Friday, August 03, 2007

Silent Chuzenji... *

Original Date Monday, July 23rd

You know how the story goes, these kids go to some little lakeside town for their summer break. The kids are naive, and too self confident, so they ignore the obvious warning signs. The town is too quiet, the fog too dense, the spiders too big. Obliviously they venture out onto the streets at night, eager to explore what they should have realized was a very bad place.

And then the mountain men start killing them one by one.

This story starts in Tokyo however, on Monday. We started the day with public baths and Mr. Donut, as is our ritual. We left our heavy bags at the hotel and went to get our Nikko passes and do some last minute exploring.

Our train out to Nikko was not particularly fast, but featured a fair amount of bucolic scenery.

By the time we arrived at the station the weather changed. The air was still fairly warm, but there was a steady rain that, while not pouring, required that those without umbrellas purchase them.

We only had a few hours so we hopped onto a bus to where the attractions were gathered. Nikko is a famous and often visited location, important because it is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun. His grandson, the third Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu also has a Moseleum that we visited without realizing what it was.

The rain was still falling as we explored the massive building, and it really made the day. The normally horrifically crowded building only had a few other, umbrella toting visitors.

Several of the motifs, and I noticed more of them, appeared to either be elephants, or dragons with remarkably elephant like snouts.

Our time unfortunately short, we did some fancy bus hoping and started our way out to our hotel. After a short while we noticed something happening outside. The fog was rolling in even more.

We went up a long, windy road until we reached our stop, and I discovered that I had somehow accidentally booked part of our vacation in Silent Hill.

For those not in the know, Silent Hill is a surreal horror game that Lil Bro, Tech Support and I like to play. It was also a movie.

Welcome to Silent Hill.

Welcome to Lake Chuzenji

Trying to find our hotel was surreal. We walked along a road where we knew there was a lake on the other side, but we couldn't see it at all because of the fog. We could only see a dozen feet ahead of us. We were inside a cloud.

We finally found our hotel, a rustic Minshuku called Miharashi, sat down in our rooms and looked out the window. There was no view at all. Add to that the quiet, rustic nature of the hotel, and some very large spiders we had seen on the way to the hotel, and we were all beginning to suspect we were in a horror film.

Dinner was fantastic. Traditional Japanese hotels give you tons of delicious food laid out across the table like some banquet. Those who had never been lucky enough to enjoy that type of thing were awed. Even those of us who had sighed in pleasure.

Most of us decided to go for a walk. Thats when something amazing happen.

The fog went away.

Now able to see where we were going, we started out. The town was empty. The fog, though mostly gone, was still in enough force to be eerie. There was a dead frog by the side of the road and even without spiders the webs were still eerie.

By the time we reached the end of the main road we were giggling with our own creeped out feelings. A light was flickering ominously on the road. A vending machine jabbered at us, it's video screen displaying a bizarre ad involving a monkey slapping it's head.

We huddled together at the edge of the light and tried to freak each other out. My camera took spooky pictures.

The light at risk of leaving entirely we walked very quickly back to our hotel. We tried to explain to my parents the horrors that had been outside.

We settled down for some card playing and TV, and I passed out before we were even done with the latter.

Tune in tomorrow to see what a difference a day can make.

* Title stolen in part from Lil Bro

No comments: