Monday, November 06, 2006

Veni Vidi Vici

As fast as Lance Armstrong
... as long as there's not a bike involved. Lance Armstrong made his debut in the New York City Marathon, finishing in two hours, fifty nine minutes, and thirty six seconds. Full story here.

In the meantime, before I endeavor to match Lance's biking record, I'll stick with adventures a little closer to reality. Aki-no-Kofuji, sometimes referred to as Hiroshima's Mt. Fuji (Aki is the old name for Hiroshima), looms over the bay like a giant onigiri was somehow dropped onto one of the neighboring islands. The mountain is located on Ninoshima, one of the smaller islands just south of Hiroshima Port.

To access this island, take the #5 tram from Hiroshima Station, then go to platform #5 at Hiroshima Port. A roundtrip ticket (and you'll need one; you don't want to spend the night on this island) will cost you ¥760.

From Hiroshima
06:30, 07:30, 08:30, 09:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30

From Ninoshima
06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:15, 11:30, 13:00, 14:30, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00

Other than the mountain, there is little to nothing else on the island. To me, this is a completely different culture - true, I grew up in a landlocked area, so I'm not familiar with life on the east coast. Taking the ferry to Staten Island, going to a private residence off the coast of Boston... people do this kind of thing regularly. Japan even more so. All these small islands in the Hiroshima area are inhabited by people who commute to the city daily. Even on an island like Miyajima, there are schools, homes, restaurants, public facilities, etc. Ferries capable of carrying hundreds of people and their cars (well, a dozen cars) are quite common.

This is the environment you're walking into once you disembark at Ninoshima Port. It's a small town, connected only by one small boat. Yet there are children playing in the streets, women walking to the store, old men greeting me as they fish... very nice, and very rustic.

To get a nice overview of this area, follow the signs. Take a left as you leave the dock, and you'll run right into a marker like this one:

It's a straight shot from that point on. I should point out once you're starting to clear the town, and the path forks for the first time just past a garden, it seems like the best choice would be right, as the northern path is overgrown and unclear. Yet you should go left - it clears up in about fifteen minutes. Just wear long pants, and watch out for kumo (spiders). They will try to eat you.

Once you do reach the top in about an hour, you get a nice view of Hiroshima and the surrounding islands:

I'd really recommend a night viewing on Aki-no-Kofuji, as the lights of Hiroshima would be incredible from this location. But... it's not the best trail to attempt in the dark, ascending or descending. You could bring a flashlight for the descent, just be careful. You are really cut off from civilization, and the last ferry to Hiroshima leaves at 8 PM.

The Miyajima race is a go thanks to some ingenuity on my part. Come out and join me on November 26th when the autumnal leaves are at their brightest.

Here it is, your moment of literary confusion:

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

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