Wow, this was a while ago. I keep meaning to post about it but I keep getting delayed by stuff, the most recent of which happened to be writing about this very trip, in Japanese, for school.
Last weekend (not yesterday), I went to the North Japanese Alps, or Tateyama as they're really called, with the friend I met in Kyoto, Masa.
As I only had the weekend off school, I took the 6.5 hour nightbus from Shinjuku Station to Toyama at 11.40pm on Friday night. I actually nearly missed the bus, thanks to Shinjuku Bus Terminal being a little more big and confusing than I had realised.
I met with Masa, who had traveled from Kyoto the night before, the next morning at Toyama Station. He'd brought the food, tent, sleeping bags, coats, everything we'd need that I couldn't have brought from England even if I'd known I'd be going camping/hiking during my time here. Together we took another bus to Tateyama.
I was surprised by the number of tourists there, but maybe even more surprised that they were all Japanese. You'd think that'd be kind of obvious it being the Japanese
Alps and all, but experience from Kyoto and even Tokyo now we're in the Summer has shown how close Gaijin can come to outnumbering Japanese people in some places. In fact, in the two days that we were there, we saw one couple that may have been Chinese, and apart from them it seemed like I was the only foreigner there.
Aanyway, when we arrived at Tateyama we left most of our stuff lying somewhere, once again testing the honesty of Japanese people, as if it needed testing anyway, and went off into the mountains.
When I told my classmates I was going to the mountains the general reaction I got wasuŽ€‚É‚½‚¢‚Å‚·‚©Hv("do you want to die?"). Their reason for asking was the weather forecast: over 30C in Tokyo. What they didn't realise, and neither did I, was how much the altitude would affect that temperature. When we got off the coach it was a perfect temperature, with the sun shining through the clouds and a light breeze. There was even still a lot of snow on the mountains, which was a worrying sight for me with my no-grip trainers which can even cause me to slip on the streets in Tokyo if it's been raining.
The first day we just went for a warm-up walk for a few hours, up the side of the mountain a little. A little way up we saw a Thunderbird, which is apparently very fortunate, as they're famous in the area but rarely seen.
Unfortunately for this first day it was so cloudy that the thunderbird was about all we could see; looking left, right of behind we could basically just see a thick fog.
When we realised this wasn't going to clear up we headed back down. After our practice hike we took a look at the source of the strange smell we'd noticed since we arrived.
As we experienced on our second day, sometimes it goes kind of crazy and there's so much poisonous gas that it's unsafe to walk through the area. Most of the time it just smells bad and causes a slightly worrying burning feeling in your throat.
We slept early, at 9pm, and got up at 4am the next morning to beat the forecast rain at 3pm. Kind of sucks to be hiking a big mountain in the middle of a big thunderstorm. We went all the way up to the highest point in the mountains, at over 3200m,
and walked along the main section of the range before descending in 40 minutes through the altitude we'd gained in the past 6-7 hours or so. That was a little scary, as was crossing the snowy parts - everywhere that gets little or no sunlight thanks to being in the shadow of the mountain was covered in slippery snow, sometimes with a steep, long, snowy way down if someone were to slip.
Scaryness aside, the weather was perfect the second day, and the views, as you can kind of see from the photos, were amazing. The climbing itself was also a great experience, my first real encounter with mountain climbing.
Luckily we got back to the campsite a long time before the forecast rain, because the rain also came two hours early. We decided to run for it, packing away the tent and carrying our bags over a small mountain in the heavy thunderstorm to avoid the afore-mentioned poisonous gas which was by this point erupting thick and fast.
We got back to Toyama with a few hours to spare before my bus back to Tokyo - Masa was returning the next morning and had to find somewhere other than in the street outside the station where he could sleep the night. Having not had a shower since climbing mountains for two days, we went to a public bath and then went to a nice izakaya for a few hours.
When it came time to catch my bus we weren't 100% sure from where I was supposed to be catching it. After getting increasingly worried about the bus not being in sight in any of the places we were checking, we noticed it was stopped in the dark just a few meters from our main waiting place. Yeah, at this point even I find it difficult to believe that I can go for a weekend trip and almost miss my bus there and
my bus back.
Overall it was an amazing trip. Big Thanks to Masa for suggesting it and arranging it - maybe one day we can even go again :-)
My internet connection is being not so fun, so I will get the video up as soon as possible.
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