It seems we've been neglecting our journal. Good thing a picture speaks a thousand words. I blame China's internet, mainly in mandarin and generally unreliable, it's challenging at best. The short version, well, we reluctantly left hirafu, managing to get in some great spring boarding, an onsen or two and a few more of those pastries from abu cha . The onsen took a little syking up at first, but then you wonder how you ever did with out them. Our thanks to Maggie, Kal and the guys for their hospitality up there.
After leaving Hirafu we headed for Tokyo. An amazing city, the sheer size needs to be seen to be believed. If you combine it with nearby yokohama (theres no point where one city starts and the other begins) it's an uncomparable expanse of population. 5 days seeing the sites and a day with the monkeys in Yudanaka. Shinkansen trains make this country a breeze to travel, just avoid the smokers carriage, an accident never to be repeated. The a- bomb monument of Hiroshima, Universal Studios of Osaka where a 2hr queue yields 7 minutes of glory means you have to be diligent about ride choice (sorry Cec, ET just didn't cut it). The temples and Geisha of Kyoto and Nara and all to the backdrop of the cherry blossom season (hanami), our timing could not have been better. It was refreshing to visit a place that holds such importance in keeping it's cultural traditions while leading in modern times. The people, the diversity, the uniqueness, what an amazing country, we'll definately be back.