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jorgesanchez Hachijo-fuji - A travel report by jorge
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Hachijo-fuji,  Japan - flag Japan
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jorgesanchez's travel reports

By boats to Riykyu/Nansei Shoto archipelago

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An original way to travel from Tokyo to Taipei, in Taiwan, is by boats calling in many tiny islands along the way that until the XVII century, before been invaded by the Japanese, belonged to China.


Hachijo Fuji in Hachijo Island
Hachijo Fuji in Hachijo Island
A most fantastic and relaxing way to go from Japan to Taiwan is by boat, through the route: Tokyo - Hachijo Jima - Naha - Ishigaki - Iriomote - Keelung (I love travelling by boat and by train). My ticket was flexible and first stopped for a week in Hachijo Jima (Jima means Island in Japanese) where I spent one week with Japanese friends. Japanese love westerners very much and are very generous. When you hitch hike they pick you up almost at once, and sometimes, if they see that you are not shaved for two or three days, they will stop the car in any shop of the highway and will buy you a shaving machine (that happened to me twice!). You should try to learn some Japanese since for them it is very hard to pronounce English more or less intelligibly. Hachijo Jima is a quiet island at a night of pleasant navigation from Tokyo. Many Japanese go there for the weekend to leave for a while the tumultuous life in the capital. In the evenings they all go to the ofuro, or Japanese sauna, where everybody helps each other. For instance, while I was laying placidly in a plastic chair, a Japanese approached me and, without telling me anything, started cutting the nails of my feet, and observing that I did not complain, (although at first I was upset), another one followed and massaged my neck, all very naturally. After the ofuro everybody go to one of the many clubs of the islands to sing American songs in the karaoke and drink bottles of sake without coercion. In Hachijo Jima there is a mountain called Hachijo Fuji, considered by the inhabitants the second Fuji Yama (Yama means mountain in Japanese), but it is not as fantastic and high as the original. A few weeks earlier I had made a trekking until the peak to the real Fuji Yama (3776 metres) starting in Kawaguchilo, from where I took a bus to the fifth stage, at 2300 metres of altitude, together with hundreds of Japanese pilgrims signing Shinto’s litanies along the way.

Favourite spots:
Life on board the ship. This child and his mother always followed me everywhere
Life on board the ship. This child and his mother always followed me everywhere
OKINAWA ---------------- In my way by boat to Taiwan, where I wanted to learn Mandarin Chinese, I stopped for another week in Naha, in the island of Okinawa, the greatest in the Ryukyu/Nansei-Shoto archipelago, and visited the spectacular Itoman caves, in the south of Naha, where I met several American soldiers who told me that they lived in a US military base in the north of the island.

What's really great:
Kamakura Buddha
Kamakura Buddha
KAMAKURA ------------------ I love very much this statue in Kamakura, more than the world famous wooden one in Nara. Many times I went there by bicycle from Tokyo, where I was studying Japanese. In the back there is a door and you can enter inside the Buddha. At that time I was travelling around Asiatic Buddhist countries looking for Buddhist statues with special gaze in their eyes, emulating the celebrated Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang (also known as Xuan Zang), one of my travellers heroes, because I had just lived several months as a monk in a Buddhist Zen Monastery (variant Rinzai-shu) in Northern Kyoto.

Accommodations:
Port of Hachijo Jima, on my way to catch the boat to Naha and later Taiwan
Port of Hachijo Jima, on my way to catch the boat to Naha and later Taiwan
In Tokyo every traveller goes to the youth hostel in Takadanobaba. In Hachijo, the town of Hachijo Jima there are typical ryokans or you can sleep in the same ofuro, what many Japanese businessmen do. During the trekking to the Fuji Yama there will offer you basic and Spartan accommodation along the way, just a flat wooden table, like a fakir, under the open sky, for a few thousands yen.

Restaurants:
my friend preparing chainiyu, or tea ceremony, in Hachijo Jima
my friend preparing chainiyu, or tea ceremony, in Hachijo Jima
Many Asiatic men affirm that the three most delightful things in life for a man are: living in an American house, marrying a Japanese woman, and eating Chinese food. I would change it for living in a lovely English small house with annexed garden, marrying a Chinese woman and eating Japanese food. Food is gorgeous in Japan! You should try the yakiniku prepared at home (ask your future Japanese friend’s) with special meat from Nara or Kobe.
If you like sweets (I adore them!), then try the okashis, made with beans, and are delicious.

Published on Saturday July 9th, 2005


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Sat, Jul 09 2005 - 10:57 AM rating by davidx

What an experience! and what a report!

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