Now here's somewhere that really is in the middle of nowhere. Last weekend was spent in Fujiya Hotel, Hakone National Park's oldest western-style hotel.
The whole family was there to celebrate my sister-in-law's wedding, which took place in the hotel chapel. Half way up the side of a long-dormant volcano, the scenery is fabulously beautiful. After a nervous climb up a jerky single-track mountain railway I just had time to scribble the architypal clean-cut bell boy as we checked in and the view out of our room window.
The walls were lined with photos of famous former guests, ranging from Albert Einstein to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The groom and his bride stayed in the 'Helen Keller' room (yes I know the couple are not supposed to meet before the wedding, but sssh! This is Japan, such rules are flexible).
Overall it's a fine location and had me itching to paint. Instead I had to pull on the suit and tie, and concentrate on the serious business of my wife's sister's marriage.
If I had to complain about anything it would be the rip-off restaurants. 1,200 yen for a beer - extortion! And only two pieces of toast and a dab of scrambled egg at breakfast - how stingy can you get! However all was made up at the wedding banquet, which was a feast, and as I'm the only one who drinks alcohol (though I'm no boozer) I ended up with constant refills of champagne all afternoon. Slept like a baby on the long train home to Yokohama. That's the spirit!