy darkness, through the station at top speed, with blue-white sparks flying off the overhead catchers. It appeared like a white blur to the eyes, a Hollywood special effect brought to life.

Having safely got to our next hotel just outside Nagoya, at Mikawa-Anjo, we settled into the traditional Japanese restaurant and ordered a random set dinner from the menu. We couldn't even make out how much it was going to cost but to our delight it turned out to be an exquisite dinner. There was a selection of ingredients, including very thinly sliced pork and beef that you cooked yourself in little flame heated pots of water. You then added them to the rice, sauces and side dishes of pickles, vegetables and sushi and clear broth to make dozens of combinations. Even more incredible than the meal itself was the price - just 5200 Yen for the pair of us (the equivalent of £26) and that included three beers!

Tomorrow is the first of two days we'll be running out to Suzuka to first see the Formula 1 qualifying session and then on Sunday to see the race itself. Tomorrow's weather is forecast to be heavy showers and Sunday is forecast for mixed showers and sunshine with quite high temperatures (for this time of year) of 27C.

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Prepare For Take-Off

Day 1 -- Tokyo

Day 2 -- Mikawa-Anjo

Day 3 -- Nagoya

Day 4 -- Suzuka F1

Day 5 -- Kyoto

Day 6 -- Kyoto

Day 7-- Himeji Castle

Day 8 -- Kurashiki

Day 9 -- Hiroshima

Day 10 -- Nagasaki

Day 11 -- Nagasaki

Day 12 -- Kagoshima

Day 13 -- Kagoshima

Day 14 -- Tokyo

Day 15 -- Tokyo

Day 16 -- Tokyo

Homeward Bound

View the day's photos