I am in Japan, on behalf of the Open Spaces Society, for the 14th global conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, which is being held at the foot of Mount Fuji. I travelled with John Powell and Chris Short from the University of Gloucestershire Countryside and Community Research Unit.
We arrived at Narita airport at 9.30 on 30 May 2013 and took the Narita Express to Tokyo.
The train arrived a few minutes early and was given a thorough cleaning inside. As it was turning around at this point the seats were swivelled round to face the direction of travel.
Tokyo station is fairly chaotic. We had to find the bus station and the bus to the Fuji area, which was not easy. When at last we did find it we discovered that the next bus was not for two hours. We managed to work out how to put the bags in left luggage and wandered out into the grey Tokyo morning.
It did not take us long to find a park, Hibiya-Koen, with stunted trees and chattering birds which looked and sounded much like tree sparrows. The park was surprisingly empty. It is closed at night though I don’t think it is physically shut.
We wandered back and found the tiny Ichigokan Square, with sculptures by Henry Moore and Bernard Meadows.
To our delight we came across a noodle bar with a kind attendant who had spent some time in the US and spoke good English and guided us through the menu. The udon noodles were delicious.
Then it was back to the bus station, past the museum (1894), a late Victorian building among the modern office blocks.
The bus to Fuji Highlands took two and a half hours, in a grey humid landscape, the hills shrouded in mist.
We arrived there and took a taxi to our hotel, Fuji Calm, where the Japanese bedroom, with its rush mat (tatami—shoes off at the door) and futon were a welcoming sight.