Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 5: Mount Fuji, Lake Kowaguchiko

We got some good rest yesterday, and ate fairly light this morning. Even without dinner last night, we have felt full. We are learning about eating enough and not too much. What a concept!

It was back to New Hotel Otani for pick-up and delivery to the bus terminal for our day-long tour. What a day it was! Our guide, Nana-san, was a pure delight. My only regret is she was always in silhouette so I never got a good picture of her. She was beautiful inside and out. We were cared for, entertained and educated. It was really fun. She began by singing us a greeting song to the tune of Happy Birthday. Her voice was lovely.

Nana-san was concerned the weather was not good for seeing Mount Fuji or much else along the ride, so she came well prepared. She rigged a way to hang homemade posters in the aisle of how the mountain is layered; how the crater is layed out with shrines and hiking trails, and pictures of the mountain. She passed around prints of Mt. Fuji paintings and wood prints, and introduced us to the Mt. Fuji song created by the friction of the bus tires on the road. The song is different going up and coming down. We learned about Japan history, how rice is grown and the Japanese language. She had a song for everything! We sang along as we learned to count to ten.

We stopped for a delicious Japanese lunch at a nice hotel. The layered sections of sashimi, tempura and other delights were served in a gourd-shaped thingy. It was really delicious.

The weather in Hakone and on Lake Ashi was so bad they shut down the vernicular to the top of a smaller mountain and the boat cruise. Instead she rearranged the same events on a different mountain and on Lake Kowaguchiko. It was a wonderful experience with spectaular views of Mount Fuji. The sun came out and it was a lovely, warm afternoon.

Because the tour advertized Hakone and Lake Ashi, Nana-san felt compelled to take us there anyway. It became a welcome bathroom break.

She made sure we had all our connecting train tickets, and printed everything out for each family. She was thorough, efficient, kind, funny and sweet.

We have not tipped one person since we came here. The guide books encouraged it, but Yoshino said "no tipping anybody". We discovered it is really not expected. Nana-san was not offered a tip by anyone, but Larry and I wanted to tip her. I asked her politely to please accept the gratuity with our gratitude for all her hard work. She was flustered, but thanked us. It was awkward.

We tip way too much in America. Just saying... people here take pride in providing excellent service, and it is enough. Imagine that.

No comments:

Post a Comment