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The word Bayanzag means “rich in saxual shrubs” and the plants serve the purpose of drawing water to the surface assisting to make this landscape habitable.

An American palaeontologist called Roy Chapman Andrews coined the phrase Flaming Cliffs. The area is known for the number of dinosaur bones and eggs excavated here.

Our home for the night was a very small homestay with a walk across the Gobi to the toilet and wash tap.

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We took an afternoon walk to enjoy the sand whipping around some of the smaller red outcrops.

After dinner we learned some of the many games you can play with bone knuckles.

 

Three original temples stand at Erdene Zuu Khiid, the site of the first Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia. The buildings dating between 1586 and 1610 are now museums, having survived the Stalinist purge of 1937.

The city of Kharkhorin (established by the son of Genghis Khan as the capital) is the home to an impressive archaeological museum showcasing finds in this region and beyond.

For the past month, we have been accompanied on this trip by a pocket-wifi device. We posted it back to the supplier last night and are now reliant on paper maps, city signs and helpful subway staff to help us navigate Tokyo in our last couple of days here.

First stop today was Hama-rikyu Gardens, once the site of a shogunal palace.

Next was Tsukiji Market where hours after the early morning tuna auctions we lined up for a sushi feast before hearing to the Outer Market to check out the action.

Over to Akihibara to find ourselves way outside the age profile in Electric City on a Saturday afternoon.

For a change of pace, the JR rail line took us to Nippori to wander around Yanaka Ginza, one of the old shitamachi districts of Tokyo where pre-World War Two streetscapes still exist, having been left unscathed by bombs. The city’s lower classes lived in this district of alleyways, flowerpots and stray cats, although it’s fair to say that gentrification has taken place in recent years.

Great Wave off KanagawaUnder the Wave off Kanagawa (or The Great Wave) is one of the most popular images ever to emerge from Japan.

This woodblock print by the prolific artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was just one in the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

The Sumida Hokusai Museum opened in late 2016. The current exhibition, Hokusai’s Water Wonderland, focuses on his waves and waterfalls, and how the imported pigment, Prussian Blue, featured greatly in the series.

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Thirty-six views of Mt FujiThirty-six views of Mt Fuji -

Hokusai worked in many forms during his long life and was also responsible for small  manga-like how-to-draw manuals, some of which are available free of copyright on Open Culture. 

As you can see, they are still very useful to those learning drawing, even if you don’t read Japanese.

 

Hokusai and other “artists of the floating world” (ukiyo-e) greatly influenced the French impressionists and Japonisme became quite the fashion in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

As you might guess from the name, Hokusai inspired the series of prints by French artist Henri Riviere called Thirty-six Views of the Eiffel Tower.

 

The museum is well worth a visit as much for the building itself, designed by the architect Kazuyo Sejima.

Two Australians walk into a bar after 8.00 pm on a Tuesday. Everything else within proximity of their hotel seems to be closed, but this one has a flashing OPEN sign and seems to indicate it’s a dining and drinking establishment.

The four customers at the bar, enjoying cigarettes and their own bottles of sake which the bar retains for them, turn their heads simultaneously. This is not a usual occurrence in this side street of Izukogen.

Still, the barman calls his wife who emerges from the kitchen with the Japanese word for welcome. The two are seated at one of the two tables. It is explained to them by one of the bar patrons that this is mainly a bar, and only a set meal is served. “That’s okay”, the visitors say as they order one set each and a beer for the non-driver.

It is busy in the kitchen if the emergent sounds are anything to go by.  The drinks arrive and soon, an egg salad appears. The food keeps coming. Yakitori next, followed by more beef than these two have seen for the past 4 weeks in Japan. Fried rice accompanies the feast.

In between courses, the host runs through some cities in Australia she knows. When they zero in on Brisbane, she mentions jacaranda trees and the time of year they flower.

Someone is diving into her Japanese notes to keep the conversation flowing. A dessert of watermelon and orange pieces finishes the meal, followed by a “presento” of non-alcoholic beer for the driver.

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The couple is us, and we were made to feel most welcome. This was no set meal that our host prepared. This was Japanese hospitality. We left with bows and hugs and a photograph of another memorable night in this country.

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Dining Bar, Mitsuko. Izukogen, Japan.

Today, we drove from Matsumoto in the top left corner of this map to a place called Kawaguchiko which is a little north of that mountain in the centre bottom of this map. Yes, that mountain.

 

This place is stunningly beautiful. We are staying beside one of the Fuji Five Lakes and my travel agent (also known as Himself) has exceeded all expectations in finding this place, across from which Mount Fuji soars. EVERY room has a view of the mountain.

We were extremely fortunate to arrive on an afternoon of full sun and a clear sky. There is a walkway around the lake where you can take in Fuji San, watch boaters and recreational fishers and birds looking for a feed.

I will let the landscape tell its own story via these photographs. Meanwhile, we are here for dinner and breakfast, and settling in for the night.

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