I had never planned on hiking up Mt. Fuji, but it taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that you should never prepare less to save weight. I wanted to travel light at the time so it would be easier for me to climb up. I ended up regretting not bringing enough clothes. Connor, Emma, and I decided to go at night to see the sunrise. I never expected the altitude to be such a problem for me. Every step I took felt like I had taken ten steps, and every ten steps had me panting as if I had walked a thousand. When we made it to the top at 2:30 A.M., I was sick, out of breath, and I ended up sleeping on a stone staircase leading to an indoor sleeping quarters, which you could only enter if you paid in advance. I was shivering throughout the next 2 hours in an attempt to gather enough warmth to last till the sun rose. When the sun finally did show up, it was a blessing. I felt reborn! I didn’t feel sick anymore, I wanted to walk around again, and I didn’t feel as cold. The beauty of the morning on the mountain was indescribable.
Something I noticed afterwards was how sponsored everything is. There were several stations on the way up the mountain for people to buy food, relax, and get souvenirs, but everything was overpriced. I wanted a souvenir. At first I thought about getting some little trinket, but a key chain that would cost me 2 bucks in America would cost me 15 bucks in Japan. I didn’t bring enough cash on me for much and then discovered that I could only use my credit card on things that were 3000 yen and up. I ended up buying a cool Mt. Fuji t-shirt for 4000 yen. I also ate pancakes at a local shop on the way back. I had 6 dollar pancakes. However, I suspect that 4 of those dollars were just to have the Mt. Fuji logo burnt onto the pancake itself. It was also disappointing that they didn’t have any syrup…
Overall, Japan sponsors things better than any place I’ve been. The trains have TVs displaying ads, posters on the train sponsor one company or another, and then posters off the train are changed regularly. Sometimes I wonder if I got off at the wrong stop because of the posters I don’t recognize. It can be disorienting seeing all the ads. However, it makes me think about how easy it can be to become absorbed by the advertising. With so much ads around you, you’re bound to find one that catches your eye and lures you in. It makes me think about “shut-ins”, also called hikokomori, and how they wish to avoid the outside world. While I think that it’s silly to choose to remain inside forever, I also think that avoiding places with such condensed advertising and people is not such a bad idea. It only becomes a bad idea when you know that you need to do something outside everyday, such as a job or activities, in order to earn money. Without money, you lack resources to buy simple things, such as food. I do not believe “Second Harvest Japan” offers their delivery services to people who choose to remain inside even though they are able bodied. However, It may be a good question for them considering how popular hikokomori are (they’re popular enough to have a word for the sole purpose of describing them).
As for my “Second Harvest Japan” activities, I’m enjoying working with other volunteers. However, there have been pantry customers that can get a little out of hand. When someone makes a scene, we often have to get one of the bosses in charge. Charles E. McJilton, founder of Second Harvest Asia and CEO of Second Harvest Japan, comes down from his office upstairs to deal with these situations himself. I am always impressed by his patience, frankness, and strategies when handling the costumers.