Last day on Cát Bà, till next time Vietnam!

We had some time before our water taxi back to the main island, so we took a hike to a hidden cove behind the island some. A friendly local worker guided us to the trailhead and we walked through a lovely forest to get to it.

The flag marked the way.

There was a structure on the beach, which could have been some fisherman’s dwelling.

Mitsy points to an unoccupied cove, “We could live on that spot there” she says.

It’s not easy to see, but the hillside in the photo above was thick with dragonfly swarms.

Back in the area of the hotel, we wait at the dock and wave good bye to Cat Ong!

The light fishing boat was on when we passed by, it’s very bright even during the day.

We take a bus back to Hanoi, and wander around the night markets looking for gifts for our loved ones. The streets were busy with dancing, shopping, eating and just hanging out. It was awesome to see such a vibrant scene.

Back in Tokyo now, we take some time for some R&R, eating good food, hitting up our favorite food marts (7Eleven is bomb in Japan) and then checked out Disney Sea!

Sapporo & Rusutsu, Hokkaido, Japan

A pre-xmas small trip to Japan to ski and eat. It was cold and still early in the winter season.

Nothing to me says I’m in Japan like having local beer & an endless spread of sushi.

Taking to the streets to look at the lights and see the cute pop-up Christmas village selling trinkets.

We took the bus to the ski resort Rusutsu the following day, it wasn’t the fluffiest snow but it was still lovely.

Mitsy coming in hot!

Super foggy at the top of the mountain.

Last run of the day, ending on a lovely sunset. Happiness!

Back in Sapporo, I took a walk around town to look about.

The sun set as I took in the sights outside our hotel, we took a red eye back home that night.

Home now, for the holidays :)

Finding a knife in Kappabashi Dōgu-gai (kitchenware street)

I’ve been scoping out a better knife for filleting fish for a while now. It’s not like the one I already have to accomplish the job is bad, it’s just that it seems like it’d be awesome to buy something made in the epicenter of sharp steel objects. When warfare no longer necessitated the construction of swords, many blacksmiths found alternate use for their high levels of skill. Knives for cooking are so specialized that Mitsy told me special attention is given to the most minute details of the chef, including height.

Mitsy and I cruising to Tokyo via a bus.

People were just heading to work at this point.

Politely standing to the left to allow for the walkers to head up the right side.

Unsure of where the specific street began, we noticed a gigantic chef statue. This must be the place!

It was fun wandering this street, wish I coulda spent an entire day here. After finding a knife to improve my fish filleting, we stopped by a soba shop. Although simple, this was immensely pleasing to eat.

We got coffee too, luckily there was a shop nearby. I tried red bean (azuki) coffee. Interesting.

Walking down to the subway to our flight home.

Yoshida trail to the top of Mt. Fuji, Japan

Mitsy scopes out the map of the adventure today, hiking to the top of the iconic Mt. Fuji. We were unfamiliar with the endeavor, so we chose a popular route which we knew would be crowded as hell. The system is very well set up for tourists trying to accomplish this, and we had no problems figuring it out. Japan did a great job setting up tourists for success, and what used to be a pretty gnarly trek ended up being safe and very low stress.

Can’t beat starting the day with fresh baked bread and some hard boiled eggs waiting for us. With a long and tiring hike looming, we didn’t want to fill up with anything heavy.

Looking at Fuji, luck was providing us with a clear day!

The start of the hike was a flat dirt road, eventually it branched off upward to the top. Panoramas were spectacular.

Time to start heading up!

There were many ‘stations’ on the way up, and we were told water was a premium price on the mountain. To be honest, this level of convenience blew me away. It was hilarious and awesome at the same time. I’m truly stoked others who are taking on such a seemingly severe challenge can do so with safety, food and water just a little walk away.

The landscape becomes barren as we reach the upper zone. Still breathing just fine!

As one can plainly see, there were a few others working their way up. The final leg was a slow slog, not because it was so hard per se, but because we had to wait in an almost single file line for the slowest people to make their way up. It was all good though, we weren’t in a rush.

Mitsy gets her summit stamps on her passport, I did the same.

A village all the way on the crater rim of Mount Fuji.

Various shrines peppered the upper areas, and some interesting bugs too.

If you look closely enough in the top photos, you can still see icicles hanging in the shadows. Wasn’t cold though, we were still comfortable in our shirts.

A trail wrapped around the crater at the very top, I pushed for us to give it a go so we could make it to the OFFICIAL top, which was actually at the other side of the upper crater. Here is our summit shot, with a miniature can of Asahi beer to celebrate.

Making our way to Mt. Fuji, Japan

We had intended on visiting Hokkaido (Japan’s northern island) for this trip, but were unable to get on the flight. Flying standby has it’s benefits but you have to be flexible. If you don’t get the flight you want, sometimes you have to wait days to try again, or just go somewhere else. We ended up going to the Tokyo area instead, and still had an awesome adventure.

Here we are working our way through the Japanese overland rail system. It might have been a cost saver to get a railpass, it was still much more carefree than what renting a car may have been like, and a hell of a lot safer! One benefit, dreamily staring at the wondrous world outside, especially as we got closer to Fuji. These small agricultural towns in the lush mountain valleys were so wonderful.

When we did arrive to our destination village of Fujiyoshida in the shadows of Mt. Fuji itself, we were pleased to find our hostel, Hostel Fujisan You, to be so pleasant.

We spent some time to walk throughout the town, and even up to a Shinto temple at the very top of the hill worshiping the gods of the mountain Fuji itself. This temple is called the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Jinja.

We weren’t sure if this was water for drinking or bathing, so Mitsy didn’t let me take a sip. Probably for the best.

Walking through these quaint neighborhoods to our hostel was really relaxing. It’s such a quiet town.