Friday, 31 December 2010

Day 9: At Splendid Heights

This entry is pretty short, because there's only so much one can say about climbing a mountain beyond admiring how nice the scenery was. As with the Osaka Aquarium entry, I'll put in a few more photos than usual to pad it out a bit.

I woke unaided at my usual time of 8am on the morning we were to spend up on Mount Takao, and waited around for my friends, who eventually woke at 10am. After a brief schedule re-arrangement to allow us to spend another day in Akihabara later on in the week, we headed off to Ginza on the Hibiya line.

Once there, we found the Sony building fairly easily, and wandered around inside. There was a wealth of high-tech gadgets, including a number of stereoscopic 3D displays, a camera that compensated for being shaken and a head tracking system. Prices went up to around ¥400,000, although nothing topped Osaka’s inkstone. There was more interactivity than we had expected, and most of the electronics could be tried out.
At ten million yen per square metre of floorspace in Ginza,
it pays not to cut costs on making your shop front
as impressive as possible.
You could buy this television for 399,000 and its speaker
set for 99,000. Or you could get an inkstone for the same price.
We were in there for around an hour and a half, although some of that was spent looking for each other, after we had separated to explore in pairs and then alone. We would have liked to spend more time in Ginza, but it was around 12:00 by the time we left the Sony building, and I was worried about not leaving enough time for Mount Takao, so we headed back to the station, and set off on the long train journey to Takao.

After about an hour and twenty minutes of sitting on and changing trains, we arrived at the base of Mount Takao. There was an option to take a cable car up to the half way point, and after some deliberation, and some persuasion from the team of those eager to climb the mountain unaided (Mark and I) we headed up the steep slope.
A statue on the rather scenic walk up Mount Takao.
The sights from a high place are best experienced after the climb up there, or so I have always believed. Indeed, after a few rest stops and much panting, we arrived at the visitors’ centre half way up Mount Takao, and were rewarded a fantastic view over Tokyo, which was all the more satisfying for having worked to earn it. We stayed there for ten minutes and caught our breath, and then headed on upwards.
The view from the rest area.
If I were an evil spirit, I'm sure I'd be warded off
pretty effectively.
The rest of the climb was more relaxed, and passed through a couple of Japanese religious structures reminiscent of those on the way up to the Inari shrine. The view from the top of Mount Takao itself was more scenic than that from the visitors’ centre, looking out over mountains and forests rather than over Tokyo. After spending a short time at the rest area at the top, we headed back downwards.

A long discussion about Final Fantasy with Mark made the journey downhill go by quickly, and we didn’t have to stop for rest breaks. Darkness had fallen by the time we reached the visitors’ centre, and Tokyo was spread out beneath us as a great carpet of lights. We stopped to admire it briefly before heading on down the steep paths to the bottom.
The view from the top of Mount Takao.

The path back down in the dark.
The journey back felt much more relaxed than the journey there. The train from Takao to Tokyo was fairly empty, so we could easily get seats together, but none of us spoke very much, all content just to relax in our exhausted states. I took advantage of the fact that the journey was almost exactly as long as Blind Guardian’s excellent At the Edge of Time album, and listened to it from start to finish as the starlit countryside rushed past us.

It was nearing 21:00 by the time we arrived back at Minowa station, and rather than make another journey out to find somewhere to eat, we gave in to Henry’s request to eat at the Chinese restaurant near our hostel. It wasn’t as refined as the food at the restaurant on Pontocho nor did it have the authentic feel of the udon restaurant on the way to the Inari shrine, but it was filling and tasted good, so we were more than happy. Somewhere near the beginning of the meal, Mark and I engaged in a discussion of When the Seagulls Cry, an incredibly tough murder mystery visual novel (and, as far as I’m concerned, the best murder mystery ever written – not that I’ve read very many). It improves upon the murder mystery genre with a number of systems that, as far as I know, are unique to it. The most prominent of these is ‘red text’: whenever a sentence spoken by a character is highlighted in red, that statement is definitely true (for example, ‘Jessica was outside the mansion at the time of the murder’), which will often be used in incredibly devious ways. Our discussion lasted almost three hours, and we came up one or two plausible theories and a great many implausible ones. This lasted us all the way through supper, back to the hostel and by 0:00, having just realised that one of the crucial pieces of information we had been basing most of our theories on probably wasn’t true after all, we gave up and settled down to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog, I liked that you shared about your journey. Hope you are enjoying a lot your journey. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures of your trip with us.

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