This past weekend, my housemate and I went to the Mt. Fuji area with a bunch of friends that we had never met before. I knew one person from the group, the one who invited me. I had met him about a year earlier in New York City when he was a study abroad student from Japan, but I had only spoken with him once in the park and not talked to him since then. But, when he invited me to Mt. Fuji, I couldn’t say no! So we ended up going with him and 15 other Japanese people. Very interesting experience, since nobody spoke English, except for the guy who invited me, and my Japanese is not even at a conversational level. But everyone was fun and laid back after we spent some time together, so it actually turned out awesome!
My friend, Uki, picked my housemate and I up at our nearest station on Saturday morning. He was with one other friend, and after picking us up, we drove to another station to pick up a couple more people. I sat in the passenger seat with Uki driving. Then we joined a small caravan, with two other cars filled with people, and started our journey to Fuji. We stopped along the way at a giant roadside stop with an enormous food court to have lunch and awkwardly attempt to make conversation with the people from the other cars. One friend gave our car a couple of CDs to listen to on the way, since we couldn’t figure out the radio. One of them was Backstreet Boys’ greatest hits. So we put it in and set off once more. To my surprise, Uki knew all the words to every song. He sang them quietly while he drove and I stared in disbelief. He proudly told me, “I went to their concert!”
After a drive of only a couple hours, we arrived at our first destination: a cave. The first cave we went to was an ice cave, and though it was hot outside, once you went underground and to the bottom of the cave, temperatures were below freezing and there were giant blocks of ice everywhere. I’d never been in a cave before. After that, we visited one other cave before driving to a small cottage where we were staying for the night. The cottage was located in a small village of cottages where people stayed when they came to visit. It was very comfortable and homey, and there was an onsen nearby. After a big bbq outside our cottage that night, everyone went to the onsen for a bath. But before we unrolled all the futons and settled in for the night, we took a walk to the lake shore to light sparklers and run around. It was a beautiful night, and Mt. Fuji’s figure was outlined by the moonlight across the lake. We walked back to our cottage and slept on our very comfortable futons, and drove home the next day.
On the way home it was dark outside, and the typhoon had come, so it was raining pretty hard. I was asleep in the passenger seat, when all of a sudden I feel a splash of cold water on my face and hear a roaring wind. I woke up shouting, and turned to Uki, who was laughing at me. He said,”I wished you to feel typhoon, to get full experience.”
For a lot of the trip, I felt a little frustrated. Of course people were talking to each other and laughing and having an awesome time, and I just wanted to be able to talk to them, too. Normally I’m a very friendly and sociable person, but I don’t think my personality can show at all when I am unable to say anything to anyone. A lot of times I could tell they wanted to talk to me, too. We were enthusiastic to be friends, but we couldn’t communicate. It was a very strange feeling. But even with this barrier, I was able to make friends with some people and have a great time. I was happy to be able to be with such a large group of awesome Japanese people! They were all nice to my housemate and I, and we shared a lot of laughs.