Diary - August

Wednesday 1st August
Day 171

Park bench to the Tokyo Hilton

Tom - "A very comfortable nights sleep on the floor was cut short as we had to speak to a journalist called Mr Miura from the Kyodo news agency (the Reuters of Japan). The interview went well despite the fact that the coffees in the Keio Plaza café cost a staggering £6 (he paid of course!) We then went for lunch in a very narrow alley full of noodle bars. Mr Miura once again kindly paid.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting to Angie about an NGO called Go-Mad that she has set up. This NGO puts people who want to do voluntary work during their holidays in touch with organisations who need help.

In the evening we met up with two guys we had met on Tuesday night called Rick and Ryan in the Tokyo Hilton executive lounge (free food and drinks). We had told them what we were doing and they said they really wanted to do something. Rick looked me in the eye and said “So, how can we help you?”. I told him about the charity and how we needed to raise $30,000. “Ok, but how can we help YOU?” he said. I told him about the charity again and he asked the same question again.

In the end Paul cut in and told him how we had nowhere to stay and that we had planned to sleep rough on a park bench. Rick walked out of the lounge and 5 minutes later came back with keys to a room in the Hilton! Things like this blow my mind and have really taught me so much about generosity and helping people in need. Thank you Rick and Ryan!

We left the lounge in search of a good place to eat. We went back to the alley we had been to in the morning, as we wanted to show the guys a real Japanese eatery. After that we went to the Irish pub and played a drinking game which involved flicking a coin into a shot glass. I was terrible at this and I have to admit to being a little the worse for wear at the end of the night… foolish boy."#

(I received this comment after adding Tom's 'recollections' of the day to the site - ed)

Paul - 'a little the worse for wear' - Tom was off his head and cannot remember the last hour/hour and a half of the time in the pub. He cannot remember nicking someone's beer mat from right under their nose and their drink so as to protect the top of his glass from flying coins (part of one of the games). He can also not remember me coming into the bathroom to find out if he was still alive!

Thursday 2nd August
Day 172

British Council

Paul – "Our room at the Hilton was so comfy we didn’t get going this morning until 11:00am. Ah well, we have had late nights since our night on the ferry so it was lovely to actually get some sleep. The day picked up from there though. Once inside the British Council we got down to some serious administrative work.

The afternoon quietly slipped by as we wrote up these diary entries, adapted our leaflet for JET Conference No.2, developed a whole load of catchy posters for the conference and answered the trek-related emails.

Miki (our initial contact in the British Council) pulled strings for us and got us access to British Council computers and to Ryoko, the British Council Press Officer. Ryoko promptly got us an interview with the Ashai Shinbun (Japan’s equivalent to the Times!) for the following day.

Tom, Ben and Paul with Thom and his father, TerryHappy with the work completed we enjoyed a chilled evening with Thom and his Dad, thoroughly enjoying showing them round our Hilton room. Tonight we experienced Welsh generosity – Terry (Thom’s Dad) took us out for dinner.

People are often telling us what a brilliant thing it is that we are doing, what, how altruistic we are. Most of the time (especially this week) it feels that we are given, and take, so much more than we give. Given so much more than we will ever be able to repay. Thank you seems so inadequate sometimes. If we do get round to writing a book we will need a full chapter of acknowledgements. It is an incredible and humbling life we are leading!"

The team join John Kabira on the Breakfast ShowFriday 3rd August
Day 173

Media Circus

Paul – "It is a huge privilege to be interviewed on a major Radio Station (J-Wave) during the Breakfast Show but it does mean getting up early. It took an unpleasant 5:00am start to get there on time. 15mins of live prime time chat. Thank you J-Wave. I think we did ok, hard to say though really, I have never spoken to 3 million people before! (You can decide for yourself by going to the J-Wave website. Go to the second section on the left of the page - labelled 'Check & Check 7:15-7:25' and you will be able to hear the interview for yourself. Click here to go - ed)

Unlike yesterday we were at the Council before it opened today, still didn’t get out until after 5:00pm though. The morning saw more diary writing, more trek emails, some gear reviewing and a whole load of leaflet copying (thanks Miki).

The afternoon was dominated by a long, and detailed, interview by Asako Miyasaka from Asahi Shimbun. Asako very kindly donated to the charity before she left, and gave us some money for food after hearing how much we live off each day! We are hoping for a good write-up.

Ryan and Ben  - the clownsThis evening we partied with Ric and Ryan at a club so well known it is written about in the Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo. Bill Hersey was very much for real and his club is graced by the rich and the beautiful. We mingled with royalty, racecar drivers, and a multitude of models – girls with the insanely skinny bodies that fill magazines do really exist!

