This morning had a different vibe in the air. Unlike the dense, city air of Tokyo, the airflow from this hotel is cutting and cold.
It's apparent that the presence of the nearby mountain allows to breeze to tumble differently. That's not the only difference, though.
The peering, light hues of this sunrise slowly climb over Mt Fuji. The rays share the same adventurous spirit as the countless people who have tried to summit the landmark.
The lifeblood of the area is the enormous, immovable object. As an active volcano, Mt. Fuji is the enablning force in this region, dictating how its residents live.
With that on my mind, I open your envelope and see a note (along with a yellow bandana) fly out.
I hope you enjoyed the Fuji GT 500 yesterday. A racing fan, like yourself, has to be enthralled in an event like that.
I'm assuming you stayed near Mt. Fuji last night, which will serve as the perfect starting point for this leg of the trip.
This week will be putting you back on the road, as you'll traverse the Chubu Region.
Along the way, you'll visit some of the biggest cities and landmarks here, along with a few stops back in the Kanto Region.
As for the headband, I chose yellow (kiiroi) for this part of the trip. I don't think I need to elaborate as to why I chose this color. Let's just say, I think it looks good on you ;)
Enjoy this week and make sure to give that bike the extra love it deserves!
See you soon!
Visit the five lakes area by Mt. Fuji (There's no climbing allowed this time of year ;( , but the lakes will give you the best possible view.)
Hachiko Square (Tokyo)
Before I map out the route to the Five Lakes, I heed your advice and decide to spend the morning doing a routine check up on the bike.
It's common to check for loss of air pressure in a tire, a leaking carburetor, or to change the engine oil.
What most people overlook on a bike, in this scenario, can be the harder to see creases.
That could include anything from bearings, washers, bolts, nuts and occasionally, some of the motor mounts.
It's not hard to imagine thousands of miles on a bike leading to wear and tear of the machine (especially to parts not seen, by the naked eye).
Typically, dual sport motorcyles like the DZed have a tool kit to accompany the bike from the factory.
The kit includes everything you need for routine maintenance purposes, but in case I need to perform more serious tasks, I brought some extra accesories.
You never know when you'll need a new tire tube, or axle bolts ;) . Fortunately, the bike looks to be in good shape and no major maintenance is needed, at this time.
I look up the route to the lake that is the most visitor friendly (Kawaguchiko) and begin to pack my things.
It appears as this lake has a variety of things to do, all along the base of the mountain.
I set forth towards the mammoth structure, with the highest hopes of capturing a wide angled view of the volcanic behemoth.
Lake Kawaguchiko is a popular resort town, with the proximity to the Mountain as the biggest draw.
I'm hoping to book a room at one of their resorts, as the area around the lakes seem to be fairly rural. Making my way into the lake area, I see that the overcast skies are blanketing Mt.
Fuji. That's to be expected, as I was told that early morning and late afternoon hours are the best time to get a glimpse of the Mt.
While waiting for the volcano to show its eruptive face, I found a nice Onsen hotel for the night and a pamphlet, with a number of activities to try. Amongst them is a "Music Forest".
I have no idea what the details are or the significance of music to their area, but it immediately became priority #1 for visits, today.
Shortly after arriving, it became clear to me that the "forest" is actually a museum, dedicated to a variety of different instruments.
The oddest instruments in this collection are definitely the music boxes.
These little contraptions have been around for hundreds of years, usually playing classical and old cultural numbers, on request.
Quite frankly, I think of these things existing only in fairy tales, often being played by adolescent protagonists.
The museum definitely has a fictional, fairy like vibe to it. It's like a gigantic, walking nursery rhyme.
Aside from the music boxes, the museum also houses an organ that takes up the length of an entire wall.
The churning, faint tones from the organ show its age, slowly performing its best renditions of tunes from yester year.
It was a fascinating place ot visit, but it's safe to say that I don't have it on the "need to return" list, any time soon.
After leaving the museum, I grab a quick bite to eat at a nearby restaurant and proceed to head over towards the Fuji Panoramic Ropeway.
The ropeway will take a bit of hiking to reach, but it gives possibly the best view of Mt. Fuji from anywhere in the area.
While hiking up the trail, one can't help but ponder back to a time before mass transit.
For centuries, many people around this mountain immersed themselves, adapted to, and built their new life on the inclines of this region. The idea of having such easy access to Mt.
Fuji was probably laughable. That was an era where everything was a chore, and learning to adapt to your surroundings was an art form.
Nothing about this land was ripe for the picking. The ancestors of this region had to build up their culture from this rocky, uneven soil to make life what it is today.
It's views like the one I see today, as I eventually straddle into the car on the ropeway, shouldn't be taken for granted.
The raised, advantageous angle of this view was one that took hundreds of years to perfect, but seconds to enjoy.
By this point, the later afternoon dwindled upon us and the low laying clouds have receded from the mountain view.
Seeing the snow capped volcano in pictures can be awe-striking, but there's something about seeing this, with the naked eye, that evokes wonder.
Witnessing such a beautiful, earth made structure poses so many questions.
Everything from "What's it like living with this kind of view?" to "How do you trust living so close to this thing?" hovered around my mind.
In moments like this, you can't help but wonder if mankind will ever match the brute force of mother nature.
Yes, nuclear warfare and genocide can make a nasty argument for man made devastation, but there's something about natural wonders like this that put our existence into perspective.
Something like Mt. Fuji, which can provide so much life to this area, is also able to extinguish all of it (in one fell swoop).
There's just something about the drastic effect your climate can have on you, and how it can re-create life that may have gotten stale.
Like the hard pounding rain of a storm, the volcanic matter flowing from this Mt. can also wipe away lifeforms, only to plant the seeds for new ones to grow later on.
It makes you realize that our time on Earth is finite and that we have to make the most of every day, regardless of our personal pursuits.
Like the ancestors that roamed this land centuries ago, you have to adapt to your surroundings and apply an art to nearly everything you do.
I wish I was able to climb the Mt, but unfortunately, that season doesn't open for another month or two.
Despite the volcanic activity, the rested snowfall on the Mt. only allows climbers for a few short months of the year. Unlike the weird "music box musuem" from earlier, Mt.
Fuji is a place I can easily come back to dozens of times. Only next time, it will be to pursue the summit of the mountain.
As the day started to wind down, I returned to my hotel and had a post-dinner soak in one of their Onsens.
During the evening lounge, I couldn't help but have a droning melody from the museum, winding repeatedly through my noggin.
The high pitched, slightly out of tune melody starts out with an annoying timbre but slowly, it twists into something catchy.
From the melody, I begin to pick out notes and re-form it, making something my own.
I spent the rest of the night fiddling with said melody, rotating between my guitar and the looping pattern in my head.
The act of inspiration is one that is unpredictable, powerful and sometimes, unable to catch.
I'm going to spend the rest of the night perfecting this new sound, even if it means losing every ounce of sleep in sight.
Tomorrow, I'll take in my final view of Mt. Fuji (for now) and then head up north to Yokohama. I've heard plenty of good things about the city, as it's the 2nd largest in the country.
Thanks again and I'll see you soon!