The few people in our group who had made the arduous trip to the top of Mount Fuji were ecstatic. One who was turned back by Kate at the set time disappointed. We enjoyed just hanging out around the lakes.
Would you like more Ryokan Information? All the Ryokans/Inns/Guesthouses provided typical dinners and breakfast throughout. A “typical” breakfast consisted of a bowl of rice, fish fillet, side of pickles (cucumbers, radishes, etc), sour red plum (representing the Japanese flag), fermented soy beans, seasoned seaweed and miso soup. Miso is basically fermented rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and a fungus. This thick paste is used as the main sauce in the soup. It is high in protein, rich in vitamins and minerals but neither of us could stand it. Meals like this are why the Japanese aren’t as obese as Americans and we were going to lose a lot of weight in Japan. This kind of breakfast was expected if not exactly to our taste, and I was getting the look from ex-Marine as he picked gingerly through it.
Dinners had a little more to pick and choose from but we still walked away from every meal starving. Rice became our primary food of choice.
We departed Kawaguchiko by train on the way into the North Alps. At the train station, ex-Marine made a beeline to the snack vending machine for junk nourishment anticipating death by slow starvation…
…while I sat on the train platform guarding the group luggage until the train came (get a load of the Farrah dark-haired version).
We stopped in Matsumoto for a few hours before continuing on to a mountain onsen in the North Alps. A look at Matsumoto Castle with its black walls and spreading wings. The third floor of the six-floor tower was the most interesting part because there were no windows. It was designed as a secret floor that the castle’s enemies wouldn’t know about. And then…
…Oh Happy Day…there was a McDonald’s in Matsumoto. A new experience. McDonald’s Japanese culture-style. You entered, were bowed to by the servers, placed your order, sat down at a table and they served you when it was ready with more bows. (With this paragraph, I’m again prepared for nasty comments on the site that “I shouldn’t travel if I can’t handle the different cultures, stay home, etc.” Fellow readers, I accept the different cultures wholeheartedly and reserve the right to enjoy decadent, greasy and fattening foods along the way. You go right ahead and eat fried tarantulas or Miso soup (not exactly in the same category as the tarantulas) and you have my complete respect.