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Out of Tokyo to Kawagoe and beyond

An annular eclipse at Kawagoe on the first night out.

This is completely insane! I am sitting in the night by a canal outside Kawagoe North of Tokyo watching the lunar eclipse beside our little Mitsubishi Kei van. On the spur of the moment I decided to try to log onto the wireless internet. The computer very politely told me my trusted service I had linked onto by chance in Tokyo was inoperative, but asked me if I would like to join the free service called "milky" and at the press of a button I was back on the net in the wilderness and able to blog and receive all my e-mails.

One of the things you learn from traveling is that it isn't just the inexpensiveness of the funkiest guest house that is an advantage but also the irreplaceable advice and help you get from the people you meet there. I had struck up a conversation with a European guy who is a long term Japanese resident and he had managed to get a much better gentleman's deal from a auto mechanic firm about six years ago and spoke Japanese, so he phoned up and found the 70 year old proprietor was still there and after a spirited conversation at the pay phone down at the "Family Mart", we were engaged on a long term informal lease for only about half the daily costs from a brand name rental firm.

This swept away all thought of simply going down to Nippon Rentals in Oizumi Gakuen and hiring the Kei van we had arranged by e-mail from New Zealand for Y5400 a day, which itself was far below the Y9500 they would have charged for a town ace. However it involved a rather complicated train journey half way to Yokohama and one of those extraordinary meetings, standing beside a silver sphere at the Hiyoshi station waiting for a man to appear who spoke only Japanese. In the event we have a gentleman's agreement with no contract except for a down payment of Y37,500 for the first 15 days and headed off into the magnificently complex roadways of peripheral Tokyo. Our friend even pulled a Japanese prepaid mobile out of a box which he had a duplicate of and we also have a phone for emergencies if we can decipher the Japanese menus!

We spent the rest of the day crawling round Tokyo at abut 15 km per hour, stopping to pick up a Japanese mattress and food to cook for the night on our meths stove, managing to reach Kawagoe on the northern tip of greater Tokyo at about 8 at night, and suddenly discovered this street filled with old Japanese merchant's houses and ducked into a side alley where we found this road to nowhere and are now parked on a bridge over a canal for the night.

Christine feeding fish at our Kawagoe sleeping place

In the morning, having wandered around Kawagoe we drove up into the mountains to the famous shrines at Nikko through a misty cloudy day.

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