I dragged my heavy neck out of bed at 4:30AM while the sun was still inching its way up. My days seem to have become earlier and earlier despite the end of work July 26th. I watched the rice fields and low hills as the train rumbled along the track from Nara to Osaka. Even in the early hours my back was hot and sweaty from the short walk. My shirt and the train seat created a climate of their own in the space between. So much for trying to stay mildly cool. I stumbled around Tennoji station trying to stay in shade and find the bus to Yamanashi. It was nothing more than a curb, a sign, and a shelter that looked sweltering.
It was an eternity before the bus made it to the highway. It winded around Osaka and Kyoto like a half inebriated snake. No wonder this bus was slated to take 9 hours. There were few people on the bus from the first stop but by the time we pulled onto the highway it was full. For some reason I was hoping deep inside it wouldn't be full so I could ride in comfort. No such luxury this time around. Even the air conditioned bus had trouble keeping me cool. Nobody else seemed to mind. My heavy neck didn't find much relief in the stiff bus seat. I kept nodding off only to receive a stiff reminder of my discomfort. How many more hours could I stand of this? The short breaks highway buses make are sort of relief. Yet, I always want to get on the way. Japanese people seem to love stopping for breaks. Perhaps Americans are simply hell bent on getting somewhere.
The hours painfully went by one by one. The only enjoyable part was the looming mountains and peaks rising around the road. Around late afternoon the bus finally arrived in Kofu city, the capital of Yamanashi prefecture. I got off as quickly as possible and went to my hotel. I dumped my bag and went back out to find cheap food. I appreciate the luxury of being in a city because I can choose to eat things I normally don't. Nothing like a hot beef bowl of rice, the fast food of Japan, to take mind off the bus ride. Luxury? To me it is. I didn't spare much time doing anything else except stocking up on some rice balls and candy bars for my lunch the following day. I went back to the hotel to enjoy a refreshing shower that would be my last for 4 or 5 days.
I can't go to bed early but I had no choice. A 4:20AM departure for Kitadake and subsequent hike up would require the best of my rested body. I watched some soupy television programming that lulled me into a dreary state. I went to bed with dreams of my body soaked with sweat and mountain peaks filling my eyes.