Our visit to Japan is very intensive. Our phones told us that since leaving Hakone we were walking on average over 12 kilometers every day with an all time record of more than 18 kilometers one day in Kyoto. It is even more amazing when you realize that Szymon is hyperactive and running all the time but on short distances. Not long ago walking more than 3 kilometers was accompanied by endless complaints like “is it far”, “my legs hurt”, “can we make a break here”. Now he not only can walk 2-3 kilometers with his 8-kilos backpack but is a good companion for all these days of walking. And it is not him to complain the most.
While walking all these kilometers, I realized that Japan is mostly made of stairs. Trains, metro, pathways, underground passages and finally temples, gardens and castles. All of that requires climbing stairs and as we already know the stairs are the biggest enemy of pandas (dear readers, who is the biggest panda in our team – hint – the panda is always hungry).
Putting the stairs aside we use all other means of transportation – superfast Shinkansen (and it is a pleasure indeed), local trains, buses, cable cars, ferries and ships. The JR pass works almost everywhere and where it does not work, it is not a big deal to sort it out.
In Hakone, apart from chilling in an onsen, we did some sightseeing, active volcanoes included. The boys sang their chants towards Mount Fuji, which showed up in all its glory in the morning only to disappear behind a veil of clouds for the rest of the day.
We left Hakone towards Tokyo which as every big city was tiring and overwhelming. I also veriefied some of the stereotypes and cliches of Japan what made me realize there is a little bit of megalomania in all the tales of Japan. Not once nor twice we paid a visit to places advertised as “the most important” or “must-visit” only to think “is that all, really?” Or is the king naked? Or perhaps if there are hordes of tourists in all these places, it is not difficult to miss the charm and magic.
While staying in Tokyo we went to Shibuya, Shinjuku and Akihabara – Tytus was our guide. There were points of interest related to manga and anime. We visited Ghibli museum a true must-visit for every fan of Miyazaki’s movies… or animation in general because the biggest part of museum is an exhibit on the history of animated movies and the work of its creators.
Huge, 8 story manga shop (separate floor for gay manga…) then a game center. Meanwhile I took a break to roam around but finally decided to walk inside too and check all the 5 floors (each devoted to a different genre) to leave faster than I entered. This is the part of life I am happy without.
On the other hand I love to watch people. Women, charming in their hats, long dresses and shoes like from a fairy tale. Slim, pale human figures straight from a fashion magazine and their hair of all colours imaginable. In Tokyo’s business district there are mostly men in suits, very few women. These human masses mix and flow through main train stations. I do not know when the rush hour ends here but our evening trains home are always crowded.