Monday, July 23, 2007

Climbing Mt. Fuji (the 2nd day of two days)

3:50 I left the lodge. I thought that an early start meant an early reach to the top, so I could avoid the strong sun light in the middle of the day. The lodge staff served me some rice balls for breakfast. I saw the blue sky, almost no clouds and I felt lucky. It was still dark and cold, so I put on my head light and my rain gear as well as winter clothes.

4:40 The Old 7th station. It was getting colder and colder, so I put on my turtle neck fleece.

4:42 The sunrise was about to begin. But the mount lines hid the sun.

When I turned back, I could see the shadow of the Mt. Fuji. Beautiful.

You can see some toriis (shrine's gate) when you pass the 8th station. Actually, the land above the 8th station is the private property of Fujinomiya-sengen shrine, not public. Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of Edo era (1603-1867) gave this land to the shrine. At the modern era, the government and the shrine were in conflict about the land's ownership, but at last, in 1974, the supreme court admit the shrine's ownership.

I felt short of energy down there, I ate emergency food.

By the way, Cellphone communication is available under the 9th station. (I saw some people using their cellphones at the 9 and half station.)

The top was approaching.
I had felt fear of altitude illness, but I was OK. Maybe enough rest and water contributed to my body's health. In the past, when I went to the same altitude in Peru and China, I felt a headache. At that time, I went there by plane or bus, so fast moving. But this time, I was approaching the top by foot, slow moving.

10 More minutes.

7:26 Here was the top! It took three hours and forty minutes from the new 7th station to the top. The time was more than three hours, normal speed, but I was satisfied with the time. There was a sea of clouds and the plain blue sky. The scene made me delighted.

The shrine on the top. I ate rice balls in front of it. Good breakfast.

This shrine was not the final destination. If you don't go to the highest point on the top, you are like the painter, in Chinese old story, who was drawn the perfect body of a dragon but forget to draw the dragon's shining eye. The highest point is located at...

... around the crater...

near the meteorological station. The road to the station is the most slippery one of all the road. It is the last hardest part.

The monument at the highest point in Japan, in front of the station. Everybody took pictures of each other, everybody took a rest in the atmosphere of accomplishment.I also took a rest, and at 8:20, begun to go down the mountain. It was perfectly clear, and the strong sunlight annoyed me. I should have taken my sunglasses.

Going down Mt. Fuji was harder than expected because of the slippery ground. If you make go fast, you are likely to slip. I went down carefully. In addition to, I had a headache, finally. I should have taken a rest at a lodge (200 yen for 30 minutes.)

I arrived at the 5th station at 12:00. It took four hours from the top. It may be one of the unique characteristics of Mt. Fuji that it is almost the same time climing up time and going down.

Climbing up Mt. Fuji was harder than I had thought, I felt a deep emotion for reaching the highest point in Japan. I don't think that I will try again soon, but I will remember the scene and experience of this interesting.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Climbing Mt. Fuji (the 1st day of two days)

Mt. Fuji (in spring, from Wikipedia Commons)

I have wanted to climb Mt. Fuji for a long time. The journey was as follows:
14:30 departure from the bus station in front of JR Shin-Fuji station (Shinkansen Line) Fare: 3000yen for return
16:30 arrived at the 5th station ("the 5th" means you're halfway up the mountain. ) of Fujinomiya-guchi climbing road.
17:30 arrived at the new 7th station's lodge. dinner, sleep.
3:50 left the lodge
7:30 arrived at the top. After staying there for a hour, left the top.
12:10 arrived at the 5th station. Lunch.
13:30 a bus left the 5th station
15:15 arrived at the bus station in front of JR Shin-Fuji station

In details:

At the bus station in front of JR Shin-Fuji station. My equipments were as follows: in my backpack, there were mainly warm/rain clothing, head light and emergency food, etc. My mother-in-law rented the stock for me just before my departure. I realized that the stock is very useful for climbing Mt. Fuji not long after I started to climb. The bus went to the 5th station from here. It took two hours. Most passengers on the bus were foreigners. The first difference of Mt. Fuji: There are many foreigners comparing to the other mountains in Japan. I saw foreigners and heard foreign languages frequently during the climb.

16:30 There are some start points to the top. I chose the Fujinomiya-guchi start point because it is near my parents-in-law's home. Anyway, there was a dense fog like in the above picture. I begun to climb and I thought I would feel sad if such a dense fog stayed till the top. My clothing: a long-sleeve shirt, t-shirts, cotton-pants.

The second difference of Mt. Fuji: the surface is covered with tiny pebbles, their landslidable condition makes walking difficult. If you have a stock, you will find it easy to walk the ground. Wood stocks are available at lodges for 1,000 yen. They are so so but stocks for mountain climbing are better because stocks are able to change their length but wood stocks cannot.

The climbing road.

I could see a piece of the blue sky. I wished it would remain the same all the way to the top. But I couldn't see below because of the dense fog.

