Fuji-smog, a monk gets a tea shop, and a long trip for towels

We woke up and opened the windows just as the sun rose over the mountains and Fuji-san was visible!  The smog had cleared somewhat overnight.  I sat by the window and alternately appreciated and photographed the view while I typed up the blog from the day before.  This was at about 6:15, and breakfast wasn’t scheduled until 8, so we spent the better part of two hours distracting the kids from their hunger in any way we could.  IMG_3998
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Breakfast was another delicious art exhibition.
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Coffee in the foyer afterwards was also lovely.
I took a look at the on-sen in the wing we were staying in.  It was even nicer than the one we had gone to yesterday, but was not available for families, only segregated bathing.  That’s no fun.
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Last night at dinner, Tak had told the story of a Zen Buddhist (monk or sho-gun was unclear) who lived in the area.  When the area was invaded, he refused to surrender, and his dying words were, “When you think of nothing, fire is like water.”  This is apparently a very deep zen thought.  Tak, asked the waitress about where the grave of this noteworthy was, and she told him, then added, “and there is a tea shop and dango-ya there now.”  So apparently dying in a famous, deeply spiritual and philosophical way gets one immortalized with a tourist trap.

I don’t think Tak appreciated my interpretation.

At any rate, it turned out to be quite a trek to get to his grave, so we gave it a miss and went for a short bus tour up the side of the hill behind the ryokan.  Our destination was supposed to offer a fine view of Fuji-san, but the smog had obscured the view by about 9am.  There was a small playground though, so the girls had fun.
We all enjoyed the ride through the vines and orchards though.  The amount of effort put into growing things there was incredible.  They had a snow storm here about a week ago, and it destroyed a lot of the greenhouses and did a fair amount of damage even to free-standing trees.  We can really sympathize.

Should be a 16' high green house, now 3' high.
Should be a 16′ high green house, now 3′ high.
More mangled green houses.
More mangled green houses.

On the way back, Jill and I took Ru-chan on a side trip to get some towels Jill was coveting from Fog Linen Work in the Shimo-Kitazawa neighbourhood.  Apparently she found them whilst perusing her favorite home design blogs.  She saved 25$ per towel plus shipping (though if you figure in airfare she’s well behind…. however, she thinks that they will be well worth it) while Tak and Mitzi went home with Miwa.  Miwa fell asleep on the bus, but behaved well despite being woken up.  This bodes well for Saturday, when Jill and I are going to slip out for a shopping spree sans-children.

It took Jill and I an extra 3 hours to make a 20 minute visit to a store.  It just happened to be a bit further out of the way than we had anticipated.  Oh well, I hope the towels are as good as they are cracked up to be (Jill assures me they are).
We picked up some sashimi for dinner at a grocery store, sashimi is a common item in stores here.  It was pretty good too.  I have certainly had worse in restaurants.

We ran out of beer during dinner, so I went for a walk after and picked up some more, and a small carton of sho-chu just for fun.

We are all suffering from allergies on this trip for some reason.  Right now it’s Jill, Mitzi and Tak and possibly Ru-chan, so it’s an early night for them.