March 22, 2023
Japan three-dayer: Tokyo – lots of work, then Kamakura.
The flight from Seoul to Tokyo takes just two hours. Above Korea it was cloudy, so there wasn’t much worth looking at – or taking photos of – out the windows. Just as well really, since it meant I could concentrate on some admin catch-up (mostly checking emails) – the kind of thing that always gets neglected on a business trip with a busy schedule. On the plane I was undisturbed for most of the way (save for the flight attendant, who kept asking if I’d like another drink:). Nearing the end of the flight, I took my first look out the window to find that the cloud had cleared and Japan was clearly in view down below ->
Snowy mountain peaks and the western seaboard.
Curiously, the Japanese mostly live on the flat land in the valleys – rarely having gone in for settling in the mountainous areas like they do, say, in Switzerland. I wonder why? It must be some time-honored cultural tradition that’s specific to Japan. Anyone know anything about it? In the comments please!
Right on cue – barren, unpeopled mountains + built-up, densely-peopled valleys! ->
And it wasn’t just a light coating of snow up in the mountains. I wondered – do the Japanese not go in for skiing in the mountains just like they don’t go in for building homes there? Turns out – no ).
Ah – this is more for me: a volcano! ->
If you look closely, you can see the old caldera, a new cone, and where the lava flowed during an eruption:
Approaching Tokyo, out the window comes in to view the one and only Mount Fuji. Almost as beautiful as s++ome of the perfect-cone volcanoes of Kamchatka!
Upon seeing it I was reminded of my two climbs up it. The first was way back in 2009. I’ve hardly any photos of that trip (actually just three). Ah – no; actually, I’ve dug up a video!
The second time was in May 2014, about which I wrote a lengthy blogpost. There’s another video – just a short one – at the end of the post too that’s worth checking out (which is here on YouTube too).
And a third time? Well, I sure do hope there is one, if only to… cancel out the logic-defying back-to-front and upside-down double-bind described in this here instance of traditional Japanese folk wisdom:
“You’d be a fool not to climb Mount Fuji once; doubly so to climb it a second time!”
Meanwhile, we begin our descent to Narita International Airport…
Suddenly, unexpectedly – industrial scenes. I wonder – is that Fukushima? No – turns out Fukushima is some 60km to the north:
// Btw: Fukushima means “Happy Island”. Alas, place names don’t always correspond to their fate…
UPD: According to Fukushima prefecture’s website, in Japanese characters, each character means 福”luck” and 島”island”, but officially the name really means the seasonal wind that blew against the mountains in Fukushima.
Upon closer inspection, some of the industrialization down there turns out to be somewhat beautiful in a peculiar way – all neat and rectilinear! ->
After landing in the capital – time-warp (backward): we were all made to wear face masks, show our vaccination record card, register with a QR code, and our faces were checked with thermal cameras a full three times between landing and getting to our first destination. Indeed, covid restrictions and precautions are still very much a thing in Japan.
We had two days of business scheduled in Japan – both as per the template: busy, necessary, pleasant, fun. Dinner with our local team, meetings with partners, customers and industry regulators, and so on. We had a third day too – reserved strictly for micro-tourism; specifically – checking out Kamakura, here…
Founded some 850 years ago Kamakura is one of the oldest cities in Japan, and is a popular domestic tourism destination. Indeed Kamakura does have a long history: the community started developing around 1185. But there are other cities in Japan which are much older, built around 6th or 7th century.
For now, I’ve just got photos for you. I’m exhausted as I write this, with no energy or brainpower left to put fingertips to keyboard and type something coherent (and we’re up early tomorrow morning and back to the airport, so I must get an early night). Words will come later; for now – snaps (no emotion)…
The rest of the photos from Japan are here.