17:30, I arrived at the new-7th station lodge. It looked the newest among the lodges of the Fujinomiya-guchi road. (I don't if this is true, it is merely my impression.) Staying fee is 7000 yen including dinner and breakfast. I ate curry rice for dinner, but it was not enough, I ordered another dish. All menu prices are almost twice of normal, for example, the price of the curry rice is 1000 yen.

These are the beds at the lodge. One big top cover is used for eight people. No sheets, people cannot take a shower, mattresses are thin. There is almost no sound proofing, I heard the noise of midnight departures. So you should know in advance that you cannot sleep well. I also could sleep only two hours, but there are no lights near the beds, so I couldn't read something to kill the boring time.
These are no complains about the lodge. Equipments at the lodges are all the same, we should take them for granted. In other words, Mt Fuji is the most equipped mountain compared to other Japanese mountains over 3000 meters (This is the third difference of Mt. Fuji). Anyway, this lodges staff was kind, so I was satisfied with it.

I advise that you take a rest room break during your stay. All the rest rooms on Mt. Fuji, which make non-smell fertilizer, are pay toilets. You have to pay 200 yen for use, but while you are staying, it is free.

Next: the 2nd day of two days

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Paul McCartney / Memory Almost Full

(For Macca maniacs)
Since Paul McCartney's newest album "Memory Almost Full" was released on June 6th , I have soaked in his music everyday. I feel happy not only for the short interval from the former album - only two years - but also for the fulfilling and fascinating contents.

1. Dance Tonight
First, my feelings about this song are "weak" and "not suitable for the first single". This tune needs more gimmicks. It is too simple, but iPod + iTunes video featuring Paul and this tune changed my impression. This song transformed from a simple and somewhat boring song to a flowering and cute pop tune. The power of the video to my mind was strong.

2. Ever Present Past
Needless to say, the unique sound (like 80's?) and free melody lines are the characteristic of this song. My favorite point of this song is Paul's double track vocals. They show the wellness of Paul's vocals even though he is over sixty.

3. See Your Sunshine
Bass lines are remarkably charming. This song has high quality as a whole, but my ears want to chase only the bass line.

4. Only Mama Knows
I suppose that many Macca maniacs have longed for a song like this. I also have. This song has many characters of "Paul's rock music" - apparently straight and simple, but in fact having many gimmicks, what's more, so awesome! This song is one of my most favorite since I have listen to this album.

5. You Tell Me
Sorry Paul, this tune counted the lowest times played by my iPod and iTunes at the present time. I feel this song also has high quality, but I am too busy listening to the other delicious dishes.

6. Mr. Bellamy
Interesting. Paul showed us a new face of his talent. In addition to this, he composed and sang several unforgettable melodies.

7. Gratitude
Strong positive power flows from this song and its lyrics. Great. However, I feel that Paul strained to sing his high pitch vocal line. A great song but strained vocals. Whenever I listen to this song, I have complicated feelings.

8. Vintage Clothes
I love some of this song's faces - melody, lyrics, and sound composition. In particular, Paul's whistle, which reminded me of his another excellent song "Little Lamb Dragonfly"

9. That was Me
The lyrics are interesting, but the music isn't, I feel.

10. Feet in the clouds
I can't help loving this tune. Normal cutting guitar chords, simple rhymes such "-ed" and "-er", childish lyric like "very very very very very...", Paul's multi chorus changed by a vocoder: above all points fascinated me.

11. House of Wax
Personally, this song is the best for its respects of music completion degree and Paul's new frontier of music. Some of the sublimity and fear were born from this tune. Poetic deep lyrics and spirited and powerful guitar solo make the song more splendid. Paul and his band members are so great.

By the way, I have a question about this song's title for English native readers. What is "House of Wax"- Japanese translated lyrics says that it is "the house made by wax". When I googled this title, I find a horror movie "House of Wax", its Japanese title is "The house of wax figures". Which is true? or isn't the meaning clear even for English native reader?

12. The end of the End
I can't listen to this song with calm. Can Paul's other fans feel this song as an ordinarily good ballad, even though the lyrics describe Paul's life ending?

13. Nod Your Head
Yes, welcome such a "hard" rocking by Paul. Sorry for his vocals... not so strained like "Gratitude" His vocal is so strong and high even though he is over sixty years old, it's unbelievable, just not enough for this song.
On the other hand, I want Paul to write and sing hard songs. Contradiction.

Bonus Track: Why so Blue
Why is this deep song out of the album's normal tracks- I like, especially, the last half of this song, positive lyrics on minor chords. It convinced me that as Paul has gotten older he has acquired a deeper character.

Bonus Tracks: "In Private" and "222"
Both songs are boring for me. I can't find any interesting points in these tunes.

Comprehensive impression
Personally, "Memory Almost Full" is Paul's greatest album since "Flaming Pie". The former album "Chaos and the Creation in the Backyard" is also good because it showed us Paul's new music world. But I feel "monochrome" from the album. The newest album is "colorful". Paul is cheerful, deep and awesome. Only additional one would want is for Paul to do a world tour with the songs of this album.