Beyond the mountains in the foreground is where I should have been able to see Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan. The climbing season is in the spring and summer so I knew I would not be able to do any hiking on Fuji, but I was still hoping to get some nice shots. The train ride up was beautiful but the mountains were covered by a veil of thick, gray clouds but I was still hopeful the skies would be more clear the next day. I checked into my hostel and then walked to a restaurant down the street to get some hot noodles since this was the coldest weather I had experienced in a very long time. As I left the restaurant to walk back, soft white snow flurries started to fall from the sky. By the time I got back to my hostel the ground was white and I knew I would most likely not see Fuji in the morning.
I awoke the next morning to find piles of snow covering everything and still more coming down. Despite the fact it was freezing cold outside, there was still a short hike I wanted to attempt as well as see the town. So I bundled up and prepared to head out into the freezing cold.
The hike I wanted to go on was about a mile and a half from my hostel and I had to walk by a lake in the middle of town. Despite the freezing wind and falling snow, there were still a few fisherman dotting the lake. It was difficult finding the trail because the snow covered all visible markers the map told me to look for, but after huffing it up a steep hill I finally found my way. As I walked down the road I noticed a small furry creature of some sort scurry behind the corner I was about to round. I got a little nervous because I was alone and as far as I could tell there wasn’t a person within earshot either. But my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see what it was. It turns out there was tribe of Japanese macaques, more commonly referred to as snow monkeys, living in the trees. I tried to get close enough to take a picture but they didn’t seem too pleased to see me so I kept walking before they felt threatened.
As I headed up the mountain I saw a sign warning me to watch out for bears, at least I think that’s what it said since it was in Japanese. With this thought lingering in the back of my mind I kept going, although every time I heard a noise my heart skipped a beat. I made it to a clearing near the top of the trail and decided after taking some pictures to head back down. The hike was much more arduous than it normally would have been because of the fresh layer of snow coming up past my ankles with every step I took.
Even though I didn’t get to see Mt. Fuji I enjoyed my time in the quiet mountain town and walking around in the snow, something I don’t see in Ho Chi Minh City. I plan on visiting again during the climbing season so I can see what I missed out on.