Got up for a rather strange (authentic?) Japanese breakfast. The coffee and eggs were normal, however they also had a massive bowl of rice, pickles, tuna salad, and something which resembled (and tasted like) sautéed squid. I ate it, and didn’t ask too many questions (in Japan, the rule is “just eat it”. Don’t ask questions. It will always taste good, and believe me, sometimes you don’t want to know what’s in a dish).
After breakfast, I asked for directions to the Daibutsu, the largest paper-mache Buddha statue in the world. The guy at the desk had to make a few phone calls, but eventually tracked it down for me. As luck would have it, there were two very nice girls heading off at the same time, and they kindly invited me to join them. We chatted for a bit (them in English, and me in Japanese), about Vancouver, movie stars, etc. Normal “girl-stuff” I suppose. They were both very nice, and I really enjoyed talking to them.
It took around 45 minutes to get down from the hostel (by a different, and less dangerous route). They escorted me to the daibutsu, then headed off home . I took a couple of pictures, then headed for GIFU Castle (which was at the top of the ropeway I mentioned yesterday). Went up and looked around for a bit, and really enjoyed the display of ancient armour, weapons, etc. that was presented. Some of it looked like they should’ve taken a little more care of the exhibits though.
After the castle, I found the oddest little zoo on the way down. A squirrel zoo! I paid 300 yen, and was admitted (with a leather glove), upon which the zookeeper would place some food. The squirrels would immediately race up your body, and devour the food. Very cute, however I couldn’t help but get the idea that the squirrels might be slightly underfed to make them more “receptive” to tourists with food in their hands.
Stopped at the JR Rail station, and made reservations for my trip to Awara (no problem), and looked for a place to have lunch. I decided to go to the “Lotteria”, a McDonalds-style fast food place. After I had eaten lunch, I looked at the other patrons, and to my surprise, saw the two girls I had met that morning. Definitely very strange. They gave me an odd look when I said “Hi!”. I figured that they probably thought I was following them or something…
I was in a rush to get back, and was feeling unusually vigorous, so I braved the “Treacherous Mountain Path”, and arrived at the hostel, slightly faster than before (no heavy backpack), but still out of breath, and pretty sweaty. Showers certainly feel good after a day of vigorous mountain climbing! I got nailed for a 200 yen “heating charge” that night, which was odd, as I didn’t get one the night before (in spite of the fact that there was heat the night before as well).. I felt a little ripped-off.