Ben and Ryan (the hardcore among us) danced till 5:00am, just about enough time for Ryan to finally realise that the models were there to be seen and not much else!"

JUST A NOTE ON ALL THE HITCHING AND TRAIN JOURNEYS.

Some people have contacted us asking if we are still walking the entire distance, as they have got lost in our mass of hitching and public transporting. Yes, we are still walking everywhere. However the need to get Visas and promote the trek at this time has meant a brief break in the walk. We are going back to Yatsu-ga-take after our stay in Tokyo, to pick up where we left off. Never fear. We will walk every metre!

Saturday 4th August
Day 174

Jazz Club - nice

Tom - After a night of dancing till late none of us felt like getting up before 12 but we had arranged to meet a lady called Kanae (who had arranged both our interviews on J-Wave) for lunch. Over lunch we discussed ways to get publicity and raise money for landmine clearance. At the end of the meal she kindly paid the bill and offered to contact NHK (Japan's main TV station) and the UN offices in Tokyo to see if they could help our cause. After the meal Ben collapsed back into his bed, whilst Paul and I headed off to the British Council to finish off the diary pages and to send a few more emails.

Ben, Tom, Ryan Paul and Rick enjoy themselvesIn the evening we met up with Rick and Ryan for a gorgeous Italian meal, as Rick is a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to Italian food and wine. The food was good, but it was even better to sit and chat about anything and everything, from politics to fast cars. At the end of the meal Rick took over the bar and made all of the barmen and us B52's (a cocktail). The rest of the night was spent continuing our conversations in the Hilton's bar where a Jazz band (with a HUGE Samoan guitarist) played till the early hours.

Sunday 5th August
Day 175

Church at last!

Tom - We had hoped to get to church a couple of times a month during this walk but with churches being fairly uncommon in Japan and our Sundays often spent in the wilds we hadn't been able to make it once! Fortunately being a Christian isn't just about going to church and we've been able to pray together as a team and see our faith grow as God has guided and protected us. However this Sunday provided me with a chance to get to a church where my parents had worked.

Tom and some of the members of the churchThe lads stayed at the Hilton and caught up on some much-needed sleep. I headed off to the church in Ichikawa (East of Tokyo). Getting off at the station and walking into the church took me back 8 years to when I had spend a hot summer there before my A-levels. After the service I chatted to a number of people I remembered including Ms Asai-san. I was allowed to speak a little about the walk and the charity. When I left the members of the church had kindly donated over 50,000 yen to the charity. I would like to thank all the people I met for their support both financially and in prayer.

Whilst I was at church Paul and Ben had been out to a Chinese restaurant where Rick and Ryan had become heroes with the cook (due to the vast amounts of food they had ordered on their two previous visits). When I got back Ben was acting a little nervous, which I soon discovered was due to the imminent arrival of his girlfriend Danielle (who has started on the JET programme this year). He tried to ease his nerves with a game of tennis but judging by the number of double faults that he made it didn't help!

Ryan, Tom, Ben, Rick and Paul dineThis was Rick and Ryan's last night in Tokyo and we set out to the Italian restaurant again, this time with Rachel (from Nagano) who was in Tokyo on her way to the UK, and Danielle. After the meal we all headed back to Rick and Ryan's room, where I collapsed on the bed and the guys chatted till the early hours. At 2am Paul, Rachel and I (Ben stayed up chatting till 5am) headed over to the Keio Plaza as we had arranged to stay in a room with two guys called Duncan and Matt. Needless to say it was a very tight squeeze!

Monday 6th August
Day 176

Ryan and RickGoodbye Richard and Ryan.

Ben - The Hilton suddenly felt less like home as we waved Rick and Ryan off. Once again we had been the recipients of love and kindness from two guys who started out as total strangers to us and who now left as our friends. I have to admit that I struggle at time to believe that altruism can truly exist between people, but more and more I am experiencing at first hand people caring for me and I can see no reason for them to be doing it other than goodness. It is a beautiful and powerful thing that is happening and it is changing the idea of the world that I have in my head. I suppose it is also changing the person I am and want to be - I would love to give someone else the kind of inspiration and encouragement I have received from new friends, at which point I am reminded of a quote on friends:

"I keep my friends as misers do their treasure, for of all things granted us by wisdom friendship is the greatest."

