Shogo was our host in Kawaguchiko, we found him through Air bnb. He’d been on the site for 4 days and we were his first guests which earned him a high five from both of us. He insisted that we were lucky; lucky with the weather on the day of our hike, lucky with seeing actors dressed as Samurai and Ninjas next to a waterfall (I’ll explain later), and lucky that we managed to dodge the second person fee that he forgot to put on the original advert.
His place is actually a Japanese style hotel, which he figured he’d get some extra money by air bnb in the low season. We figured that his parents let him do that as long as he tidies up after the guests and handles the comings and goings. It was a really nice place with a stunning view of Fuji out of the window.
We actually hung out a few times over the week and had a laugh. Talking about all sorts of things including the difference between American and British English – in the broad sense, his trip to Denver, his upcoming trip to Canada, our trip around Asia. We had a laugh with him, he’s about our age and a kindred spirit.
Shogo ‘got us’ pretty quickly after he picked us up from the station, he asked what we wanted to do in Kawaguchiko and when we answered with ‘oh well you know’ and ‘this and that’ type stuff he said: “You guys want quiet”. Yep.
He showed us some amazing stuff around the town, including a really great udon place called Junta. We sat there for hours and it fitted what Shogo said about it – in Junta, time moves slowly. In fact the guy that set the place up and runs it fell asleep after he’d given us our food. We had to wake him up to pay him. That’s brilliant isn’t it. This is the place.
Here’s me looking full after a mammoth Udon lunch. That’s a Japanese style heated table by the way, it’s like a duvet attached to the edge.
The day after our hike up to Mitsutoge, we wanted to find an onsen. We were asking Shogo if it was possible to ride the bikes that he rents to guests, which are great by the way, or how much a taxi would be. He said he’d drive us, and when we arrived he pulled out three free tickets to the onsen. Legend. Normal rate is over a thousand Yen so that was appreciated. You did read right, there were three tickets so we hung out with him all day in the onsen. It was great. Actually Pete hung out with him in the bath, the onsens are segregated for men and women.
Onsen is an ancient Japanese culture of communal bathing in hot spring water, originally from volcanic springs it’s been adopted for modern times and there are now leisure centre type buildings with multiple pools of hot waters with different properties to dip your toes into. There’s a carbonated pool, a jacuzzi, a flavour pool which is camomile, a cavern pool which smelt slightly of rotten eggs – not in an overwhelming way, so I assume that was sulphur, a sauna, and a steam room. Everyone has to be naked, you get a little towel to cover your bits when you’re out of the water but obviously water is clear so it doesn’t matter either way. You see that everyone’s body is different under all those clothes that they normally wear, you feel those self conscious niggles about your body drifting away with the steam. During the bathing I told Shogo that we’d heard someone mention a waterfall on the way down from Mt Mitsutoge but we hadn’t seen one, he said he knew the one we meant and we could go afterwards.
This is probably the most random thing to happen to us on this trip, we arrived at the waterfall to meet these guys
Jumping around and shooting a promotional video. It was pretty awesome to see, they’ll be performing at Hyper Japan in London soon. The waterfall was also amazing and sounded brilliant as waterfalls always do. The little ledge where the water hits and flies out at right angles reminded us of Courtallam so good times there.
I never mentioned Shogo’s plan, a year ago he quit his job as a car mechanic because the Japanese society in companies forbids you to say anything other than yes to your boss, it is really rigid and it runs all the way through society. He said that Japanese parent’s advice to their kids is not their opinions but just to ‘be the same as everyone else’.
He went to Denver, Colorado on a three month exchange with a family whose mum had lived in Japan, he’d gotten the taste for more so in a month he’s heading to Canada to hopefully study marketing at a university in Calgary. He wants to return to Japan to teach some of the Japanese people that there’s a world outside of the pressures of their society.
We think we’re lucky to have met Shogo, We wish you luck dude and we’ll see you again somewhere. Next time we’ll get a picture with the three of us.