Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Making the most of the hiking season in Japan can be very tiring! Today was a pretty good day for hiking although a little cloudy and hazy, but still good enough to get a nice view!

Today I tackled the same course where I saw the bear but I pushed on a little farther this time and made the Summit of Mt Jimba. It is 857m high, or so the signs said. On the way up I met an elderly Japanese couple, the woman was an English teacher to small children. I said konnichiwa to them and she immediately commented that I ‘ speak very good Japanese’! Not that I am complaining I’ll take any compliments when I can get them. They were seasoned campaigners and were doing a pretty sizeable walk themselves. We chatted about New Zealand and she said that she and her husband hadn’t been to New Zealand but had been to 20 other countries, obviously the NZ tourism board is doing something wrong! I told her my bear story, she misunderstood and told me not to worry because there were no bears in this area!! I related my story and for about 5 minutes any passers-by were retold my story in Japanese. I assume that it was my story being retold rather than ‘this guy is nuts!!’ She then told me I need to put a bell on my pack…umm well…anyway

Before we parted and I went to the summit and them to Mt Takao, she commented that my English was very good. The previous compliment was eroded further. And she wouldn’t let me leave without taking some mandarins. This type of hospitality is of the type that I have read about. Was very nice of them and the citrus was perfect while I studied the map at the summit.

It was about 3 hours to the summit. Once at the top I was a bit confused as I had a map in English but the signage at the top was in Japanese kanji. Ultimately I had to buck my genes and ask the friendliest person I could see for directions. My guess was right and he was very helpful. It’s actually him standing next to the statue which looks like a cross between a horse and some kind of phallic symbol.

The other strange thing I found at the summit was a plethora of shops and picnic tables. I could buy a cup of noodles for about 400 yen. Even pick up a bear bell for 350 yen!!

Some of the scenery on the way back to the station was quite nice as the station is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get near Tokyo. The ‘robot’ at the entrance to the station was out of character with the sleepy frontier nature of the town. I would liken it to Taihape (the town not the robot).

I think Etsuko and I are going hiking tomorrow so hopefully some more boring scenery pics for you then!! For more info about Jimba look at this.


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