I am now all mused out and will just get on with the day…! The afternoon flew by, as we were crammed into a small room full of tables set up like our own with people vying for the attention of the new Jets. We spoke to many and got very hot. By the end of the day I was glad that the next day's fair was more spacious. Just as we were leaving to go out for a meal with Miki (wonderful woman - friend - from the British Council) I bumped into a friend of mine that I have not seen for 4 years. Katherine, or Jath, last saw me when I was fired from our place of work in the Lake District, and now she had found her way on to the Jet scheme and was looking at me thinking, "who is the guy with the huge hair?" It would seem that my mock Afro was a cunning disguise as well as an insulator and so I had to divulge my identity as we both tried to comprehend the big small world that we co-habit.

Our meal was great, we ate with a load of people from the British Council (and an Irish guy called Paul who I randomnly invited and proved great company) in a restaurant on the 40th floor of a big tall building!

Tuesday 7th August
Day 177

Paul and Ben talk to the JETsRound 2 at the Jet conference

Ben - We met up in the morning having spent the night on various peoples hotel room floors and drew straws to see who would go and finish our emailing. Tom was the victim of the short straw and headed off to start tapping the keys. Paul and I remained in the Hotel and prepared for the 2nd round of the fair. There were two different times for Jets to come and visit the fair and Tom was back in time for the second. I left slightly early to try and spend some time with Danielle. Paul later went out to meet Thom (our post box and co-ordinator general in Tokyo) and Tom watched a movie in someone's hotel room.

Wednesday 8th August
Day 178

We'll Take Our Case to the UN!

Paul - Our morning meeting with the UNIC (UN information centre - the meeting was set up for us by Kanae our contact in J-Wave) had a very stilted start. They were unsure of us and what we wanted from them, and we were unsure what they could do for us, or why we were there. By the time we left however (3:00ish), they had put us in contact with the most active Japanese NGO as far as de-mining is concerned, had got us an interview with the big cheeses in the Rotary Club for the following day, had taken us out to McDonalds for lunch and sent us away with loads of freeze dried soups! Once again people we have never met before going above and beyond on our behalf.

We also heard this afternoon that Snugpak were going to give us lightweight sleeping bags for this hot summer. Thank you Snugpak. (see sponsors page for link)

I saw some pictures of those effected by landmines today, and began to realise afresh why we are doing what we are doing. Sometimes it is hard to focus on anything other than aching legs, sweaty back and the 20 odd km that still have to be walked that day.

Thursday 9th August
Day 179

It Makes Sense Really.

Paul - Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) is a Japanese NGO that already has a de-mining campaign underway. As things stand AAR are unable to give us any assistance as they are involved in raising money for the HALO Trust and we are walking for Adopt-A-Minefield (AAM).

We have thought for a long time that so much more money could be raised for de-mining in Japan if we were walking for a Japanese Charity or Japanese organisation. (For those thinking of doing a charity anything in a foreign country, we would recommend doing whatever you are doing for a charity in that country.) Consequently we talked over the
possibility of raising money for AAR over here and AAM everywhere else.

It does make sense really, we want to raise money for de-mining, and AAM have given us a chance to do so through them, but we could raise more money over all if what we raise out here as we walk were to go to AAR over here.

Basically all money pledged or given to us already would go to AAM. Any money given to us in Japan from now on would go to AAR. Any money raised anywhere else from now on would still go to AAM.

Anyway, discussions go on, nothing has changed, and we'll keep you informed.

Our meeting with the Rotary Club was fairly rushed but Osa-san (our UN contact) and Tom introduced us to the National meeting and we left having been fed and given a lot of contact details for members in various kens (counties) we will be walking through on our way north. We shall see where that leads.

Friday 10th August
Day 180 - 2km

Escape from Tokyo

Travelling againTom - When we first came to Tokyo we had planned to leave on the 7th or 8th. I was getting itchy feet and it was a huge relief to know we would finally be leaving Tokyo. We left Thom's at about 9.30am, caught a train to Hachioji (north west of Tokyo), and walked to a good hitching spot. Within 15 minutes a smallish car pulled over driven by a 70-year-old lady. She was driving right past where we wanted to go and offered to drop us of at the exact place we had hitched from over 3 weeks ago (it felt like ages ago…). We all managed to squeeze in and after an hour or two of chatting (she turned out to be a taxi driver) we climbed out of the car and waved her goodbye.

After about a 2km walk we came to a gazebo where we took shelter from the rain. After cooking some noodles the lady had given us, we spent our first night in the great outdoors for a long time…

Saturday 11th August
Day 181 - 33km

Sizzling steaks

Tom - It felt good to be walking again but we had definitely got a bit soft during our stay in Tokyo. Our tans had gone, Ben's and my gut had got bigger and we had all lost definition in our legs.

