By Aaron A. Vessup
I like good adventures, but when travelling many unexpected things happen. My second real visit to Japan was a bit of a shocker. A "real" visit is not a typical 10-minute pit-stop at Narita airport heading to San Francisco, or coming from Beijing. I already had a number of such visits. Two years ago I made it a point to visit Japan and stay several days. I had never really seen Tokyo or any other parts of Japan beyond the airport. My first two-week trip to Japan had been motivated by my desire to actually see and get close-up camera shots of the famous Mt. Fuji. A suspense movie thriller, Shutter Bug, had been impetus for that trip. The movie revealed splendid views of the majestic mountain so dramatic that I scheduled a trip to Japan. However, due to weather issues I did not see Fuji. I left Japan vowing to return for a longer stint to have guaranteed success.
Early this summer, two years later, found me attracted by an online offer of a four-day trek on and around Mt. Fuji. However, there was a snag in my online booking process. When it came to the use of credit cards, goblins of technology posed a roadblock. But, I figured, heck, I could easily complete the payment process when actually in Japan. So I booked travel and hotel for Tokyo and beyond. This time I was determined to not only see elusive Fuji, but also travel to the far north of Japan as well. I had already visited western Japanese cities like Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, and Nagasaki. At the start of this new adventure, accommodations for my first night were in a part of Tokyo called Shinjuku. The city of Tokyo is very large, and the impeccably clean rail system is complicated by different systems and ownerships. Not to worry, there are a plethora of Information Centers. Digitized directional displays, even audio announcements, are common in Chinese, Japanese, and English. When walking the streets one sees signs on posts and sidewalks cautioning "No Smoking When Walking", and "Do Not Litter".
The first clue that perhaps my plan for a face-to-face with Fuji again might not happen, came during my first encounter with officials in the Shinjuku information center. "No, you are mistaken, there is no 4-Day trek of Mt. Fuji" I was told. "However, we do have a one day, four-stop, program that includes the possibility of seeing the mountain." "But please understand, we have no control over the weather." Since the Information Center officials had said I was "mistaken", being a tourist who was I to argue? I decided to take the risk and book this mountain adventure for one week later.
While waiting on weather between spit and rain showers, I checked out a Sumo Wrestling training center, and viewing elephant size humans certainly made me shudder. As a die-hard baseball fan, a highlight came watching the professional baseball Giants beat the Dragons in the Tokyo Dome stadium. Between sporting venues and museum cruising, my appetite for food variety was adequately addressed. News flash: Sushi items are not the only offerings on menus in Japan. My yen for Chinese noodles, western burgers, and Italian pastas was particularly placated.
Subsequently, traveling north to Nikko National Park I experienced the sensory delights of nature. Venturing further to the port city of Aomori, besides astounding architectural sights, travelers are rewarded with an entertaining visit to the Japanese Nebuta Museum, featuring colorful lantern characters in the Hall of Fame. These larger than life Japanese paper figures weighing up to four tons formerly paraded down main streets in the annual float competitions.
Days later, back in the south, sallying between more museums, art galleries, and parks, my adventures were capped by receiving Samurai sword training and earning a certificate. Now armed and dangerous with hilarious video proof of my prowess, I was now more than ready to meet the magic mountain, or so I thought. On the tour bus, our guide kept reminding us of the temperamental nature of the seasons, clouds, and the mountain itself. It was stressed that "if" we were "lucky" we might glimpse a fraction of the mountain. On two occasions loud cheers went up from our crowd when we were able to see Mt. Fuji's snow tip and ridges from one regional highway vantage point. These sightings lasted no longer than 30 seconds at best. And we were not getting on the mountain, nor even closer for that matter. "Be grateful!" someone said in a consoling manner.
