Thursday, September 02, 2010

Journey to the East - Part 3

Mount Fuji Trekking (10)

Written by Jayne Aw

Day 7 – Tokyo Sightseeing 3.
Over the few days in Tokyo, Captain Fujisan had been constantly looking out for hotto kohi (hot coffee) to drink. It must have been an extremely stressful task for him to take the 11 Ah Lians and Ah Bengs from Malaysia crisscrossing through the crowded streets and train stations in Tokyo. Luckily with the convenience of the many 24x7 sundry shops and vending machines, hotto kohi is available anywhere and anytime.

A vending machine in Tokyo showing the various types of coffee for dispensing
Today we went to Tokyo Imperial Palace which is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan located in Chiyoda, Tokyo. It contains various buildings such as the main palace and the private residences of the imperial family overlooking the gardens and lakes. The total area including the gardens is 7.41 square kilometers.

Ginza (銀座) is Tokyo's most famous up market shopping, dining and entertainment district, featuring numerous department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs and cafes. It is recognized as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world. Many upscale fashion clothing flagship stores are located here. A visit to the Ginza is most pleasant on a weekend afternoon, when the central Chuo Dori is closed to traffic and become a large pedestrian zone.

From Ginza, we went to another up market Roppongi Shopping Mall located at Roppongi (六本木,), which is home to the rich and an active nightlife with restaurants and clubs catered to the English-speaking crowd. Many foreign embassies are located in here, and the night life is known to be popular with the locals and foreigners. While we were taking the train to Harajuku, Captain Fujisan pointed to a poster of a dog and told us the story of Hachiko.

Hachiko was a dog owned by Hidesaburo Ueno, a university professor in the 20s. Everyday Hichiko would see his master off and wait for his return at the Shibuya Station. This routine continued until one evening when Professor Ueno did not return by the usual train when he died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the university. His loyal friend continued to wait for him every day at Shibuya Station at the same time for the next nine years until its death. To commemorate the love and the loyalty that Hachiko had demonstrated, a statue was installed at Shibuya Station which had become a favorite meeting place for the locals. Hollywood had adopted the story line and released a movie “Hachi” in 2009, with Richard Gere taking the lead role of the professor.

Harajuku is an area around Tokyo's Harajuku Station, one station north of Shibuya on the Yamanote Line. It is the center of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles. Local landmarks include the headquarters of NHK, Meiji Shrine, and Yoyogi Park.

The focal point of Harajuku's teenage culture is Takeshita Street and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens. A visit on a Sunday allows one to experience the teenage culture at its most extreme, when many young people gather around Harajuku Station and dressed up in crazy costumes to freely express their individual unique identity.

We returned to Ueno in the evening to do the last round of shopping, and picked up some souvenirs and tit bits to wrap up the sightseeing tour in Tokyo.

Day 8 – Sayonara

Phew! The Tokyo Walkathon was finally over. We had been walking for no less than 15 hours every day for 3 days at full speed and visited no less than 15 places, as if to make up for what we missed at Fujisan. Though it was a bit of disappointment for not being able to ascend to the summit due to bad weather condition, the journey itself was nonetheless more fulfilling than the destination with great camaraderie of the Fuji Team. There were sweats (yes, everyone was drenched in sweat under Tokyo’s sweltering hot summer), pains, eat (too much ramen), drink, gossips and laughter……..
Unlike Xu Fu who failed in his attempt to search for immortality and never got back home fearing for his death, we had no one to fear for and here we were, heading back to Malaysia. Qin Shi Huang’s legacy lives on, and so is Fujisan. As the Japanese say, a wise man climbs Fujisan once, and a fool twice. Those who had completed 33 times must be of enlightened souls. Judging from the comments of the fellow trekkers, I think there aren’t many wise persons in the team. But for me, I shall keep my 9 kg backpack out of sight for the time being…….
Sayonara Fujisan.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we began

And to know the place for the first time

-By T S Eliot

Jayne Aw
August 2010

P/S - My thanks go to all the team members and those who have rendered the assistance in time of need. Last but not least, Captain Fujisan, domo arigato gozaimasuta..
A Journey to the East: Click here for Part 2 ... click here for Part 1..
Click here for all postings on Mount Fuji Trekking..
While this posting concludes the journey to the EAST by the 12 trekkers from Kuala Lumpur; currently, TV8 is showing the classic story: Pilgrimage to the West (Episode 22)..
Posted by KC

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