little snail, slowly slowly climb Mount Fuji @Lonely Planet Pathfinders: The trail glows bone white under our boots. Konohana, the Shinto spirit of sacred Fujisan, smiles on us mountaineer-wannabes in the form of a harvest moon and cloudless sky. On short notice, I’m attempting an early, out-of-season ascent of Mount Fujisan – an overnight dangan tozan, bullet climb – with two friends from Tokyo, David and Naomi. The weather forecast looks good; the crowds on the most popular — read easiest — trail should be thinner. So far, we’ve been right. With a moon like this to light our way, we have no need for headlamps. Eight thousand feet below, Mount Fuji’s triangular moonshadow turns the Aokigahara, the so-called “Forest of Suicides,” a deeper, darker shade of green. At the top waits the promise of the fabled goraiko, the so-called “honourable arrival of light:” sunrise from the summit of the highest point in Japan.
Shinjuku’s Golden Gai: Down the Rabbit Hole in Tokyo’s Best Nightlife District @Lonely Planet Pathfinders: Tokyo has more than its share of popular nightlife areas. Shibuya draws the club kids. Roppongi caters to the international crowd. Kabukicho is the largest blue-light district in Asia, a disconcerting mix of hostess clubs, brothels, and straight-up bars and restaurants.
Still, in the twelve-plus years I’ve lived in Tokyo, it’s to Shinjuku’s Golden Gai I go to meet interesting locals and, increasingly often, tuned-in travellers.
William Gibson wrote that the soul, like lost luggage, needs time to catch up with the long distance traveller.
Maybe that’s why I feel… discombobulated as I wake to the scrunch of rain turning to ice outside an unfamiliar window. This is not my bedroom in Tokyo. Then some part of my jetlagged soul catches up, and I remember: I’m back in Toronto, my first trip “home” for Christmas in 15 years.
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