Oniko's Travel Diary:
The Three Mountains

(August 5-31, 1998)

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Monday August 17th, 1998
Well, it's that time. I'm at the halfway point in this vacation, and I've gotten competant enough and confident enough with my Japanese that I know I can get around and make myself understood. So it's time to take the big step, and head out of Tokyo to parts unknown. Weeeeeell... not unknown, so much as unfamiliar. And not entirely that, either.
You see, years ago I saw an episode of "Travels" on my local Public Broadcasting Station called 'Journey to a Lost Japan'. It followed a lone woman returning to Japan for the first time in many years as she went on pilgrimage to visit a trio of sacred mountains in the Yamagata Prefecture in the north of Japan. I've always wanted to visit them myself, so that's the goal of the second half of this trip. But even before that, I want to climb Mount Fuji... I didn't get a chance last time I was in Japan, and I don't feel right about making pilgrimage to other sacred sites before I visit the big one. So that's the plan; first, Mount Fuji... then San-Yama, the Three Mountains.
But NOT today. I'm still pooped from the comic convention; besides, I'm weighed down with a ton of stuff from said convention. So I arranged to spend one more day here in Nishikasai to get that stuff off into the mail and relax. I'll be peeling out on the 19th.
With that decided and taken care of, I took stock of what I needed to mail and re-assessed what equipment and clothing I was carrying. Admittedly, some stuff I brought thinking it would be really useful is just dead weight... most notably, the GPS locator -- Global Positioning System; I had hoped to use it to map temple and shrine locations, but it just isn't working. That item, and a few others -- extra dictionaries and books, mostly -- were packed to be shipped home along with stuff I've purchased here, so I'll be carrying as little as possible when I hit the mountains. With that done, I took my first box down to the local branch of the post office to send it off and get more boxes to pack; but, of course, it couldn't be that easy.
Why is it that everytime I've finally got things figured out, I run into some insufferable moron who's pretty sure I don't? Just my luck, I guess. In any case, this time the moron in question works at the post office, and he was dead sure from the moment I walked in that I must not know how to fill out the mailing label for the box. He questioned everything: did I properly declare the value of the contents? Was this indeed a gift, and not a business expense? And after I sorted that out, he was pretty sure that the secondary address should be in Japan... and, though I tried to explain to him that the box might get as far as America before it was found the first address was unusable, he refused to allow an American address as the secondary address. And so he crossed out the secondary address I had written on the box, and then plunked it onto the truck before I could stop him. The label, mind you, was filled out exactly as the postmaster in Ikebukuro showed me how to.
Frankly, this guy infuriated me... I've got no idea whether or not that box in particular will make it home now, and there's nothing I can do about that. So, after packing my next two boxes, I went all the way back to Ikebukuro to mail them; I know I can trust the people at the small post office there, and peace of mind is worth the trouble. And so the new boxes were sent, with labels filled out exactly the same way as the moron rejected. Oy. (After the Fact - Oct 12th, 1998: The box in question did eventually arrive; also, one later box was actually delivered to the secondary American address because they couldn't read the primary address. Go figure.)
As long as I was in Ikebukuro, AND as long as I still had more stuff to mail tomorrow, I decided to go scouting around the book stores (yes, I am incurable). So, after taking a nice long walk around Ikebukuro, I came back to the hotel here, soaked in the tub, and typed this in. And now, I'm gonna watch some TV and sleep. Nite.

On to August 18th, 1998

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