Photographer's Note

Gyorgy remarked on the note to my last upload being very short. He’s right, every photo has a story behind it… why not share it?

Have I mentioned how easy it is to travel in Japan? You get seamlessly transported from a busy but efficient airport to a modern city criss-crossed by fast and affordable transport links (I noticed when visiting in 2018 that the ticket prices had not changed since at least 2004, the year of my first trip to Japan). Then, in the blink of an eye, you step down from a superfast bullet train into the paradise on earth which is Kyoto…

And so on and so forth. This is the way normal people travel. And when it comes to travel - there are normal people and there is me…

I don’t know how it works these days, but about a decade ago, I found it notoriously difficult to book transport and accommodation in Japan online. In Europe, there was already a number of websites such as and it was a normal practice to book airlines, trains and car rental via the internet. So it was in Japan, but a lot of those sites where in kanji/hiragana/katakana mixture with not a lot in the Latin alphabet, never mind English. I can understand – at those times a lot of people who travelled around Japan where either Japanese, who had no problem deciphering the above-mentioned alphabets, or Americans/Europeans who used respectable travel agents, instead of wandering, unsupervised, around the country. I kid you not – I met people who spent their whole stay in their hotel, except for day tours organised by a tourist office.

Anyway… a Japanese friend of mine offered to make an online booking for me for a minshuku (traditional Japanese guesthouse) in Hakone. She also put me on a bus that would take me straight to my destination, with a convenient stop by the minshuku door. I know, I know, that sounds easy, but wait… As I arrived at the guesthouse, it turned out, to my panicky surprise, that the receptionist could not find my booking in the register.

“In Hakone two minshuku, same name” he explained in broken English. “Maybe you need other one”.

“Arigato”, said I in broken Japanese. “So… the other minshuku… how can I get there today?”.

“Walk right, turn left, lake, pirate ship, then ask way other side of lake. Last ship – twenty minutes from now”

The situation was already a tad surreal in the wrong sort of way… status: late afternoon, me - somewhere in the mountains, in Japan, with two bags and my bus already gone… the mention of the pirate ship, as the only means of transport, with the last one of those in just 20 minutes, didn’t really help. But I did as I was told: I walked right, I turned left and there it was – a beautiful lake and… yes, a pirate ship. As I found out later, it’s a popular tourist attraction, but for me, at that moment, it was a lifeline.

And “the rest is history”. I found, in a phrasebook, how to ask for a ticket, then, on the other side of the lake, I managed to ask the way to the other minshuku. The next morning I took a photo of this wonderful view. But ever since, whenever I hear the words “pirates ship” I always think of that moment, when I felt really lost in an unknown to me part of the world.

This photo was taken on a rainy morning on the last day of my stay in Hakone. Two more shots in WS.

Again, apologies for the quality, I still haven't got a computer to work on. :-(

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1581 W: 9 N: 3212] (16680)
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