We were able to reach the United States a day or two before my Grandmother passed. So, that was another flight. I have done a lot of flying in my life and been to a lot of different airports. I have to admit though, it was the first time that I had gone through the Chicago O’Hare airport 4 times in less than a week!! All the while, I was trying to finish up 2 college courses and thankfully, the Professors were all very understanding of the situation we were in. I did eventually get them completed. By the time we returned to Japan, 3 weeks had gone by and Operation Tomadachi was in progress. Operation Tomadachi was the name for the U.S. military giving aid to Japan, whether it was water, clothes, food, etc. I was so glad that we were able to be there for my Grandmother’s funeral, but was glad to be back with my husband, supporting the Japanese in their recovery efforts and working to enjoy the remainder of our tour.
In the summer of 2011, we made our trip to climb Ft Fuji, but didn't make it all the way to the top because of Typhoon Ma-on, (may on) known in the Phillippines as Typhoon Ineng. That Typhoon (which is basically a hurricane, but from the Pacific Ocean) brought high winds and because of the high altitude we were at on Mt Fuji, SNOW. They closed the mountain down to climbers for safety reasons. It was definitely dangerous and cold. So, after only getting about half-way up, we climbed back down and proceeded back to the hotel to check out and get back on the train to go home. Little did we know that we would wind up in a very small, rural train station for 16 hours. As it turned out, the tunnel we needed to pass through to get home was at risk of landslides, other trains and people had been lost previously to landslides, and the Japanese did not want anyone to be hurt so...all trains were stopped until the situation was safe. Since we were in such a rural area, the only thing nearby was a 7-11. And the bathrooms…they were the old fashioned ones (not westernized), so basically, a hole dug into the ground with some lumber put around it (so you didn’t step in it) and that was pretty much it. Oh and did I mention that it was COLD?! All of the announcements were, of course, in Japanese. We didn’t speak enough to understand what all they were saying. We did, however, meet a very nice Japanese guy who did his best to explain what was happening. When an announcement came at 7 in the morning and everyone cheered, we knew that we would soon be moving. When we reached the train station nearest our house, there was a donut shop. We went in and had donuts and coffee and the kids had hot chocolate. Then, half-asleep, we walked the mile and a half home, took turns with hot showers and took a nap. I would say that we got more than we bargained for with our Mt Fuji trip!!
Stay tuned for the next installment!!