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One traveller's day-by-day account of a year-long journey through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada

Unfortunately Fuji-san was out of season to climb, but I was dying to see it. The first glimpse was on the train winding its way up through the mountains. It was immense - although partially covered by cloud and mist. I checked into a hotel on the far side of Kawaguchiko, one of the 5 lakes dotted around Mt Fuji - it had a special backpacker rate, an ensuite bathroom w/bath, and a view of Mt Fuji from your room. Not bad - but I was a bit disappointed to find the bath was only about 4 feet long and about as deep (maybe you were supposed to sit in there cross-legged?), and there was a tree obscuring my view of Fuji-san.

I then set out to explore the lake area and get some food. I took an especially scenic route (I got lost) and as it got dark, the comfortable 2 degrees it was earlier dropped to well below freezing. I'd been walking for an hour and a half, and I was cold and starving. Luckily, I eventually found a traditional Japanese pub (Izakaya), and, too desperate to be concerned about language barriers, I went in. With a combination of some key words (please, thank-you, beer) and pointing at the picture menu, I enjoyed a comfy, warm evening in a traditional Japanese place to quaff back some Asahi. As for the food... well, I couldn't tell you, but I'm taking pictures of everything I eat so my Japanese friend Tak can tell me what the hell they are!