Going the Extra Mile

We had our first misadventure of the trip on Sunday as we traveled by Shinkansen bullet train to Mishima, a city near the base of Mount Fuji. The bullet trains we’ve been on have all traveled at a speed of 170 mph.

I was so busy writing my Miyajima blog post as we zipped along that I missed our station and only became aware of the problem when the conductor came by to check our tickets. He advised that we could get off at the next station, a half-hour away, then pulled out his pocket schedule and gave us the train and platform numbers we would need to get back to Mishima. The extra travel time meant it would be too late when we got to Mishima to do much other than eat and go to sleep.

On the bright side, I was able to get several good bullet train photos at the stations we inadvertently visited:

We were visiting Mishima in order to view Mt. Fuji up close and the place to do that was the nearby Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival, a flower fest that runs from April through May every year. On the 2-hour bus ride from Mishima to the festival, I took this picture of Mt. Fuji from the bus as we drove along, it’s a good thing I did:

When we left the hotel at Mishima the weather forecast was “partly cloudy” and around 65°F, so we dressed like we would in Washington, long pants and T-shirts. We thought about taking light jackets, but decided against it.

The Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival is popular for the photo opportunities of Mt. Fuji that it provides, contrasting the bright pink of the planted fields of shiba-sakura with the blue sky above and the snow-capped Mt. Fuji in the distance.

Shiba-sakura is known as “moss phlox” in the United States, a plant native to North America but not to Asia. We have some at our house in Washington. Moss phlox is a perennial flowering ground cover.

When we arrived at the festival, however, we discovered to our dismay that the weather system to the north had caused low lying clouds and fog in the foothills, so we couldn’t see Mt. Fuji at all. It also lowered the temperature to the 40s. We were freezing!

And while the flowers were beautiful, they were not the reason we had come here.

We briefly walked the grounds, but decided to head back to Mishima early due to the cold and damp weather.

Back at the hotel in Mishima, we visited the onsen, the public mineral bath on the top floor, had our last sushi meal, then went to bed early.

Tuesday we took another bullet train to Tokyo to catch our flight back home from Narita International Airport where I’ve composed this final entry for our trip before boarding.

Here’s a map with all our overnights and major sites pinpointed.

And so you can locate our travels in relation to places and events you’ve probably been reading about in the media, here’s a screenshot of Asia with Japan and Vietnam circled in yellow.

It’s been a great trip, but after nearly 7 weeks in Asia, we’re ready to get back to the familiar.

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