I managed to get some mountain photo shots, but also felt a bit of a letdown. True, seeing Fuji this way was nothing like camping on one of Fuji's slopes, or riding in plane or helicopter hovering above her peaks. But hey, at least I had seen the mountain in person. And also, visits to several unique castles, temples and shrines during this adventure afforded my camera lens an adequate workout. Sculptures, architecture, and colorful media adverts were, indeed, almost more visually compelling than people watching.
Perhaps the biggest shock during this trip was the persistent, rude animals: deer in Nara Park. Warning signs in this area illustrated that reindeer often pursue, and attack humans in attempts to get handouts: food, not money. Okay, I had seen these postings, but I had not actually considered the notion that pleasant, docile, kind looking creatures could possibly become threatening. In Nara National Park, hundreds of deer are entertained routinely by tourists on expansive acres of green grass. People stroke, fondle, and photograph these new friends in close quarters. Presently, I was kneeling, fiddling with my mobile phone camera in the bright sunlight while trying to find the last few cookie treats in my pocket. Behind my back I could vaguely hear voices rising, a crowd in the background was shouting. I distinctly heard someone scream. It was only when I heard the rattling of antlers, and thud of body blows close by did I become alarmed. Turning just in time I saw two, large, male deer, dangerously close, standing on their hind legs, racks locked, front hooves pounding and pawing frantically at each other. They were struggling over turf, very close to where I was kneeling. One stag had declared that I was to be his principle feeder. Earlier he had snatched a small program booklet from my pocket in search of cookie crumbs. This deer appeared to be actually reading the typed pages.
I guess you can probably say that now I have "seen" Japan. But, I am not satisfied because I still would like to have seen more of Mt. Fuji, closer, rather than fleeting glimpses between fluffy clouds. I like high adventures, but avoiding monkeys that bite, bears that maul, and deer with hard, dangerous pointy antlers tops my list. I think now I am ready to try sleeping overnight on the Great Wall in China. Seeing the glorious sunset and sunrise is perhaps reasonably predictable, and clearly promises not to be as dangerous as Japan's National Parks. Choosing safety in adventures is always a wise choice.
1. shocker: 令人震惊的事物。
2. pit-stop: （尤指旅行中的）短暂休息，歇脚；Narita airport : 东京成田国际机场。
3. make it a point: 保证做，必定做。
4. motivate: 激励，激发；close-up: 特写照片，特写镜头；shot: 照片；Mt. Fuji: 富士山。
