Miyanoshita, Japan

Sunday, October 6, 1929

A pretty good sort of a day. For once I beat the household up, but it didn’t pay because I had to wait that much longer for my breakfast. This over, I started up the long winding road that led into the hills, finally crossing between a gap and winding down again to beautiful Hakone Lake.

Can’t say too much on the beauty of the Hakone Hills. They are very large ones and green with forests, grass, and orchards. From the heights one commands a gorgeous panorama of the country for miles around—plains, hills, mountains, rivers, two large lakes, the sea to the south, and finally Mt. Fuji sweeping majestically up from out a plain and lifting her peak far above the neighboring hills.

When I got to Hakone Lake, Fuji was nowhere to be seen. That was strange for I had pictures of it taken from the lake. I went to the opposite side of the lake and climbed the winding road into the hills to get a better view. Still no Fuji. So I cut across fields and pastures of weeds, finally finding a path that led to the top of the peak that was my aim. Up here I could see for miles in every direction but still no Fuji. Plenty of other hills, but none could qualify. I had just made up my mind that either Fuji was a lot of bolongy [baloney] or that I was, when above a heavy bank of drifting white clouds I saw something black. It seemed so far up that it couldn’t have been anything but more bolongy—yet as the clouds dropped lower, there she was in all her gracefulness, lifting the top third of her cone above the clouds which hung at her waist. Gosh, but it was an inspiring sight—no snow, but magnificent without it.

The clouds refused to reveal more and so I climbed down again and enjoyed it from the lake. After some lunch I followed the path around the shore of the lake. A dandy walk through the woods with plenty pf glimpses of the lake and hills. There were quite a number of foreigners at the lake.

In an hour I came to the boat landing at the far end of the lake. Buses meet the boats here and go to Gotemba, at the foot of Fuji, and Miyanoshita. I elected to walk to Big Hell, then back to Miyanoshita. This involved another long climb through the woods. The path was alive with people enjoying the beauty of the country.

Half way up a young man from the Japan Tourist Bureau joined me. His English was in the making, but English is very difficult for the Japanese. He had the habit of gurgling and sucking when a word would not come to him. It seems to be a national habit among students of English to give a nice long liquid suck to find a lost word—perhaps suck it in from the atmosphere.

He told me the question of restricting population increase was now being debated by students and statesmen, but it would be very hard for a restriction was against the old customs—and religion. That geisha girls were not respected by the people and if you treated them like a lady they would act like one—also vice versa. That English was compulsory in all the intermediate schools. That boys and girls never went together in Japan—if you see two of the opposite sexes together you are pretty safe in assuming them married.

Big Hell was quite a place. At the head of a narrow, rapidly dipping valley are a number of sulfur springs that bubble, give off clouds of sulfur dioxide (my chemistry?) and deposit yellow-green sulfur about the springs. The air is full of sulfurous odors and rivals the old chemistry lab. Farther down the valley are more sulfur springs and this whole area between the two is devoid of vegetation. There are many hot mineral springs too. They bubble up through small openings and trickle off to the larger stream that tumbles over its rocky bed to the river below. Not such a rotten view from here, but a rugged towering mass of rock and trees nearby reminds you that you aren’t as far up as you thought you were.

My friend Shiro Yoshioka had some complimentary bus tickets so we walked down to within a mile of Miyanoshita and finished up on the bus, he continuing on to Odowara and Tokyo.

It happened that a good-sized party of tourists had arrived, probably some of the same I saw at Nikko. This is always an occasion for the awakening up of the good loyal citizens and a 25 to 50% raise in the price level. I don’t like to be taken for a tourist even if I am one. At these times i enjoy wandering about watching the buying activities and sometimes doing a little pricing myself for variety’s sake. For instance, a carved ivory necklace sold here for 20 odd yen; the same for 5 or 6 in Kobe, and for 5 to 8 in Canton and Shanghai.

After a dinner of five bowls of rice, raw fish steak, and a sort of soup, I strolled up to the furtherest edge of the city—pardon—village. Black hulking mountains dotted with lights and a roaring torrent stream are always very satisfying on dark nights. 21 miles more of shoe-leather ground into the dust and even a few fleas didn’t make the bed on the floor feel so bad.

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