The walk took us past the highest bit of rail track in Japan (+1300m) and acres and acres of lettuce fields. We had planned to walk to the top of a huge pass (2200m) but on our way up an elderly man (Mr Sato) stopped us and insisted we stop and stay at his house for the night.

Mr Sato discusses routes with tomWe took him up on his offer and found he lived with his older sister in a big house surrounded by forest. The house was also a home to no less than 15 cats! He had seen us on the road earlier that day and had bought us each a beautiful steak that we cooked over a wood burning stove in a hut at the back of his house. He told us about his life, how he and his sister (Fujiko) had moved from Tokyo to the mountains over 10 years ago and his interest in painting and pottery. After the steak Fujiko cooked us some delicious pasta and laid out bedding for us to sleep on in the spare room. Once again we experience mind-blowing generosity…

Kinpu zan (Mt No 57 - 2598m)
Mizugaki zan (Mt No 58 - 2230m)

Sunday 12th August
Day 182 - 37km

(Why do they do it?)

Mt Kinpu zan - the first peak of the dayBen - Getting out of my futon this morning was not an easy task, and by the time I made it to Kazumi's hut Tom had the scrambled eggs cooked and the porridge well on the way to readiness.

It took us about 4 hours to walk to the trail head during which time we were stopped twice to see if we would like lifts. The first lady upon hearing we couldn't accept lifts because we were walking for charity gave us 120,000 yen (about 120 quid) and then drove off. The second person actually drove past tom and then came back to see about a lift, he also gave money to the charity and some sweets for us. Continually I have to search for the real reason why people are so accepting of 'who' we are and what we are doing, I am stunned.

The second peak Mt Mizugaki zanAt the trail we prepared our selves for a late one. We wanted 2 peaks and we would not finish until about 11:30pm…almost 5 hours later than normal. This area is reputed to have some of Japan's best rock climbing so I was particularly upset to have to rush these mountains, and in areas the rocky outcrops were mightily impressive.

As the day drew on Japanese walkers began to enquire of our intentions but we refrained from telling our whole plan of finding our way down with head torches. For the most part these walkers end the day at 4pm with a cool beer in a well kitted out mountain hut, and thoughts after that time of walking and climbing are 'very dangerous indeed', at home I have often not even started a camping trip until after 4pm! By midnight we were tucked up in bed having only managed a banana for our meal.

Kobushi dake (Mt No 59 - 2475m)
Kobushi dakeMonday 13th August
Day 183 - 16km

Ben - We took the chance at breakfast to catch up on last night's meal, curry and rice at 5am is not as bad as it sounds! Walking up and down a lot on an impressive ridge attained today's peak. For the most part it was covered in woodland not too dissimilar to that in the UK, and that made for a pleasant day that wasn't nearly as energy demanding as yesterday's peaks. The heat though was a hassle and we all dripped sweat throughout the day. We stopped for the night in a hut that we shared with a father and sons' trio.

Tuesday 14th August
Day 184 - 20km

A Bit of a Break.

Paul - Talking, tone, point of view, non-verbals, attitude, state of mind, engagement of brain, all these things are part of communication and if the mix is not right everyone can be left feeling bemused, hurt, sad or disillusioned. This morning a no brain comment was made and was commented on. The comment's tone was incorrectly received and a discussion/argument flared. Ben spent the morning reanalysing why on earth he was here. I spent the morning feeling silly and trying not to think anything. This walk is teaching me so much about myself and living with others, hopefully some of these lessons will stick with me when the walk is done.

By 1:00pm we were sat in a Rd side gazebo less than a km away from the trailhead to Mt. 60. At the very best it would be a hard 6hr climb. None of us were up for another head torch finish, and we are not totally insane so we took the afternoon off. Had a swim in the river, shot at horse flies, rocks and each other with Ben's BB gun, wrote up our logs, in general had a bit of a rest after a hard couple of days in the hills.

Towards evening a family holidaying in a house above the river brought us some fried chicken and fried pumpkin and had a chat - these things just seem to happen in Japan. It rained in the evening, the cooker was working at about 30% but we'd had an afternoon off and were happy. The conflict of this morning forgotten, replaced on my part by the much easier complaint to handle of being shot in the head by Ben and his BB gun.

Kyokami-yamma (Mt No.60 - 1723m)
Wednesday 15th August
Day 187 - 26km

It is still dark at 4:30am these days. Getting up at that time is now even more grim than it was! Carrying only an extra layer, some food and some water we were on the trail for Kyokami by 6:00am. None of us are all that good at talking in the morning - especially not at that time - so it was a silent, well spaced group that sweated up the first brutally steep section of the climb.A horse fly the size of a small bird was my only real company climbing up through the mist and thick forest.

