October 17th, 2004 (3.53am)
I have just finished watching many episodes of the Simpsons, and there was an earthquake about 3 seconds ago and the apartment is still shaking as i am typing this... It's kind of eerie to be up at the middle of the night and then everything start to shake all of the sudden, mostly in a quiet manner as the sofa sways under you. For a moment you pause and wonder if this is "The Big One" as the swaying increases in strength but then let out a nervous sigh as it seem to not grow in magnitude, and eventually settles and slowly fades, until you are not sure if it's really shaking or just your residual imagination. Besides the obvious fear for death involved, it's actually comforting in a way to know that the earth is relieving the tension buildups in small doses instead of pending it up for a big one. It was a long time (maybe almost a year) before we had a significant earthquake in Kanto, and while life went on as normal, people did have in on their mind and wondered if something big was going to happen (it kind of did) - kind of like that familiar face you see on the subway is missing for an extended period of time.
--- continuing on the hiking trip last weekend ---
The starting point for the hike was officially at Tateyama station. The road past that is off limits to private vehicles, and you can either walk or take the bus / cable car. Since it's an elevation of some 2,000 meters and several kilometers from the train station to the start of the hike at Murodo station several kilometers away, walking is just an illusion of an option and you have to shell out for bus tickets. As we have all should know now, monopoly means that the tickets are incrediblly expensive: one way trip was some 2,500 yen and roundtrip would cost a hefty 4,410 or so. Considering that a trip from here to the airport (some 120km) is only 2,000 yen ("only" in a relative sense), the price is extortion even by japanese standards. Worse yet, once you try to board the bus a guy comes over and asks to weight your bag - over 10kg means another 300 yen for the bag-fare.
The bus departs and enters the checkpoint where all private cars must turn back, and pays a toll. Since no normal cars can go through the toll did not reflect how much it would have cost, but for a bus it was certainly expensive at over 25,000 yen. Not that the bus didn't make money from all of us at ~50 seats filled to the rim at a fat chunk of change each, but nonetheless I did feel somewhat better (for reasons I cannot, at least at such an early hour, explain) knowing that i would have no way of affording the toll if they did allow cars up there.
The ride up to Murodo was uneventful though quite beautiful. Most of the way we were climbing and in only a few minutes we could look out the window and the road from where we came from would be on the other side of a valley and many meters down. Autumn already begun to paint the mountainside with a palette of yellow and red, and as the bus drives by suddently a patch of wonderfully shaded red colours would flash past the window, against a blue sky dotted with clouds - picturesque like a painting in a way that can only be after the passage of a storm.
On the way, we passed a long waterfall on a distant mountainside. The bus driver stopped to let us look at it temporrarily. It was far away and long - while it did not have the sheer raw power of Niagara falls or the sheer length of drop of the Nikko fall, it incited quite some excitement among the passengers. A few minutes later, we passed another fall, aptly named "sou-men taki" as "noodle fall," as the water hits a sloped mountainside and takes many routes down, very much like a a bundle of noodles drying on a bare surface.
-- continuing some other time --