Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fujisan and "English-isms"

Picking up from my last post, when we got back from our gin expedition, we changed into the yukatas provided by the lodge and headed down for our first thermal bath here. Despite being warned how hot the Japanese like their bath water, I found the water both here and in Tokyo to be very tolerable. We had the etiquette down pat by now, having gone through the same process in both San Francisco and in Tokyo. One sits down on the stools at right and uses a little hose shower to shower after cleaning oneself with body soap and shampoo. Only after one has done this and made sure that no soap remains is one allowed in the bath.

Photos of Lodge Fujimien, Hakone-machi
This photo of Lodge Fujimien is courtesy of TripAdvisor

After our baths, it was time for cocktails and writing. This picture of Mark on our “ante-balcony” says it all.

At 6:00, it was time to head down to dinner. Those this is not a big place – I imagine they have 40 rooms tops – they go all out with their meals. This was the spread that greeted us when we sat down at our table.

I have to say that I think I did pretty well with my first multi-course Japanese meal. I will admit to being a bit squeamish at the sashimi (raw fish, pictured below), but otherwise I think I at least sampled everything else. I particularly enjoyed their plum wine. I may just have to buy a bottle of that before we leave. 

There were a group of older ladies seated at the table behind us who were chatting up a storm, laughing and obviously having a very nice time. Mark made a comment in jest that these were the wives of the men we saw at our hotel when in Tokyo having a good time with women who weren't their wives. I chimed in, and before you knew it, we had fabricated a whole story about these ladies.

We saw these same ladies this morning at breakfast, then later as they checked out. Mark and I were sitting in the lobby, me working on this post, him working with his pictures on his computer. As they entered in the lobby, they all said good morning to us (in Japanese, but one woman in English as well) and were all smiles and laughter. Then as they left, they all chimed in with "Sayonara," again with the big smiles. I felt badly about the story we had made up (which might have had some truth in it) and was genuinely warmed by their warmth and happiness, and I wished I had asked them if I could take a picture of them; I'm sure they would have been delighted.

We woke up around 4:00 again this morning, as usual, and were rewarded, shortly after 5:00, with a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji. The skies were almost clear, and as the sun rose, the mists escaped from the valley below us and Fuji became even more beautiful. We felt very fortunate to have seen it. Within an hour or so, clouds had moved in, and it was obscured from view the rest of the day.

Breakfast was another buffet feast. I started taking pictures of the foods as I went through, but I felt a little pressure from the guy behind me to move along. I probably should have just stepped out of line and indicated for him to go ahead, but I rolled with it. 

The first of these pictures is my first entry in my offering of what I have dubbed "English-isms"- i.e., rather humorous (mis)translations of English. 

One last comment about breakfast. I picked up a roll, some butter and what I thought was grape jam. When I went to take the lid off the jam packet, however, I found that it was a packet composed of two pockets. Then I looked at the instructions on the lid. "No way," I thought. But yes, there was jam on one side and soft butter on the other.

Thus, as the picture on the cover demonstrated, when it is creased in a certain way, you can simultaneously squirt jam out of one opening and soft butter out of the other, as demonstrated by the following photograph. Japanese efficiency ... even in something as insignificant as a jam packet. Cool.

The picture below, of a box of confectionary on sale in the lobby, is my second "English-ism" entry and, so far, the clear leader. I appreciate the effort to translate, I really do. It's just that, well, sometimes its a little funny.

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