Kawaguchiko: Joie de Vivre
November 17, 2019
Last night, Kim decided to join me for hiking in Kawaguchiko, a small town close to Mount Fuji. We bought the bus ticket via japanbusonline site. Our departure time is at 2 o’clock, so we spend the morning exploring the Ameyoko market at Ueno and eat some tasty panda bread filled with various flavors. Around 12 we pick up our bag from the hostel and take a JR toward Nihombashi station then take a walk for a few hundred meters toward the Tekko building. Since there is no chair in front of the waiting place, we just sit down on the floor until a bus clerk gently warns us not to sit on the floor.
As the bus leaves Tokyo, the view quickly changes into a verdant and rural settlement. It will take two hours to reach Kawaguchiko. I set my earphones and listen to some recommended songs on Spotify. I don’t know why, but lately, my music taste becomes more and more specific into a few genres.
When was that, the very first time I saw the picture of Mount Fuji? I can’t fully recall. Perhaps, through the bloc section on Monopoly board or calendar picture above my grandma’s sewing machine. I’m petrified for a moment, my eyes watered a bit — the magnifique summit covered by snow — I can’t believe for what I’ve seen.
From Kawaguchi bus station we walk to the hostel while admiring the mountain in front of us. It turns out that we come to the wrong one, not completely wrong because they have another branch with the same name but with additional ‘backpacker’ suffix. The receptionist calls the other hostel operator and asks us to wait. Someone from the other K’s House Mt Fuji-Backpacker come to pick us. The second hostel location is not too far from the first, about 1.5 km, close to Lake Kawaguchi.
Google maps are my savior, yet sometimes it works like a supreme authoritarian dictator. It pleases us, promises us with the shortest path but we are the ones who bear the tragedy.
Towards dusk, we take a walk near Lake Kawaguchi, we cross the Ohashi bridge which split the lake’s landscape into two-part. I take some pictures of Mt Fuji, of the lake, of the standing fisherman, of the picture of pictures, then sit for a moment below the bridge while enjoying the view. I shift my eyes from the lake to the bridge to the mountain to the birds. We talk about Japan’s history. We talk about ourselves. Kim tells her experience involved in a crash course of Buddhism which leads to her vegetarianism. I tell her the opposite story of monks who tell that Buddha is not a vegetarian but hates to see an animal being killed in front of him.
“What do you think happened to our consciousness after we die?” she asks.
“I don’t know… but do you have any memory before you’re born? I think death is just like that, a nothingness. That’s the irony. The religious apologist might say our memory has been erased right before we’re born. Apparently that idea is partly inspired or emulated from the Greek mythology who believe that after someone dies and arrives in Hades (underworld) — the soul had to drink water from the Lethe known as Ameles Potamos (river of unmindfulness) whose water will make them forget of their previous life and ready to be born again.”
“You have made your way from worm to man,” said Nietzsche. Life is a universal dining theater (sebuah teater makan memakan universal). The soil is eaten by worm, the worm is eaten by chicken, the chicken is eaten by human, the human is eaten by soil, and the soil is eaten by worm, and so on. After we die, we become a source of energy or food for other creatures, a fertilizer for the soil; we become a part of their physical form without our previous consciousness; we are no longer we are. Just like the idea of reincarnation in Buddhism without the fictional stories.
Andre Malraux in his novel Man’s Fate, once said: “The great mystery is not that we have been thrown down here at random among the profusion of the matter or the galaxy of stars; it is that from our prison we can project and draw, from our own selves, images sufficiently powerful to deny our own nothingness.”
The physical nature of soul or consciousness lies in complex chemical reactions that evolving through times, mingling each other to preserve the entropy, forged by nature to form its cognition and sentient to recognize the physical world. Catalysts such as drug/food (physical compound), voice/music (vibration), phenomena/movie (lightwave), stimulate the chemical fluid friction which is perceived by the receptor which then visualizes the surrounding
We go to a supermarket and buy some groceries, Kim plans to cook for dinner, we halve the expense. While preparing the spaghetti I help her slice the vegetables in the kitchen. A few moments later there is an old woman in a wheelchair asks me to unwrap her biscuit. She tells me that she is from Paris, she tell me that she has an illness and her doctor advised her to stay at places with pristine air from time to time, so here she is, has been staying for a month in Kawaguchiko.
Cycling – another part of lake Kawaguchi – The bigger one – across the bridge – the tunnel – the school – the dock – a beautiful decorated manhole cover. there is a farmer watering the field – a woman taking pictures – a family picnic. Cycling – and stop in front of a coffee car – there is an archaic temple in front of me – across a cemetery – Arakura Shrine – Chureto Pagoda
I read an article entitled “Haruki Murakami’s passion for Jazz” and discover a playlist on Spotify full of jazz songs based on “Murakami San No Tokoro”. The article says that Murakami is a jazz aficionado, he has about 10,000 jazz vinyl record. That’s obvious since he often puts something about jazz into his stories and he also runs a jazz bar — Peter Cat 1 & 2. “I had my first encounter with jazz in 1964 when I was 15,” He said. I haven’t read all of his books, the article said that in his memoir of “What I Talk About When I Talk Running” Murakami tells the story of his other passion in running and how it becomes an inseparable part of his way of becoming a writer.
I spend the rest of the day hiking on Mt. Mitsutoge by myself. Kim has decided to stay for her legs recovery. I bring a day lite backpack filled with a pack of milk, bread, torch, map, wind wall jacket, water, chocolate, and a set of spare clothes. Since the checkout time is at 10 AM, I finished my packing at once and put my backpack in the storage room near the receptionist. The sky is clear and the sun is bright, in a junction the crowd of students on the bicycle waiting for the traffic patiently even though there are no vehicles around. I cross the Ohashi bridge for the third time and stop for a moment to watch a fisherman on a boat. Accidentally, I take the longer route to reach the mountain and lost once when I’m trying to take a shortcut then decided back to the last intersection. Before reaching the summit, I haven’t seen anybody along the way which makes me worried if I’ve taken the wrong route, moreover there is a warning notice board of wildlife area. On top, the weather drastically turns cold and misty. Half of Mount Fuji is closed by the cloud which a bit sad. There are two lodgings near around. Some juveniles gather around their tent while cooking food. In a distance, there are some people doing rock climbing. I stay for a while, eat my lunch before heading back down. Along the way, I have noticed some biodiversity differences I haven’t seen in most of Indonesia mountains such as a row of high red tress, pine trees, and a lot of euphony birds. After about 25 km of strenuous walking, I arrive at the hostel around 4.30 PM. Kim is still there and about to leave the hostel. We walk together to Kawaguchiko bus station and say goodbye for the brief moment of life intersection. She is heading back to Tokyo since she started her journey from Osaka in the south and vice versa I’m heading to the opposite direction.
The list of things that surprised me throughout my climbing experiences keep growing. The last time I climbed a mountain in Indonesia I’ve witnessed a traditional meatball peddler on the peak. Today, I’ve witnessed a vending machine right after I reached the top.
Hotel: K’s House - Backpackers Hostel
Hotel Environment: Modern-traditional Japanese style
Treatment: Self-service tea or coffee for free anytime
Others: Homey, relaxing, and hospitable; spacious kitchen and lounge, bicycle for rent, computers, garden, funny receptionist, Lake Kawaguchi about 5 min walk Impression: Better than any stars hotel I’ve ever stayed in