26 september Tsuruoka (Japan)

We start very early this morning to reach this unknown village of northern Japan. We will use four trains to get here getting often impressed by the professionalism and punctuality of the Japanese.

Along the comfortable train ride, while I read my book, sometimes I lose myself admiring the surrounding landscape that often changes.
From 3000 meters high of beautiful Nagano we make a pit stop first at Takasaki then Nigata and finally, northbound, we continue along the picturesque coast seeing really unexpected glimpses so far from the traditional image we have of Japan.

We arrive in Tsuruoka, a town far from the tourist circuits where life flows serene! We are guests of Abbey, a sweet and nice Scottish girl who also speaks fluently Italian!

27 september Tsuruoka (JAPAN)

Haguro. One of the three peaks of Dewa Sanzan.
We follow what the tradition suggests and we begin the climb, passing below the majestic sacred Torii. Still some steps of old stone and here are the first Buddhist altars immersed in a sparkling nature...
We pass to Gosu-No-To, a five-storey pagoda consumed by the weather that dates back to 1300... from there we begin the long climb on hundreds of very steep steps.


We enjoy the wonderful landscape broken only by the "oni there huà" (hello) of the various pilgrims hikers climbing or descending we meet along the way.
In a couple of hours we reach the summit of Haguro and suddenly we feel like staying in an almost Tibetan landscape: countless Buddhist temples, monks in hardwood flip flops and everywhere believers who pray before the many sacred simulacra knotting paper prayers or playing tambourines and bells...

We try to relax a bit but soon we have to face the return path! Other 2446 steps of effort!


28 september Nikko (JAPAN)

We cross another huge part of Japan to reach the peaceful town of Nikko.
We travel almost all day but the transfer is so pleasant that we never get bored.
Here we are in Nikko, we are approaching the capital!

29 september Nikko (JAPAN)

[Stefy]: "We wake up early in the morning to admire the beauty of this small town. We cross the traditional red bridge and we go up on a staircase between essays trees and damp moss. We climb the many steps in an incredible silence.

It’s 08.30 and we are the only ones around!
We pass the main torii and we are faced with various and very suggestive Buddhist temples.
There was also the "three monkeys" temple, famous all over the world, and representing the  Buddhist precept that: hear no evil, speak no evil and do not look evil.


In another temple, two monks illustrate us, with the use of two wooden sticks, the mystery of the "roar of the dragon" that is an echo louder and longer when the two sticks were beated near the picture of the dragon.

Before leaving Nikko we search the "path of the stones". Dozens and dozens of statues of Buddha with red woolen caps and pink tunic representing the patron of travelers and children; they are lined up next to each other and it is said that if you count them along your way, that number will not match the one of the return because of the so-called "ghost forest" that is hidden, a ghost that appears in the form of statue.
The walk along the trail with the statues illuminated by the sun and the river on the other side made the place enchanted. It seemed to be entered in a fairy tales book.

We leave the beautiful Nikko and, on board of our last Shinkansen, we enter elegantly in Tokyo."

Tokyo fascinates us! Even as we get closer to its suburbs and the first skyscrapers begin to show our curious eyes I keep telling myself, as if to show me that I was not dreaming, but we were really reaching the legendary Japanese capital.

Tokyo, a web of subways and trains. Tokyo, crossroads of new trends and strange characters. Tokyo, factory small robots with white shirts and black suits. Tokyo, cradle of video games and manga comics. Tokyo, dream of travelers!


30 september Tokyo (JAPAN)

We stay at "Yadoya Guesthouse", a small hostel that has soon conquered us thanks to its small "family"!

Mari, one of the owners of the hostel, asked us a few days ago, if we could prepare something typically Italian in view of the social evening, organized once a week.
We could not miss an opportunity like this, and sent the shopping list, we get to work immediately to prepare 2 kg of carbonara for 25 starving Japanese.

The evening has been a huge success! Everybody eat happily! Suddenly: silence in the hall, the wise Aki start speaking and while he welcomes us in Tokyo, magically a plate of chocolate cake appears with a small board "Mark and Stefy. Just married " and two small candles burning plus a bigger one off!
The Japanese tradition says that the two small symbolize our individuality while the long one: our union. The couple turn off the small ones and then turn on the largest one: the beginning of the path together.

We are so touched and we already love all these new friends!

01 ottobre Tokyo (JAPAN)

We reach Shinjuku by subway, an area famous for the fashion and second-hand clothes shops.

Along the colorful road with huge signs and ideograms we cross very weird people... it is only the beginning.

We change area: we are in Shibuya. As soon as we leave the subway station we get stucked in a traffic jam of people! This is the busiest cross-road in the world! They say that the road is crossed by 100,000 people per hour!
Indeed it is very striking to see the swarm of people alive when there is green traffic light and then disperse and thin out soon after.


In a small spot the proud and noble statue of a dog stands, it is the legendary Hachiko! The faithful Akita that has been waiting for the arrival of his master at the station. One day, Professor Hidesaburō Ueno, no longer appeared from the station exit. Hachiko, for eleven years, returned every day in that place to meet his master. He could not know that the professor had died for a heart attack and would never come back.
It was 1925, and this story has touched all Japan as well as inspires Hollywood with a wonderful eponymous film with Richard Gere.


Dominating the entire scene is the majestic "Shibuya 109", a large shopping center where Tokyo teenagers dictate the fashions for the entire country; it is said that from here all Japanese fashion trends start!
What a place! Sellers dressing weird clothes move with robotic mannequins around their products screaming annoying litanies that almost scare us.

Harajuku. Teenagers dressed as manga, shops selling all strangeness but we have to go back to the hostel to rest a bit: Tomorrow... well, in a few hours, we need to reach the Port for the fish auction!


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