Every now and then I caught a glimpse of Ben's back, Tom, on a mission for speed that day, was rarely seen throughout the climb. The guy is truely a machine sometimes, he flew up this climb, which was a steep as anything we had experienced in all the Alps, as if it were basically flat. He was walking so quick that twice on the ridge (which continued the brutallity of the climb to the ridge with constant steep ups and downs) he zipped straight off the path and into the bush in an apparent effort to force a new route to the summit or somewhere.

Hot and sweaty at the top of  Kyokami-yammaWe saw no one else throughout the climb which was probably just as well as we didn't present the nicest spectacle. The weather was heavy and still. By the summit we were able to wring sweat out of our shirts!

Tom had stated that the climb could be done in 6hrs yesterday and after a half hour stop on the summit (which hadn't been included in yesturday's estimations) he bounded off to prove himself right. 6hrs after starting out (5.5hrs of climbing) he was back at our river having a swim and waiting for Ben and I who were happy to be slightly slower.

Ben and I chatted all the way back down to the river. High on the agenda were the team dynamics we are experiencing at the moment. It was this morning that I discovered how much our little fracas yesterday had got him re-analysing what he is doing here. There is a lot of petty argument, a lot of trying - in little ways - to get one over on someone else. A feeling of wanting to take rather than give. In emotions, conversations and, of course, food! We all know it but that doesn't make it any easier to change.

Saying all that though, we had a lovely team moment after Ben and I got back to the river. A family that Tom had been chatting to as he waited for us, came back down to the beach with three beers! We had a very pleasent few minutes just sat in the sun sipping beer and getting our own back on horse flys with Ben's BB gun.

The afternoon was spent trekking down a beautiful valley enjoying the scene of many many families enjoying the public holiday and the river. Our mood was a little darkened by the poorness of our Rd map which failed to mark about 3 major roads, marked a road that wasn't there and told us nothing of a 1.5km slip road we would need to take to get on to our desired road. Ah well.

After shopping in a very small village shop we pitched our tents in a small concrete layby just down a little road from a concrete factory. Not as nasty as it sounds and after a very tasty meal we settled down for bed. Ben shot me in the neck tonight. Maybe it was something I said?

Mt Kumotori (Mt No. 61 - 2017m)
Thursday 16th August
Day 186 - 19km

The team with Mat at the top of Mt Kumotori Tom - After a damp night on the concrete siding we headed off to our next peak, Mt. Kumotori (which means cloud catcher).

After passing an enormous dam we got to a trail that would take us to a temple at the base of the mountain. We stopped for a break at the temple feeling like our legs might not be up to the task of yet another mountain. On our way up we met a fellow Brit called Mat. We chatted all the way up about places we knew back home and shared climbing stories. We reached the top just before 4 and caught a good view for a few minutes before the mountain again lived up to it's name.

After a team discussion we decided to cut the day short and stay at an emergency hut near the summit with Mat. Over dinner Mat showed us some of the most amazing camping gadgets I've ever seen. They included two piece chopsticks (they screw together), a miniature camping espresso maker, and minute head torch.

Friday 17th August
Day 187 - 25.5km

A dip in a river

Tom - I slept well until one of the other hikers (Mr. Kim) in the hut found a mouse in his breakfast bag. The trashing, banging, stamping, pounding and bashing that ensued lead the deer in the surrounding woodland to let out a chorus of high pitched barks which continued for the next half an hour. In the morning I got my revenge however as I dropped our cooking pans at 4.30am.

After saying bye to Mat and Mr Kim we set off down the mountain into a village where we bought food for the next day. We spent the next hour trying to find a trail that would cut a couple of km off our walk only to find it was overgrown and impassable. The next two hours took us over a small pass but the temperature meant that we sweated buckets and once on the other side were in desperate need of a wash. We found a beautiful pool and stopped for lunch and a swim/wash.

After another hours walking we reached the trailhead. The path took us through thick pine forest. My legs still had bags of energy and I powered up the hill faster than I had done during any point of the walk. At 5pm we stopped at a saddle on the ridge and decided to leave the summit for tomorrow as it was a truly gorgeous campsite with a spring nearby.

Daibotsu dake (Mt No 62 - 2075m)
Satuday 18th August
Day 188 - 42km

At the top of Daibotsu dakeBen - In a team chat last night I had urged that we should aim for a bit more routine on our getting up and going to bed, and so this morning we all rose together at 5:30am. Within about an hour we were headed for peak 62, that we reached quickly and without too much effort.

