Friday, 14 October 2016

The Importance of Being Awaken Early - or how I didn't climb Tateyama

 Monday, October 3rd

Today I’m moving to Toyama which will be my starting point for climbing Tateyama.

I’m in Japan for almost a week already and starting to feel a bit lonely. I’m starting to miss my family/friends/colleagues/running buddies/others (choose one based on the category you belong to and whether you want to feel offended or not) - I decided to visit Snow Monkeys. They are quite famous for chilling out the whole day in the hot springs and not giving a single f**k about all the tourists coming to visit them. A bit like visiting Paris.

I arrived at Nagano and checked how to get to the Monkeys. And here comes my fuckup number one. Most of the tourist attractions in Japan close quite early - usually 4 or 5pm. It’s the case with the Monkeys too - the show closes at 4pm. When I checked transport options (train-bus-walk combo again) it turned out I’d have up to 20 minutes with the monkeys. Probably not worth it, and I’m getting slightly tired with the train-bus combo anyway. Just for the record - I still don’t mind walking.
So I decided to visit Nagano instead. Nagano was the host of 1998 Winter Olympics, so quite an important city just for this reason. I went for a walk to the Zenko-ji temple. On the way there you can visit some nice shops selling traditional Japanese craft. It’s very impressive and tasteful. Japanese have many traditional arts and crafts, and the products can be stunning.
The temple itself was beautiful - of course. Buddhist temples are beautiful. And yet whenever I go to see another one, I’m surprised how nice it is.

Another short Shinkansen ride later, and I’m in Toyama. It’s a “regular”, not really touristic city, located by the ocean. I checked in to my hotel and went for a run. I chose a straight, 7 km long street. It goes through industrial suburbs, there’s fairly big traffic, some factories and warehouses around. Basically, it’s quite horrible. But I knew there was a prize at the end of the road. The Ocean.
It was already dark when I got there. Just 200m away from the street, after crossing a line of trees, you can find yourself on a quiet beach. There were a few small fires lit on the shore, probably by the fishermen. And no one else on the beach.
It was a beautiful, peaceful, quiet. And the water was so nice and warm!

Run back to the hotel, showered, got some food (really nice ramen) and decided to try the onsen. Onsen is a traditional Japanese bath, usually with hot springs water. There are some rules regarding using onsen. First of all, you need to go to a shower just before getting into the bath. Second of all, it’s absolutely forbidden to use soap or anything like that. Or to wear any kind of underwear. You just go to the water and relax. It’s great. 10 minutes in, and you need to get out to get a cold shower - and you’re good to go again. Very relaxing, great after a run to loosen up your muscles.

Tuesday, October 4th

Today is the day. I’m going to climb Mount Tate - or Tateyama, as Japanese call it. But first - training.
As it’s Tuesday, I’m doing intervals. After last week’s fiasco with 8x800, I decided to downgrade and go for 10x600m at around 5k/10k effort. I started jogging along the street towards the ocean, planning to do intervals “on the go” after the warm up.
But after the 3rd rep I found myself right next to the Ocean again. It was really tempting…
So I decided to finish the training on the path next to the beach. I even met two joggers there.
The training itself went much better than last week, although it was still really hard due to humidity and temperature.
But the Ocean was there…
I think there’s nothing better to cool down after a hard training, than jumping into the ocean. It’s so relaxing! I didn’t want to get out, but Tateyama is calling.
But if there’s a petition to put an ocean next to every athletic track in London for the runners to cool down after the sessions - just tell me where to sign!
Although, if we keep ignoring climate change (and electing people denying it), we may have ocean soon enough. Not next to, but rather instead of athletic tracks in London. And houses, shops, parks, workplaces, and - God forbid! - pubs…

But, the Mountain is awaiting. Jog back home - a bit too long for a cool down (7km), but when dealing with someone of the format of the Ocean, you can bend a couple of rules. Quick shower, even quicker breakfast (well, it’s noon already…), and I’m on my way to the train station. Nice, local train to Tateyama (name of the town where the trail to Tateyama - the mountain - starts. Well…).

And here comes my fuckup number 2. I failed to understand The Written Word on the Internet and thought that it was 3.5 hours walk to the summit and back from Tateyama station. While in fact it was 3.5 hours, but from Murodo. Which is about 1.5 hours on a cable car from the station. And the next car is at 2:40pm. And the last cable car back is at 5pm (ish). Using my superior maths skills I figured that it’s going to be hard to pack 5 hours (1.5 + 3.5 = 5) in less than 3 hours (5pm - 2:40 pm) slot.
It actually makes sense, as the mountain is 3015 m high, Tateyama station is at 475 m, and the Internet said it’s about 600 m climb… There was clearly something missing here.

I went for a walk around the area instead, cursing myself for too late start and sleeping at reading classes at school. I’m sorry Tateyama, we’ll meet another day.

Got back to Toyama a few hours later. Dinner, onsen, sleep. Tomorrow off to Kyoto!

More pictures here and here.

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