Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stairway to Heaven

The times when Japan seems the most unusual are generally those times when you are doing something which would otherwise be completely ordinary. Last weekend I went hiking up what the Japanese refer to as a mountain, that is a reasonable high hill with some trees on it and a few souvenir shops at the top.

Now for reasons I don't want to get into the day I went was the middle day of a long weekend, and so was the sort of day where a fair portion of Tokyo's corporate drones decided to take there families to see some 'Nature'. Naturally it wasn't the untamed remote dirty kind of nature you might find in other countries, it was nature that had its own train station, plenty of stairs, handrails and vending machines in case they got thirsty.

I think the only way I can describe climbing the mountain is as "standing in line for 3 hours on a slope". I wish that was an exaggeration, but for your consideration I submit the attached photo as evidence. It shows the suitably tamed nature, the aforementioned slope and the queue of people waiting there turn to get to the top of it.

The two things I found surprising about the whole experience was that this particular hill/mountain was surrounded by other hills/mountains that simply by virtue of not having their own train stations had no one wanting to climb them. And secondly I was also surprised by just how well prepared the Japanese people were for their wait in line. Not only the expensive Jackets, hiking boots, day packs, walking poles that would would normally convince me that these people were going on a multi day cross country trek, but also the occasional person carrying a compass just in case.

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