The drizzly rain dissipated as we reached the road and made our way through Yamanashi Ken, which seems to be Japan's peach growing capital. Walking the hot roads back towards Fuji was difficult due to the bulbous juicy fruits that beamed at us from trees just a few feet from the pavement. To ease the pain Paul and Tom recommended the Gypsy Kings - I now more than ever await the Mini disc's that my brother promised over 10 months ago!

Sunday 19th August
Day 189 - 50 kilometres

that has got to hurt.

More walking for PaulBen - 'This is it boys, today is the day that we do our first 50km day'

We were not lying either. We wanted to reach Fujinomiya where we should be able to meet up with a Jet who emailed us months ago. First we crossed the mountains that lay in front of Mount Fuji which took what seemed like an age. The walking was hot and slow, once over the pass we started to make better time.

All day long Hordes of Harley Davidson Bikers streamed past us. One guy with his son on a little Vespa (stylish scooter from Italy) got talking to Tom and explained that there was an annual Harley meeting taking place and he was on his way there. Tom quizzed the guy on his lack of Harley and he replied that his little son didn't like riding with his Dad on the Harley, so the scooter it was.

We walked all day on the same road and at 7pm were escorted off by the police who said we shouldn't be walking here…whoops! As it turns out our mammoth efforts to achieve 50 kms had worked, but to what avail? The Jet we had wanted to meet was out and so we heroically limped into the woods to camp, and I topped up on my all over insect bite induced tan!

Monday 20th August
Day 190 - 33km

A Dip in the Sea.

Paul - Could feel yesterday's 50km all day, could feel it in tight calf and hamstring muscles, sore hips and the odd ache in each knee. Feel in the raw patches on each foot and stiff shoulders. So we can do the large km days but it still hurts!

This morning's walking sucked. It started from a bad sleep (woke often, feeling filthy, feeling sweaty even when cold simply from excess sweat congealing on my skin) and carried us through the grotty part of a city and down a whole load of strip. My body was sore and I just felt annoyed at the world in general. I flipped at the lads, haven't got a clue how they found the morning and was very glad we spent most of the morning in our own little worlds.

Ben proudly dispays his 7-11 haulAt lunchtime the day changed totally as far as I was concerned, we climbed a sea wall and saw the blue sea stretching in front of us. There was a breeze, the sound of cars faded and my mind calmed down. While eating a lunch that would have cost over 700yen I finally realised how wonderful Ben's find behind 7/11 actually was.

His sharp eyes had followed the poor unsuspecting 7/11 worker as she dumped a whole load of pretty much out of date food by the bins. It didn't stay there long and we ate for free all day!

Following a dip in the beautiful sea we spent the afternoon walking down the sea wall. The singing of a sea breeze and the crash of waves replaced the noise of cars. The sun was out and life was much happier. That evening we camped by a river that ran through the middle of Numazu City. We would have utilised the cover of a bridge but all the spots were taken. There are homeless people in Japan outside of Tokyo.

Tuesday 21st August
Day 191 - 36km

Rain.

Paul - We'd been warned about a typhoon arriving today. We were hoping for some wild winds, some cars rolling by, a bit of madness, an adventure. We got rain. (It started before 10:00am and didn't end until around 1:00pm on Wednesday.)

It rained, we walked, we got wet, we got some very funny looks. We were such a sorry sight one lady, who must have driven by and seen us, drove back to us and handed each of us an umbrella. It is little things like that which put a smile on your face even on days like today. Fortunately it wasn't cold and there wasn't much wind. It probably rained more than it had in the Northan Alps but the Alps felt worse because of the wind driving it into you.

For lunch we sat huddled beneath a bit of roof eating sandwiches (its nice being able to buy food each day - no GORP). The evening found us high on our next mountain pitching our tents on a patch of gravel that seemed to be draining well - it wasn't flooded at least. We'd had to persuade one passing farmer that we would be ok even though it was raining. We told him we were experienced walkers. Well we are! He drove off saying that that is what they all say! Dinner was eaten under umbrellas. By 7:00pm we were settling down to sleep - there wasn't much else to do. It was still raining.

Mt Amagi (Mt No. 63 - 1406m)
Wednesday 22nd August
Day 192 - 35km

Tom and Paul, a little soggyTom - The rain hammered down on the tent all night but the new flysheet Terra Nova (see sponsors page) had sent us did a great job of keeping most of the water out. I had to force myself out of the tent to cook breakfast, and after stuffing a sodden kit into our bags we set off up the track to the trailhead.

The rain had turned all the paths into miniature raging torrents and it was a very soggy trek up to the peak. After taking some proof shots with our umbrellas we headed down the other side of the mountain. After crossing some pretty hairy rivers in flood we got to a road and found shelter under the eves of a toilet block where we ate lunch.

