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Mt. Fuji! (is covered in clouds)

Its the rainy season in Japan

This morning we all got up later than hopped and Mt. Fuji was already covered with clouds. So Mochan! decided that we would go to a spot hear his house where you could see Mt. Fuji, and we would try to look at it, but rather than doing the Mt. Fuji trip now and visiting the Sake factory, we would do it tomorrow, and today we would go to the Onsen (Japanese natural hot spring bath... Onsen is so much easier to say), and have a Japanese Tea Ceremony.



The shopping mall with the view of Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka:


Mt. Fuji is over there somewhere by the clouds.


The tsunami guy is actually running away from the danger... oh hawaiians, you are so hard core!

These guys are going fishing for shell animals to eat:


Mt. Sushi Fuji! With all the presidents of the different countries (also made out of sushi):


The couple from Norway, Jørn and Ida:


Fish Market with Eelke from Holland center stage:


Into the mountains!


Rie from Japan passed out:


On the bus Joe and I got into a discussion withe Eelke about spirituality and science and philosophy. The first thing I thought of too when Eelke started mentioning how this isn't our first time in this world, "This is so much bull shit!" But even then, for whatever reason, I heard that voice in my head, and it was sarcastic, but not towards Eelke, but towards myself. This got me thinking, and I will think on this very though for the rest of the week. Why was the bull Eelke was dishing out sounding like sense? Maybe it was the mention of science that got me first. "Science shouldn't disprove religion, it should back it up. I don't think that people who try to separate the two have it right. I think the only way to find true spirituality is to find it through understanding physics and nature and the world around you." And then to top it off, "Don't trust anything because someone told you it was true. I always have to find things out for myself. I don't believe in blind faith." I liked her. She was completely not my type, but I found I immediately liked, and maybe even loved her. Sure she dressed in stiletto sneakers and reminded me of the poem Buddhist Barbie, but I was beyond seeing her for the stereotypical personality people who look like her often fall into, and I saw her for who she was. How many people can you say that about, that you move beyond first impressions and looks when only knowing someone for a few minutes? That, in my opinion, is something powerful.

Buddhist Barbie
by Denise Duhamel

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches "All is emptiness"
and "There is no self."
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.

First stop:

Well, first stop we picked up a half Japanese half American Elaina. She is super cool, sings opera, and can speak Japanese fluently even though she moved from Japan when she was 2 years old, and has never studied the language (she is one of those people who I love to be jealous of. Way to be! I'm glad we are friends!) Then we went to a small village that was once on the rout to Tokyo that high government officials would have to travel, so this town became famous for its quaint Japanese style hotels called Ryokan.


This is a common statue in Japan, the one with the babies all around the Buddha. This is the Buddha for healthy children. You pray to it when you or someone you love is pregnant or has a small child so they will be healthy. Also, all the Buddhas in Japan generally have clothes because one winter a monk thought that the statues outside covered in snow looked cold, so he started to clothe them, and its propagated from there.


Next we drove to the beautiful little village where we had a professional Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Singing on the bus:





And they gave us little mochi sweets to eat since the tea was thick and bitter:


Mochan! explained that this room was called the rising moon, so thats why the rice paper walls have the circles on them that appear to rise into the ceiling. And he also taught us how to drink the tea, holding the cup in one hand, and then lifting it from the bottom with the other. Then allowing it to rest in one hand, turning the cup 90 degrees in one direction, sipping the tea, then turning the cup back. This is to change where the decorations on the cup are when you drink, but most of our cups didn't have decorations on only one side, however, tradition is tradition.


This is a small door that samurai's would have to enter this room from to force them to 1. take off their sword, and 2. bow as they entered the room. (Japanese are so polite. They would never tell a samurai to do these things, but they simply change around the environment to give the proper circumstances.)


Feeding frenzy!


Then, back on the bus, and on the way to the Onsen.


Taboo! No tattoos allowed in the Onsen (b/c tattoos mean Japanese maffia! So we had to hide Eelke after this:

Joe went in immediately, but everyone else got lunch:


Eelke with Meri from Finland:


Me with Merri's boyfriend (also from Finland) Esa:


Sorry, no pictures at the Onsen (we all have to get naked, so you can't take photos). There were mostly old Japanese women there, so the 5 white girls really stuck out. But, we didn't really care. They had 2 baths in doors, and then outside there were another 3 baths all with different hotness levels and waterfalls! It was great, but every time I got out of one of the hot baths I kinda felt a little light headed. I also got into the hottest of them all for like 4 seconds, and then jumped in a cold shower (they had normal water showers where you can was off with shampoo and body wash there too). My body was tingly all over, and I felt a little high from the experience.

The guys, however, I guess all lined up along a fence about waist high and were waving to the train that goes by the Onsen. So about a half dozen white naked butts were waving to the train from the Japanese men's perspective. (I wish they let us have a camera in there). But I guess they didn't notice an old Japanese woman working in the farm not too far away who had a perfect view of all of them. Joe says he saw her pull out a camera and take a picture of them when she though they weren't looking. Hell, they deserved it. Guys!


Then that night we headed back to Mochan!'s place and had another great dinner and stayed up far too late drinking and hanging out.


Rei and Hitomi:
(Hitomi taught us how to remember her name by making a fist "Hit" then hitting her own arm "On, me" While we remembered her name fairly easily from this point on, we didn't have the heart to tell her how we were really remembering what it means to "hit on me")


Nono (yes, that is his name. And his little brother is Woolie Woolie) from Holland and Chris:


Me and Elaina:


Rie, Bjarke, Ida, Jørn, and David from Montreal:


And all of us taking a picture with Mochan! who was completely passed out (not drunk either, I think he only had 3 beers, but we did run him ragged with driving today, so I think he was tired.)



Posted by - Rain 03:03

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What a blast you guys all seemed to have had with Mochan! These pix and videos are great advertising for his tours. (Wonder whether he always pulls together such an international mix of people--glad to see that Canada was represented well!) But some of these photos (like the last, where you seem so happy) look as though they could have been taken in Ohio--it seems that the customs of partying are pretty universal!

by Sheryl S

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