Thursday 9th & Friday 10th May 2013
The dawn breaks as we fly up Japan's east coast and ponder the might of nature that three years ago brought the tsunami and devastation to Fukushima's coast to the north. The plane swings left and we land at Haneda airport. Finger-printing done, we clear the airport and find ourselves in the fashionable suburb of Ginza where we check in at the Imperial Hotel. There is much bowing and nodding from all the Japanese that we pass which makes us feel like royalty, but we quickly realise that this is the normal level of courteousness wherever you go. We catch up on lost sleep before a visit to the Asakusa Temple, passing street market stalls, shops full of Japanese fans, kimono clad ladies, immaculately attired children in school uniform, the ancient pagoda surrounded by tranquil Japanese gardens, and the dragon fountain. Next morning we embark on the tour bus but we wait as guide Kako discovers that our numbers are short. Finally, to a round of applause, Lord Simon Thomson arrives while we speculate as to whether his tardiness may have beenthe result of sitting upon the throne and savouring the electrically warmed seat.
The Sacred mountain Mt. Fuji lies ahead, we arrive at its 5th station where an icy wind greets us, and lunch in a roadside tavern as we come back down. Then a pleasant boat trip across Lake Ashi before our coach takes us to Odawara station from where the ride back to Tokyo central is a mere 25 minutes by bullet train. The sleek white high-speed train looks deceptive as it snakes it's way across the countryside but the sheer immense power, when you see it rip through a railway station, is something to behold.