As we headed down the road the weather began to improve and pretty soon we were in blazing sunshine. We stripped our waterproofs off, put our sandals on and started the drying process in preparation for arriving at Thom's. Unfortunately smell does not vanish as easily as water… We got into Ito City in time to see an amazing sunset. After grabbing some provisions we caught a train to Machida and crawled into Thom's at 10.30pm exhausted and in need of sleep.

Thursday 23rd August
Day 193

Sleeping beauties!

Tom - We all slept pretty late but none later than Paul who was out on the balcony and only woke when I gave his leg hairs a good yank at 10am. Paul however was not the only sleeping beauty. We have been given 3 Softie-3 sleeping bags from Snugpack (see sponsors page for link). These bags are lighter and smaller than our down bags and will be more suitable for the wetter warmer summer months. We expect to use these until we get to Hokkaido.

After our lie-in, we made and ate a mountain of pancakes, washed our cloths and set off to the British Council where we wrote some emails and typed up the diary updates. After all this work Ben headed off to see Danielle and Paul and I checked into the Machida Hilton (Thom's).

FUND RAISING IN JAPAN

We would just like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who are following what we are doing here in Japan, your support of us and of our efforts to raise money to clear mines is invaluable.

We would like to give you an update specifically on how the fund raising and mine awareness in Japan is going. To date we have raised 200,000 Yen or £1,200 in Japan and, although this is good, we have been thinking about ways to improve. Our recent stay in Tokyo to promote the trek put us in touch with an NGO called AAR (Association for Aid and Relief) - (you can see their website at www.aarjapan.gr.jp). Their work in Japan includes the raising of money that goes directly to the HALO Trust who use it for mine clearence and victim assistance, currently in Afghanistan.

We are still collecting money for Adopt-A-Minefield(UK) in the UK, but money raised here in Japan will from September go to this Japanese based organisation - AAR. All money raised in Japan previously will continue to go to Adopt-A-Minefield(UK) as it was originally pledged to do.

Sending donations from Japan to a Japanese charity will make it far easier for Japanese contributors to see what their donations are achieving. Furthermore, we will be linking in with a campaign that is already underway. The Japanese people have heard about it before and this increases our credibility as fund raisers.

Whichever way the money goes, we see it as achieving the same goal, to aid in the elimination of landmines and the support of landmine victims.

Friday 24th August
Day 194

Charity Work

A cello player at the cartoon exhibitionPaul - We had thought today would only be a couple of hours work. Should have known better. Today was the day we publicly announced our intention to walk for AAR (Association for Aid and Relief) in Japan and it took all day. We went to an exhibition of cartoons about the landmine crisis from around the world, where we addressed two audiences, introducing ourselves and Tom explained in Japanese what we were doing and why. He made it clear how people can get involved in landmine clearance through support of our trek. Back at the AAR office we picked up our flag (to display on top of mountains) and T-shirts.

The attendance numbers were not huge but we are now official. For me the exhibition helped to once again open my mind to why we are doing this trek. In a tiny way we, and loads of folks through our walk, are able to do something about getting rid of these mines that cause so much grief so long after the armies have left.

Saturday 25th August
Day 195

Contactable again

Paul - Today was meant to be our day off. Ben, the sensible one, dumped me and Tom and spent the day with Danielle. Tom and I ran around doing stuff; buying a new mobile phone, sorting out a package going back to Britain, answering team emails, and I had to write a diary day I had somehow forgotten on Thursday.

Ah well, it was a useful day and we are now the proud owners of what must be on of the most ugly phones on the market!

The day picked up dramatically in the evening. Thom treated me and Tom to a delicious frappachinno, then took us and his girl friend for an equally delicious meal. He is just a wonderful guy, although it has to be said that he later tarnished my impression of him by slaughtering me at a game I had taught him the night before!

Coasting alongSunday 26th August
Day 196 - 24 km

Ito and onward

Ben - Our original plan had been to leave Tokyo, but I am never one to complain when I get to spend more time in the company of my beloved and that's just what happened when we decided to head back to Ito this morning. It is starting to feel like actually passing Tokyo is an impossibly and in fact all our time will be consumed by the big city. Never the less we are back on the road by lunch time and we walked the coastline until quite late at night in an effort to draw ourselves closer to Tokyo. We stopped in a roadside park and slept out in the open, it was a hot and uncomfortable night and as is becoming all too common the Mozzies feasted on me while Tom and Paul didn't need to give any blood at all!