5. suspense movie thriller: 悬疑惊悚电影；Shutter Bug : 电影《摄影爱好者》（2009）；impetus: 动力，推动。
6. 电影展现出了这座雄伟高山的壮丽景象，令人印象深刻，于是我安排了一场日本之旅。splendid: 极好的，绝妙的；majestic: 雄伟的，壮观的；dramatic: 激动人心的，令人印象深刻的；schedule: 安排，计划。
7. vow: 发誓，立誓；stint:（做某事的）时间；guaranteed: 有保证的。
8. trek: （通常指徒步）艰难旅行，跋涉。
9. snag: 小困难，小问题。
10. goblin: （传说中的丑陋且爱捉弄人的）小妖精，丑妖怪；roadblock: 路障。
11. heck: 用以加强语气或责骂，hell的委婉语。
12. elusive: 难以得到的，难以实现的。
13. Kyoto: 京都；Hiroshima: 广岛；Yamaguchi: 山口；Nagasaki: 长崎。
14. accommodation: 住户，住所；Shinjuku: 新宿区。
15. impeccably: 无瑕疵地，无可挑剔地。
16. a plethora of: 大量的，过多的。
17. digitized: 数字化的。
18. post: 柱，杆；sidewalk: 人行道；caution: 提醒，告诫；litter: 乱扔。
19. encounter: 偶遇，邂逅；official: 官员，行政人员。
20. spit: 下毛毛细雨；shower: 阵雨；check out: 核实，查实；Sumo Wrestling: 相扑；shudder: 发抖，打颤。
21. die-hard fan: 死忠粉；highlight: 最有趣（或最精彩、最重要）的部分；Giants: 即Yomiuri Giants，读卖巨人队；Dragons: 中日龙队，与巨人队同为隶属于日本职棒中央联盟的球队；Tokyo Dome stadium: 东京巨蛋体育馆。
22. venue: （事件或活动的）发生地，举办地点；cruising: 开车兜风；appetite: 强烈欲望，渴望；adequately: 足够的，合乎需要的；address: 设法解决，处理。
23. news flash: （插播的）简明新闻；Sushi: 寿司。
24. yen: 强烈的欲望，渴望；placate: 安抚，抚慰。
25. subsequently: 随后，后来；Nikko National Park: 日光国立公园；sensory: 感官的，感觉的。
26. Aomori: 青森县（日本港市）；astounding: 令人震惊的，令人惊骇的；architectural: 建筑学的，建筑上的；entertaining: 有趣的，使人愉快的；Nebuta: 佞武多（佞武多祭是青森的民俗之一，节日期间会制作以著名历史人物等为题材的巨型花车来参加游行）；Hall of Fame: 名人堂。
27. parade: （庆祝重大日子或事件的）游行行列；float: 彩车，花车。
28. 随后几天，我回到日本南部，逛了更多的博物馆、美术馆还有公园，最终，冒险之旅以接受武士刀训练并获取证书为完满句点。sally: 出发，外出；cap: 使……结束；Samurai: 武士；sword: 剑，刀；certificate: 结业证书，合格证书。
29. armed: 使用武器的，武力的；hilarious: 引人捧腹大笑的，滑稽的；prowess: 深厚的造诣，高超的技艺。
30. temperamental: 反复无常的。
31. glimpse: 瞥见，看一眼；a fraction of: 少量，一点儿。
32. ridge: 山脊，山脉；vantage point: （便于观察的）有利位置。
33. at best: 最多，充其量。
34. consoling: 安慰的，安抚的。
35. letdown: 失望，沮丧。
36. slope: 斜坡；helicopter: 直升机；hover: 翱翔，盘旋；peak: 顶点，顶峰。
37. castle: 城堡，堡垒；temple: 庙宇，寺院；shrine: 圣祠，神庙；lens: 透镜，镜片；workout: 锻炼。
38. sculpture: 雕塑；advert: 即advertisement；compelling: 非常有趣的，很有吸引力的。
39. persistent: 执著的，不屈不挠的；Nara Park: 奈良公园。
40. illustrate: 说明，阐明；reindeer: 驯鹿；pursue: 追逐，追赶；handout: 施舍物，救济品。
41. notion: 概念，观念；docile: 温顺的，驯良的。
42. routinely: 例行地，常规地；expansive: 广阔的，辽阔的；acres of: 大量的。
43. stroke: 轻抚，抚摸；fondle: 爱抚，抚摸；in close quarters: 近距离地，近在咫尺地。
44. kneel: 跪着，跪下；fiddle with: 摆弄，拨弄；treat: 特意买的东西。
45. vaguely: 含糊地，不确切地。
46. 当我听到鹿角的咯咯声和身体的撞击声时，我才警觉起来。rattling: 碰撞声，咯咯声；antler: 鹿角；thud: 砰的一声，轰的一声；alarmed: 惊恐的，忧虑的。
47. hind: （动物的腿）后面的，后部的；rack: （鹿等的）一对叉角；hoof: 蹄；pound: 用力击打，连续砰砰地猛击；paw: 挠，抓；frantically: 疯狂地，狂躁地。
48. turf: 草皮。
49. stag: 雄鹿。
50. snatch: 强抢，夺走；booklet: 小册子；crumb: 食物碎屑。
51.可是，我还是不满足，我还想多看看富士山，再近一点看，而不是在浮云间匆匆瞥几眼。fleeting: 短暂的，飞逝的；fluffy: 松软的，蓬松的。
52. maul: 袭击，严重伤害。
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