Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tuesday 28th August, 2012
We ate breakfast at the café next door which was good and very convenitent. Then we headed out for Arashiyama and the Hozugawa River trip. On the way to the station we stopped in at the crane shop again. Apparently the gentleman there doesn’t sell his work (he sells his book and gives lessons) but he made a special exception, framing up and selling one of his pieces for me. I felt very honoured and had my picture taken with him especially. I took the cranes back to K’s House then we continued on our way, I stopped and bought a long sleeved shirt on the way to protect my arms and neck a little more (but it’s very hot to wear as it has a lot of polyester in it).
We decided to take the Romance train from Saga to Arashiyama but we only just made it as I had to fill in forms for some reason before they would give me the tickets. GREAT IDEA!!! The train ride was spectacular – great river views and we got to see the boats heading down the river. The bus from the station to the boats was hot and crowded but we still think it was worth it to see the river views.
The boat crews were no spring chickens, I reckon the youngest would have been mid to late 40’s and the rest in their late 50’s to 60’s but they were very. VERY fit. They kept up a banter and sort of running comedy routine, unfortunately I couldn’t understand enough to get the gist of it.
There were great views, fun rapids and a lot of wildlife to enjoy. I saw lots of birds, turtles (I think I may have been the only one to spot those) and a red deer drinking from the river. There were a heap of people rafting (wish we’d have known that – next time I’m there in summer perhaps) and others picnicking and swimming in the river. Someone had stopped at a rocky section in the middle of the river and had built a heap of rock cairns or stacks which looked really cool.
We had our photo taken by a photographer on the bank and could buy it if we wished (we wished but it was a little difficult to organise – we needed a Japanese address to have it sent to – luckily I remembered I had Naoko’s Dad’s business card in my bag so the boatman said he would ring and organise it with Michio).
Just before the end of the cruise we pulled up next to a boat selling food and drinks. I bought BBQ squid cooked fresh in front of us, jellies dusted in soy flour and drinks. Fran was amazed at how efficiently I managed to sort out and organise the purchases and how quickly the squid was cooked and served up.
To maximise the coverage of the local area (with weary bodies, blisters etc in mind) we decided to hire a rickshaw. Our rickshaw man spoke good English and had a great sense of humour so it was a great half hour tour to top off the day’s sightseeing in the Arashiyama area. He told us lots about the local area and we also asked a lot of questions about his job.  He said he had to train for two months before he was able to take passengers. There is a certain amount of skill in pulling and steering a rickshaw and you have to be fit and strong. He said his company was one of the few companies that employed a girl on the rickshaws (He said she had great heart and spirit - he also said she was very cute!).  His company had been going for 20 years (and 20 is a significant ‘birthday’ in Japan) so he had special stickers to give us and discounts on future rickshaw rides.  He was impressed that we had climbed Mt Fuji, even more impressed that we made it to the summit (so many people don’t). He said his girlfriend was going to climb it in the next week or so with friends but he wasn’t sure she’d make it.
We went to Nijo Jo but the last intake is 4pm and we were too late for that so we looked around the outside and then headed back to the station. We bought boxes to post our climbing stuff home but were disappointed to find that the ¥100 shop in the Tower was closed.  We ended up buying a thank you box of jellies for Miki (for all her help with the rail pass), some other mocha for the other staff who were also great and lots of t-shirts to send home with the climbing gear for presents. We were looking for calendars for Jack but couldn’t find any so had dinner at a French restaurant in Isetan before heading back to K’s House to pack boxes and arrange for them to be picked up. Too tired to do anything else we crashed again and slept really soundly.

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