Monday 27th August
A fellow seeker of monastic hospitalityDay 197 - 41.5 km

Temple near the trail

Ben - Another long and late day gave Paul 's feet grief as he battled to break in his new sandals. Walking past families lazy doing nothing on the beach gets a bit tedious after a while, so I was glad of the change in scenery as we headed inland. It was past dark when we found a beautiful Buddhist temple to stop at. The large and beautifully carved roof hung over the wide wooden terrace around the sides of the building that became out bunk for the night. I started cooking dinner, but Tom took over after I managed to burn the instep of my foot on the cooker...and hobbled off to find some cold water, and a bar of soap to rinse my mouth out!! (My language was a tad colourful at the time of injury).

Mt. Tanazawa (Mt. No. 64 - 1567m (higher peak:1672m))
Tuesday 28th August
Day 198 - 41km

The team raise AAR's flag atop Mt TanazawaTom - All of us slept like babies, although I had dreams of angry monks chasing us off with sticks. As we packed a group of children started sweeping leaves from the temple courtyard. Once finished they did exercises in time to music blaring from a cassette player.

We had a mile and a half of road walking before we reached the trail. The path was slippery and would have been a nightmare to climb in the rain. Once on the ridge we were unsure which was the official summit, so we asked an elderly climber if he knew. He told us he had climbed on this mountain 270 times! We could not have asked a better person for advice. On the peak we took the customary proof shot, only this time with the AAR flag.

On the way down we took a wrong turning so we had to trail back up to the ridge. There was no water on this mountain and we were all gasping by he time we hit the road. We headed back down to the valley, collecting some kit we had left at the temple on the way. There were no shops open to buy food so the golden arches of MacDonald's beckoned us, and we wolfed down a Mexican burger each. The night was spent under a gazeebo next to a sand pit.

Wednesday 29th August
Day 199 - 43.5 km

Tokyo here we come

One of the trek's younger supporter's with BenTom - We woke to find a dog walkers convention going on in the park. One dog that caught my eye was a Corgi with exceptional ball skills. We had no food for breakfast so decided to find a supermarket on the way...we didn't find one until 10:30 am by which time we were starving, (don't forget we get up at 5:30 am). The walking was incredibly dull and we remained on route 246 all day. As we walked the sign posts were for places like Shinjuku (the sky scaper district). By 6 we were ready to stop and we boarded a train to Machida. Once there we washed clothes, and chatted with Thom, Siobhan and Danielle (Ben's girlfriend).

Thursday 30th August
Day 200- 22.5 km

Tokyo by storm?!

Trying to promote AAR in TokyoPaul - I felt gloomy this morning as we left Thom's for what should be the last time. Bell court had really started to feel like home - a fact that gave Siobhan a little concern!

I am not sure what we expected from today, the day we finally walked through the centre of TOKYO. Our presence in the city was to be closely followed by J-Wave (Tokyo's biggest and best radio station) but we are not sure if this happened. Any way suffice it to say that the drunk student asleep in the middle of Shinjuku drew more attention than we three bearing our flag. Ah well, it was fun walking through the sky scratchers, and marvel again at having had a room in the Hilton. We have broad shoulders, fame is not why we are here, so after meeting up with Dan we went and had a decent meal.

The team and Danielle have a bite to eatDan and Ben - Ah!By 4:00 pm we'd walked past the Emperor's Palace and made it to central Tokyo, which is all about men in suits and is less lively than Shinjuku. We said goodbye to Danielle and were told by the Pikes (a missionary family in Tokyo) that we couldn't change our plans to stay with them tonight. I was totally happy to obey, my legs were sore and tired of city walking. Before going to the Pikes we popped into the immigration office to see about extending our visa's now, however they closed the door in our faces as we arrived.

A funny day, short but tiring, for me anyway, but it ended with some wonderful hospitality at the Pikes and really comfy futons.

Friday 31st August
Day 201 - 35 km

Eat as much as you want...and then some

Tom at home with the PikesPaul - Today started really well, genuine cooked breakfast 'a la Ma' Pike'. It also ended well with us sat in a Tabahodi (eat as much as you want) restaurant that we just could not walk past. Well the day didn't quite end there. To make sure we got our moneys worth we left with some food In tents againwe'd cooked and that our bags had eaten, and then walked another two hours putting us on the other side of Tokyo. Two and a half days walking to get us right across the largest city in the world!

Released from our deadlines we now have nowhere to be at specific times and that just means less pressure. Plenty of chat helped the concrete jungle, noisy roads and frustrating cyclists pass by without stress or pain. That night we camped in a river basin with a real feeling of being back in the country.

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