I woke up and I looked through the window of the wooden cabin in Yamanakako. Still cloudy but at least not raining, or stormy as the previous day, when I rode 40 km climbing towards the Fuji Mountain.
My hope was to be able to see the summit of Fuji Mountain, impossible to see the day before due to the dense clouds embracing the mountain.
After boiling some water with my stove for my noodles and coffee, I finished my packing, put the panniers on the racks and with some hope still alive I rode 500m towards the lake. Once there, I look right, look left… and bam! There she was! The perfect cone of the 3400 m hight Fuji Mountain was finally visible from the lake Yamanakako.
This landscape gave me a good boost for starting cycling around the mountain and towards Shizuoka. My cycling goal was to reach 90 km before 17h to compensate for the day before. Arround 18h was the sunset so 1 hour margin is more than enough to find somewhere to settle for the night.
On the way I cycled beatifull countryside roads, crossing bamboo and fir forests.
By 16:40 I reach the 90 km. I was arriving to a little town called Ojima. I stop and I started my personal protocol for setting down for the night: I took out my cellphone to check with Google maps the location of some park, Shire or temple where I could mount the tent and a convenient store (7/11) to secure toilet and food.
When going to the convenient store, I saw a bakery and I had to stop. Japanese little cakes and sweets are tremendous! So I went in and I started pointing what my eyes where already eating. Finally I asked the smiley woman about the temple I was looking for, I thought that was pretty close. The smiley woman told me that was just on the other side of the street, and that that day were some celebrations with a lot of people because of the Buddha’s birthday. Just before leaving with my sweet shopping, the smily woman gave me a little cake with cream and strawberry.
I crossed the street and I entered the temple gate. Suddenly I heard a big dong being hammered. It was five o’clock. I look up to the dong tower and I see a nine year old boy going down the stairs after finishing his job. Downsters he met a man dressed as a monk, he was Gaku, his father.
Gaku approached to me with a smile in his face. We started talking (trying to understand each other in english) about the celebrations of the day. He pointed towards the temple and invited me in.
We went to the Buddha’s room. Very spacious room with wooden pilars and bamboo tatami. He showed me the Buddha with all the offerings such as flowers or fruit and other symbolic representations. Then, he invited me to lid an incense stick and dig it into a jar with sand. After that, we bowed the Buddha and we kept on talking. Gaku asked me if I had somewhere to sleep. I said that not yet and he invited me to stay during the night. I suddenly realized that the day of Buddha’s birthday was my lucky day.
We moved to another room, where the celebrations of the day had been. It was a pretty big space, full of bamboo carpets. Gaku told me with the smile in his face that before resting I had to help him to clean the floor. So he gave me a vacumm cleaner and I did my job. After ridding 92 km and having the bed secured this was a very easy job.
Suddenly woman and the boy I saw before came. She was Sakura (that means cherry blossom in japanese), Gaku’s wife. And he was Haruki, their son. We presented each other and Sakura invited me to take a shower, actually she insisted on me having a bath. I could not deny the offer, so she went to prepare the bath. She told me that in 10 minuttes would be ready. I bowed and thank her for that and Gaku brought me in the meantime to another room. It was the room of the ancesters. The light was low, the wodden sealings carved with many details and figures. There was a big flower in the center of the room, with an intense addictive smell. On the wall there was a big furniture with wodden sticks withs inscriptions. Every stick was for the memory of one ancestor as I understood. On the other wall there was arround 20 portraits of teenagers who died during the second wold war. Next to the porttraits there was an original japanese map from those times. Meanwhile Gaku was explaining me that, Sakura came. The bath was ready.
After the bath, we ate dinner. Sushi and tempura made of many different plants picked from the garden. By then, Gaku’s mother joined us. Then we took a picture.
When we where eating, Gaku invited me to join the Japanese caligraphy group that he holds every second week. So did I. At seven I met the other companions and I joined the group. It was at the Buddha’s room. There were preapared 4 low tables. One was for me. We sat in the japanese style, on our heels. And Gaku showed me what I had to do. It was a short version. Some verses of Kanon goddess (the same as the cameras). I had to write in the on the thin japanese paper what was written behind. Before starting the writing, Gaku started a little ceremony, singing and playing a small bell.
This was the result of my work after some time.
This is what Gaku did:
The we took some tea.
After that, we came back to the room where we took dinner and Haruki showed me some of his favorite movies, Totoro.
Gaku likes Manga books!
Time to sleep. The day after we had to wake up at 6. Breakfast at 6:30.
I woke up with the sound of the dong that Gaku was playing. It was six o’clock. We took breakfast and Gaku and Haruki showed me the garden and the green tea plantation.
Then we took some group pictures.
After, I went back to pack my bags and get ready. In the meantime several people came to the temple. They where all informed about my trip. When I got ready I went out the temple and several people approached me meanwhile I was setting up the panniers on the bicycle.
Finally time to go. I said goodbye and thank for such an incredible time together. When I left all the people waved at me and Haruki took his bike to make together with me the first meters of my new cycle day.