Hi Japan Travel Blog | Chapter 5

r.j. kushner
4 min readMar 27, 2024

At long last: Mt. Fuji. Or, specifically, “a view of Mt. Fuji.” We took a long bus ride to see a glimpse of the famous Mt., which is immortalized on mugs and keychains in just about every gift shop in Japan.

I prepared for the trip by putting a syrup packet in my jacket pocket so it could spill all over my sunglasses case.

When our bus arrived in Hakone, we took a cable car. It rode smooth and was not as scary as I thought it would be for something dangling me high up in the air. The ride only lasted a few minutes, but its reveal of Fuji interwoven with the steams of sulfur from below were impressive. It was like I was in one of the keychains. And the song turned out to be right: I was in over my head, and everyone knew it.

When the cable car landed on the other side, the best view of the mountain was blocked by trees and a security guard who kept tapping a big sign that I presume translated to “Anti-climax.” So we walked around and took a picture in front of a big black egg, which the tour guide told us later was the big black egg of fertility. So that’s where that is, in case you were wondering.

We took a pirate ship across Lake Ashi and had lunch and I drank about six cups of something called “Fanta Melon,” a neon-green soda that looked like something the Hulk might urinate.

It was another long bus ride back to Tokyo and our tour guide was woefully behind schedule. There was talk of mutiny and a sizable portion of the tour group elected to ditch the bus and try their luck on the train. Those who remained came to the consensus that we could all only spend five minutes for our one scheduled bathroom stop, and I immediately regretted drinking so much Hulk piss earlier.

When we finally got back to Tokyo, I rushed Nhi to a manga store in Akihabara that I had researched on the bus, Googling to confirm the location had English translations of famous manga. We arrived an hour before the store closed, only to discover it sold zero English translations and was mainly populated with paperbacks of mythical creatures with dangerously enlarged mammary glands. Just to confirm Google’s plot to embarrass me, I asked the guy behind the counter if there was an English section somewhere in the tiny store. “This is Japan,” he said, and he had a good point.

We worked out our angst next door playing Street Fighter II in a five-story arcade, where I lost every game. We then went to “Don Quijote,” a retail chain that sells everything and is often shortened to just “Donki.” It has its own theme song, which it enjoys playing on loudspeakers every 11 minutes or so.

Like a lot of the stores in Tokyo, everything expanded upward, with multiple floors connected by escalators. There’s something about shopping at 1 a.m. and listening to the Donki theme song that makes you consider spending $70 on a “Catbus” welcome mat.

It turns out that when you purchase items “tax free” in Donki, which you can do by showing your passport, they put the items in a plastic bag with a seal that says “Do not open in Japan.” Nhi said this is so you don’t purchase it and then turn around and sell it for a profit. Unfortunately for Japan, I am a master locksmith when it comes to adhesive seals on plastic bags and, after my manga store disaster, I have nothing to lose anymore.

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r.j. kushner

Dubbed by the New York Times as “all out of free articles this month.”