Journey to Mt Fuji

Back to blogging about Japan.

We were all signed up with Grey Line Tours for the Mt Fuji and Hakone day tour. So bright and early at about 7am we were at the lobby of Metropolitan Plaza Hotel waiting for the transport.

Koji looks a little glum here cause she was sleepy and hasn’t had breakfast. After having the rice balls we bought from Family Mart, she brightened up a bit.

Sushi, Clara and I all had our Ray-ban aviators sunglasses! What a coincidence!

Soon we were on our way, cruising the streets of Tokyo on the Grey Line bus.

Here’s Sushi and I sitting together on the bus. We both have a higher tolerance to cold.

While Koji and Clara sat on the other side. Koji is really scared of the cold so Sushi lent her the hat scarf and gloves… she looks really sweet in this get up right? I lent Clara my scarf and also my jacket to keep her warm.

We all had our breakfast on the road!

It is quite a long journey by road and the only entertainment was the stories told by the tour guide.  Koji and Clara slept for most part of the journey since we all had only about 2 hours of sleep the night before. I couldn’t really fall asleep so I ended up soaking in the scenery as well as the nuggets of information dished out by the tour operator.

One of the stories is about how Mount Fuji got its name. The legend goes that many many years ago, there was a bamboo cutter who found a strange glowing bamboo. He sliced it open to see  a little girl the size of his thumb in the middle of  the bamboo. He took the girl home and together with his wife they decided to name her Kaguya-hime and raise her up as their own. From that day on, the bamboo cutter found gold nuggets in each bamboo he cut and he became a really rich man.

The little girl Kaguya-hime grew up to be a woman of exceptional beauty and even though the bamboo cutter tried to hide her from suitors he couldn’t. One day, 5 princes came to ask for her hand and Kaguya-hime said that if anyone of them could complete the task she set for him, she’ll marry him. The 1st prince was asked to retrieve the stone begging bowl that Buddha used. The 2nd prince, to deliver to her the jeweled branch from Island Penglai. The 3rd, to retrieve the  robe of the fire-rat and the last one to find the swallow’s seashell treasure. The first 4 princes all failed in their mission and tried to use fakes to cheat the Kaguya-hime. Of course she saw through them. The 5th price died in his quest so basically no one dared to take up her quests anymore.

After hearing her reputation, the Emperor of Japan, Midako decided to come visit. He fell in love with her completely and while she too liked the Emperor she rejected his marriage proposal. She told him that she is not from this world and cannot be with him. Later that year, Kaguya-hime would cry whenever she saw the full moon. Her parents were worried about her but she would not tell them anything. Eventually she broke down and told them that she was not from Earth and would have to return to her people on the moon soon. The Emperor sent many guard to protect her and to prevent the moon people from taking her back. But these guards were useless in the presence of the moon people for their light was too bright to open their eyes. Kaguya-hime felt that as much as she loved earth and its people, it’s only right for her to return to her own kind. She wrote goodbye notes to her parents and gave them her robe. Then she wrote a letter to the Emperor and sealed with it, a small portion of the elixir of life. This she passed to the guard.  When the moon people placed the feathered robe on her, she could no longer remember earth or any of her past here. She was taken back to the moon while her parents wailed in tears.

When the Emperor received the letter from the guard, he was overcome with sadness. He asked his guards to bring his letter to her to the highest mountain, closest to the heavens,  hoping that she might receive it. And as for the elixir of life, he wanted them to burn it there for he has no wish to live forever without her by his side. The world “immortality ” or fushi/fuji became the name of the mountain.  Written in Kanji, 富士山 Fuji Mountain is literally translated as mountain of immortality filled with warriors. The burning of the elixir cause smoke and heat to be active till today. Or so the legend says.

With the base of Mt Fuji just around the corner, we made our first pit stop.

Since this was the area that produces good green tea, the girls decided to have some green tea ice-cream.

This was the place I succumbed to buying an absolutely unnecessary but completely adorable little puppy dog cuddly. I think that being too long away from Louis and Emmie might have something to do with it.

Clara clearly admitted that she relates to the turtle in more ways than one. But what a cute fat turtle!

More on Mt Fuji in the next post.


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