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the start of the cinder cone. There‟s a visitors centre where you can have coffee and
learn how the volcano works. You can also press on further up the mountain.
Guides with ponies will take you part way. You can also join the hardy types who
trudge to the very top . You will, of course, have to come fully prepared with the
necessary climbing gear if you want to do that.
The three photos were taken from leafy suburbia in Fuji Yoshida, depressed downtown
Fuji Yoshida and the amusement park at the bottom of the mountain. The last was
shot after it had started to snow. In case you are wondering, that‟s cherry blossom on
the trees. The weather in Japan can be unpredictable.
9 Visit a Castle
Japan and Europe have a lot in common. Unlike China. neither had a strong central
authority in medieval times. Power lay in the hands of feudal lords who controlled vast
stretches of territory. They went to war with one another and paid lip service to kings
and emperors.
The Europeans built out of stone. That wasn‟t an option for the Japanese.
Earthquakes are common and stone castles would soon be shaken down. The
solution was to build in wood and place the castle on a high stone platform made from
irregular blocks that would (hopefully) settle back into their original positions after a big
The castle mounds have survived in most places but the wooden structures rarely
withstood the ravages of time. They are vulnerable to fire and costly to maintain.
My first picture is of Himeji Castle in southern Honshu. It is one of the few to have
survived in something like its original condition. Those that follow are of Kumamoto
Castle in Kyushu.