A Change of Plan
So after talking to an experienced hiker in the area, I gathered enough information to decide not to do the hike over the mountain to get to Kofu. While it’s definitely possible, my lack of equipment meant that the recent dump of snow and sub zero temperatures would make it quite difficult. My guest house owner offered to take me by car to Yamanashi.
We left at around 9:30am. And boy was he a fast driver. He manoeuvred his little Kei car around the bends, clipping the apexes and kept his foot on the throttle like a speed demon. These roads are famous for the Japanese mountain street racing, or “touge”ing. Maybe he takes/took part in it… Probably not, but still, he was pushing the tiny shitbox of a car to its limit.
The scenery was impressive. The road led up the valley to a huge dam. And instead of going for the standard french alpine hairpin approach, the road curved off to the left over a huge spiralled bridge. I mean, this is Japan after all.
There were plenty of tunnels too. It’s as if the Japanese made this road as straight as possible, avoiding all hairpins at all costs. Maybe to allow trucks to use it?
He dropped me off at a roadside konbini a few miles from koshu and we said our goodbyes. He posted a picture of me to the guest house instagram account 🙂
I bought lunch at the konbini and started my trek through the countryside to Enzan station. I got my first glimse of mount fuji in the distance.
Some more pics along the way.
There were lots of farming fields (not sure what of) and quite a few people were working in them. Some said hello as I walked past.
Eventually I made it to Enzan station, where I waited about 10 minutes for my train into Kofu. Thankfully I could use my IC card to pay which made things nice and easy.
Kofu! It was nice to see lots of civilisation after spending those few days in the mountains. Chichibu, to be blunt, was pretty deserted too.
I headed to the hostel to see if anyone was in so I could ditch my bag, but I had no luck. Check it as listed on booking.com at 3pm, so I headed into town and found a coffee shop to chill in. The coffee was good, but there wasn’t any wifi there. Damn. I headed right around the corner to another more starbucks-esque looking place to hang around at, and there was wifi there. I went back to the hostel at 3, but there was still no-one there. My host came eventually but I had to wait quite a bit of time. She was very apologetic and seemed like a nice person, so I didn’t mind too much. I ended up spending the rest of the day at the hostel because I was so worn out from the trek and the hot weather, and I went to bed early.
The next day I went for a wander around Kofu, this time without my heavy bag. I went to the arcade in the centre of town and played some corny Japanese Super GT racing game, which was actually kinda fun. Next to the arcade was an Animate store. As expected, there was a big area dedicated to Yuru Camp, an super wholesome Anime set in and around Yamanashi Prefecture, literally about people camping.
It was super tempting to buy some merch but I managed to restrain myself. Maybe later. I’m working for 3 weeks at a ryokan in minobu so I’ve got plenty of time.
After that I headed north from the arcade and went to have a look at Kofu Castle. Lots and lots of blossoms were blooming. If that radio tower wasn’t in the way, it would have been an exceptional view.
After that I headed to the market area to look for some food for lunch. Lots of shops were closed, and it was almost deserted. I’m guessing because of COVID-19.
I had to make do with a cheap 7 Eleven lunch. At least I could splash on dinner later.
I went back to the hostel to chill a bit before headed out again for dinner.
I asked the guest house owner if she knew of anywhere good to eat. It was a very difficult conversation due to an incredibly tall language barrier, but we came to a conclusion and she said she’d take me in her car somewhere to eat.
It turned out to be some american style, steak chain, about 3 miles from the centre of town. Not what I wanted, to be blunt. I kindly waited for her to drive off, then started my walk back into town. It was getting dark and was a bit chilly.
On the way I had a chat with my parents and my brother about the whole coronavirus thing. All his mates in Australia are going home, so he’s probably going to do the same. I don’t think solo travelling really suits him, so fair enough to his decision. I don’t mind so much. The situation is worse in the UK than it is here, and I think it adds some more excitement to my trip. We’ll see how it plays out.
I found a rather busy looking Japanese bar/restaurant so I decided to give it a shot. The menu was in Japanese and the waiter/waitress both tried their best to try and explain things to me, to no avail. i thought fuck it, and I told them to give me whatever they thought I’d like, and a beer, for around 1000yen. It was exciting, like some sort of lucky dip.
I ended up getting some sort of cabbage salad with some dressing as a starter, and a pint of an unknown lager.
Next I received some gyoza, which was incredibly juicy and delicious.
Then I got an assortment of fried stuff on sticks. The waiter gestured to me to dip it into the sauce I was given. There was one of everything. Onion, pork, chicken, yam, and eggplant. All of them tasted amazing.
I declined the free miso soup because I was pretty full. And that was the lucky dip meal. The bill came to 1045yen. Not bad at all!
There were a few groups of people at the tables laughing and chatting. It was a really nice atmosphere.
Just as I was walking out, a group of 4 or 5 girls entered the shop. If I hadn’t declined the free miso soup they would have had to sit next to me at the bar. Bye bye, my only chance of socialising. From now on I will always accept complimentary miso soup.
After that I headed to another coffee shop I spyed earlier on my wander around. This one seemed like more of a special one though. No photos were allowed inside. I took a seat next to the window, and ordered a reasonably priced caramel latte and a chocolate cake. It was just me and another couple in the shop. From the window I could look into the street below and see all the couples walking by. Alright, no need to rub it in.
Just before I left the owner asked me where I was from, and we had a nice little chat. The vibe in that coffee shop was very similar to the coffee shop we went to in Kawagoe. Cafe Moala it’s called. I recommend dropping by if you’re in the area.
I took a shot from the street which was more or less what I had from my window.
I took a few more pictures when walking back to the guest house before going to bed.
This morning I had a nice lie in before checking out, and decided to walk to a Starbucks a few miles down the river. It was an incredibly warm and sunny day, and the sky was clear.
I reached the starbucks and got a toasted sandwich and macha latte for lunch. Well, half a toasted sandwich.
Because I was feeling lazy I decided to take a short walk to the Minobu Line and catch the train back to Kofu.
After that I took a short work through town and typed this up at another coffee shop that I knew had electric plugs for me to charge my laptop I bought my dinner and some snacks at a nearby family mart and headed to another hostel for my last night in Kofu. Tomorrow I’ll go to Minobu to start work at a ryokan for a few weeks. It’s going to be interesting.