"Start climb at midnight. Leave here at 11."
"To climb the
mountain? In the dark?"
sunrise," he explained. "Very beautiful. Be on top for
"Oh, I see.
Well, I am not going to the top, actually," I said. "I'm just going to
walk around on the lower trails. Not climb to the top."
yes," he agreed. "Too soon to start now. Eat first. Then rest. Then
I began to
realize that his speaking English was not necessarily helping communication. I
wouldn't mind eating but I was not going to climb to the top of Fujiyama. It
seemed a minor point, however, not worth stressing at the moment.
His name, he told
me, was Minoru Kojima. The girl was Yoshiko Ikeda. He was an engineer. He
pronounced quite Clearly the English words he knew. But he didn't know many. We
talked awhile but tended to exhaust each subject quickly and then repeat our
comments to be sure there was nothing more to be squeezed out of the topic
before going on to another. Yoshiko spoke no English.
pleased that I wanted to climb Fuji-san. Every good Japanese, he explained,
climbed Fuji once in his lifetime, but only a crazy Japanese climbed it twice.
In the face of his mounting enthusiasm for my climb, I refrained from
disavowing all intention of setting foot on the top. I merely agreed that only
a crazy man would climb Fuji twice.
It seemed that
Minoru, Yoshiko and I were roommates; several other people dropped in later.
Minoru always introduced me, explaining to each new arrival that I was going to
do the Japanese the honor of climbing their sacred mountain. Minoru was fast
becoming my friend and I found myself, due to his promotion, in the weird
position of a sort of guest of honor who had come halfway round the world to
pay my respects to the Japanese people by climbing Fuji. The buildup was
becoming sticky, but it had gone too far to do much about it.