“This is mad!” I couldn’t count the number of times that this thought ran through my mind on my short trip to Japan.
It was autumn in Hakone National Park. This is a mecca for autumn colours and promised views of Mount Fuji. I had my instructions on how to get to the ryokan where I was staying and this left me slightly on edge. I was happy with the first part – bullet train from Tokyo. But then there was a bus involved. How do you know if they’re going to stop? When do you know you’re at the right stop? How far is it between stops, should you get off too soon? Or too late?
I needn’t have worried (as is often the case) – public transport in Japan is almost impossible to get wrong. Signs and announcements in both English and Japanese and the right bus stop for me was never in doubt.
After the compulsory tour through the autumn colours to see the clouds and mist that hid Mt Fuji, I had a spare day to fill. I decided to visit the Venetian Glass Museum. Nothing is done in half measures and this was like stepping into little Italy. A combination of Italian flamboyance with Japanese precision. There was beauty everywhere – even when it seemed impossible – the trinkets, the gardens, the glass trees – madness!
And that’s what’s so great about Japan. The impossible becomes possible. Anything goes, even when you least expect it. Especially when you least expect it. From vending machines up mountains and at beauty spots; to pirate ships steaming across a lake in the national park.
And as a visitor it works. Don’t worry that you can’t read the language, or that in cities they don’t really have addresses. You’ll find a warm welcome and have a wonderful time.