Tomi, Taylor, and I decided to take advantage of the time we had between semesters in Japan by going on a biking trip.
We debated over the sites we would visit. We initially thought about flying out from Tokyo over to Osaka, and then biking south to Hiroshima.
"It's too inconvenient", we concluded. "The logistics of transporting a bike that far, or getting one there on short notice would be hard to manage."
Taylor suggested an idea that immediately caught my interest. "Why not go to Fuji?"
I loved the idea. And I thought about 富嶽三十六景 by 北斎 [36 Views of Mount Fuji, by Hokusai], a famous set of prints depicting Fuji and its surrounding landscapes, each taking a look at some element of Japanese culture and life. "Why not make our own?" I thought. Not as artsy, but more of a documentation of the landscapes we'd see. And so was spawned this album.
We made the plan. Booked the AirBnBs. Acquired decent bikes and prepared the necessary equipment.
The first two days weren't too bad. We got tired, naturally, but nothing too painful. Some climbs were annoying, but we survived.
But the third day was the real challenge. We decided to climb up Mount Hakone on our way to Fujinomiya. We got tired. Very tired.
In fact, we nearly passed out. As it turns out, our preparation was not ideal, and we ran out of food and water halfway up.
Though the sights were beautiful, they did little to motivate us when we had reached serious exhaustion. We had to take breaks every 5 minutes, where we would nearly fall asleep.
Of course, at this point we were no longer biking. Only walking. It was not so much a challenge for the heart, but our legs could barely sustain our weight.
I loved the challenge. Despite the discomfort, the feeling of putting all my focus and attention towards climbing this mountain gave me a sense of short-term purpose I could fully engage in.
And, we pushed through. Eventually, we made it to the top.
It was gorgeous. Hakone has a lake that's formed near its peak, rendering the scenery even prettier. The ride down was a blast, too. We rested for 2 hours, and sped through the rest of the day.
It was then we saw Fuji for the first time. It never looked that big, since there are no other large nearby mountains to compare it to.
But as we approached it, its scale became apparent.
The next two days we visited lakes and roads surrounded by greenery.
And we bonded over the distance we had crossed, the challenges we had conquered, and the time we had spent together.
Upon returning, it felt like we had been on a month+ long trip. Physically exhausted, but strangely mentally charged.
This was my first long-distance biking trip. It was without a doubt one of my best experiences in Japan. A true sense of adventure. I look forward to the future.