Gotemba, Yokohama, and Kamakura

Back in Japan!

明けましておめでとう means happy new year, and it has definitely been a happy new year thus far. My friends in Tokyo that I usually meet once or twice a year invited me to join them at their friend’s family home in Gotemba, Shizuoka prefecture for New Year’s. To be fair, I asked them for recommendations on what to do for New Year’s secretly hoping they would invite me somewhere awesome. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but we caught a coach bus for about an hour out of Tokyo with our friends (Kanako and Satoshi) and our host’s girlfriend (Yuka) who was kind enough for bring beer for the bus trip.

Our host, Ryuu-chan, is a photographer with a penchant for kimono’s. A male kimono is a looser, more drab version of the colourful female kimono that people are generally more familiar with, so Ryuu-chan looks like a samurai wielding a camera instead of a sword.

Ryuu-chan’s family home is a traditional style home with sliding doors that separate all the rooms. This style of home doesn’t have central heating, so a portable kerosene heater is used for any occupied rooms. To keep things extra toasty, and to allow for liberal chances of playing footsie, we all sat around a low table that has a built-in heater. This type of table is called a kotatsu.

That night, we went to a local shinto shrine to inform the shinto gods of our wishes for 2017 — bow-bow-clap-clap-bow. We were offered, and gladly accepted, warm sake, namazake, dried squid, and tiny salamis. For me, this was reminiscent of my first time in Myokokogen.

The next morning, I woke up and poked my head outside, and, boom, there’s mount Fuji. We arrived at night, so I hadn’t realized just how close we were to Mt Fuji. Needless to say the symmetrical snow cone that is Fuji-san was an inspirational scene for the first day of 2017.

Since my lovely girlfriend, Ms Gu, finished her culinary program and is currently awaiting a work visa, we were able to come together to the Myokokogen ski area. Also, since she was able to come, we decided to stay for the whole ski season. It’s been a slow start to the season snow-wise, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

After departing Shizuoka prefecture, we went to Yokohama. There we visited the Cup Noodle Museum and the Ramen Museum. In general, it was a noodle-heavy experience. Next we went to Kamakura, which is a common day trip from Tokyo. Kamakura is a beach-town with lots of temples — you routinely see bikes with side-carriers for surfboards.

Catching up to present time, Ms Gu and I have been in Myokokogen since Thursday and are settling in nicely. Here’s hoping yuki-kami-sama (god of snow) hears our prayers — campai!

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