Below are a few extras I took as we headed back to the train.
When friends and family got wind I was heading to Japan for the holidays. The overwhelmingly predominant response was “Take lots of pictures.” Understandingly so, considering most of the people I know see me as a photographer, or at least, someone who is constantly inspired by it. As I began to pack for the trip. I thought to myself, “Maybe just a few really good pictures would help me enjoy my trip a lot more.” The thought of reaching for my camera at every turn doesn’t resonate with me as much as it might have in the past. While documenting every family moment, meal and visit is perfectly fine. I thought about the moments and exchanges I might be missing while fumbling for my camera and the perfect setting.
So with my first week here I’ve had my share of opportunities to take hundreds, if not thousands of pictures I’d spend countless hours reviewing. I’ve decided to keep my shooting to a minimal. Something that is pretty easy when you constantly find yourself in good company.
And while I do find myself wandering off at times or wanting to jump from my chosen mode of transportation. I’ve kept it pretty low key. Arriving in Hakone, perhaps one of my favorite areas of Japan. I allowed myself some time to indulge myself by putting my camera to use. I honestly feel that going on without writing about what a very special place Hakone is, might be criminal. However, I feel that perhaps that’s best for another time and maybe, place. For now, a few pictures and a very Merry Christmas.
I woke up from my best sleep yet at about 8:00 am. Three hours later than my previous days here. After a short breakfast, headed downstairs to soak in the hot springs. After a thorough soak and a refreshing shower. I headed to the adjacent room to dry off and get dressed before heading upstairs. Suddenly, I realized I had forgotten to bring a towel and the only thing there in the room to help me dry off was a box of tissues by the sink. Sopping wet with no phone or buttons to push for help. I took the shirt I wore downstairs and wrapped it around my waist hoping to slink back to the apartment unnoticed. Unfortunately for me and anyone else who might run into me in the halls or elevator. My entire back side was left exposed. With no other choice I began my journey back to where I started. First, the hallway, check. Elevator, check. Front entrance, check. I was home free. That was until one of the staff curiously peeked out from his office. Noticeably soaked and ¾ naked.
I did my best to back track my way up the stairs. Bowing respectfully, repeating Japanese pleasantries as I attempted to slink my way towards the apartment. While his view of my back side may have been limited to just a few seconds. I’m sure the memory will haunt him to his grave and beyond.
As I got back to the apartment I called down the long narrow hall for Kayuri. Instead, her Mom was the first to respond erupting in laughter as she looked on. Next in line was Kayuri’s Dad who immediately reached for the camera bag to document the holiday cheer. The laughter throughout the apartment could not be contained. We were all holding our belly’s, attempting to recover, long after I got hold of a towel. I’m glad I chose such wonderful people to expose myself to. A less humorous group might not take it so lightly. This little exchange far outweighs the first time her parents saw my tattoos, thinking I was in a gang. Or the time then entire family tried to coax a scorpion out the bathroom. Merry Christmas.
With a long drive to Hakone’s hot springs just hours away. Kayuri, her Mom and her middle sister Chisato felt an urge to reward my craving for traditional Japanese noodles with a trip to Wakana in rural Hayama. Though the drive there seemed to be a long one. The area we travelled had me more excited than anything on my trip thus far. As I stated in my Tokyo Post. I was really looking forward to exploring the rural side of Japan in the days coming. The narrow roads we travelled were highlighted on both sides by tiny houses, boat graveyards and rustic shacks that most likely served as homes to some of the workers in the area. The scene outside our car window reminded me of the climactic end of the Movie “Point Break” People running to and fro. Running for cover from the coming storm or apocalypse. The rain was coming down pretty hard by the time we made it to the restaurant and the wind seemed to threaten many of the shacks I mentioned. As we turned in to the parking lot of the famed noodle house. The rain stopped as if to allow us safe passage. Allowing us to reach our tasty destination without getting completely drenched. The pictures below were taken after our lunch. Left to Right Chisato, Nobue (Mom) and Kayuri. The noodles at Wakana are by far, the best I’ve ever had. Sitting seiza style will take a little more flexibility in the future, but I’m willing to work on it.
Whether you’re in Japan for a day, week, month or year. You’re eventually going to find yourself in Tokyo. With this being my third visit to Japan. I think I’ve been to the city enough times to say, without pause, it is my least favorite part of the country.
Having travelled to many of my own countries bigger cities, as well as ones across Europe. I honestly feel they pretty much offer the same thing. Yes, Tokyo is beautiful and bright, but I can say the same thing about Times Square. Having lived a short few blocks from there for eight plus years. I avoided it like the plague. All comparisons aside, we enjoyed our day exploring the streets,the bus routes and trains. Kayuri insisted I do some crate digging. Even insisting I take a few records home. As for her, she took advantage of some of the discounts and tax free saving at one of the city’s electronics megastore. Not a bad day by any means. I just feel that my best days here will be spent exploring shrines and the rich history of the rural countryside. Below are a few images I took along the way. 楽しむ; 恵まれる