For the first week I didn’t really notice it, but after 10 days in Tokyo it was becoming more apparent that the closeness of everything between high-rises, in the elevator, underground, on the train, sleeping in a box, and the shear number of people around me at all times, everywhere I went was starting to very definite effect on how I felt, and though the sun felt nice, the fake plants on the balcony weren’t helping much. I hadn’t slept well in a couple nights, Switzerland metal band on my floor, someone puking on the midnight train, someone snoring, sorry no more room at this restaurant, standing room only here, too much to drink, felt nauseous, felt dizzy, checked out of my capsule hotel, London lady rambling on and on, that’s too bad you lost your bank card, I’m very sorry you’re dealing with your Mom’s death, no I won’t lend you money, no I don’t have facebook, not twitter either, I have to catch a train, I have to get out of Tokyo!!!
With a little help from some new found friends, I found myself settled into Kamakura, which was just what the doctor ordered, a nice change from the greater Tokyo metropolis. Sweet sweet little Kamakura.
All I knew about Kamakura before arriving was there was a Big Buddha. Turns out it’s a coastal town that winds it’s way up between steep ridges overgrown with bamboo grass, vines, massive pines, cedars, and other temperate rainforest plants/trees which names I don’t know. I met a nice girl and we spent the day hiking along some of the ridges, visiting shrines, drinking coffee, and the night sharing food, drink, and music with some incredibly welcoming, happy, singing, guitar playing, artsy folk (hippies, for lack of a better word).
Decided to stay an extra day in Kamakura to enjoy the chill vibe and the ocean for a little longer. That evening I had supper at a local everything-hemp restaurant. The food was great, and the cook/owner treated me to exceptional hospitality – that is not really exceptional at all here, but rather the norm – by describing the ingredients of each dish. Turns out he imports his hemp from Canada.
The next morning I walked along the beach, watched the surfers, did some beach combing, had breakfast at a Hawaiian-themed sandwich shop, bought a toque, sunglasses, and wallet from the street market, and made my way towards Hakone.
The closer I got, the less English signage there was, but so far it hasn’t been too much of a problem, people are very helpful. Stepping off the bus I immediately smelled an overpowering sulfur in the air from the surrounding hotsprings. Decided to splurge and book a private room at a resort with its own onsen spa. It’s a ghost town here, aside from reception I’ve only mainly only encountered a few lost souls here and there in my search for food. The entire resort could use a good scrub-down but the sheets are clean and the internet fast. If I was craving space, I came to the right place. This morning I was up in good time for breakfast and there seems to be a few more people around. The room was quite cold last night so I had to sleep with my clothes on, but I have since found how to switch the baseboard off AC so things are warming up. Think I’ll go in for my first onsen experience, not sure if this spa is clothing optional or not? Guess I’ll find out soon enough.