This afternoon Mr. Sasaki had arranged for me to take part in a guided tour of the Konpira Promenade, which was being run by his friend. The Konpira Promenade is an area that has been decimated by volcanic eruptions, the latest of which was on March 21st 2000. And so it was that I spent a very pleasant 3 hours or so in the company of a group of middle-aged Japanese tourists and (rather randomly) a film crew; hopefully I won’t be appearing on any future episodes of ‘When Gaijins go mad’. The tour, of which I understood very little, was nevertheless fascinating, as we weaved our way through annihilated kindergartens, apartment blocks and bathhouses. From what I understood, no one was killed in the 2000 eruptions, but the devastation was terrifying, and it genuinely beggars belief as to why people would still choose to live so close to an active and dangerous volcano. Although, arguably the same could very well be leveled at the tourists who consider it a good idea to wander around on top of it, ahem.
Amazingly the tour finished 100m from a bus stop, and I had to wait less than 10 minutes for one of the 7 daily buses to the Sasaki farm, which I was pretty chuffed about; sadly the same could definitely not be said for the poor bus driver. Having fed my ¥1000 note into the automated fare machine I collected my change and was about to leave the bus when I was told in no uncertain terms to ‘CEASE AND DESIST!’ It turns out that in actual fact I had merely fed ¥1000 into the change machine, and so was effectively about to leave the bus without paying. After going through exactly the same ordeal with the change machine for ¥100 coins, I eventually alighted the bus, accompanied by a very audible sigh of relief from my fellow passengers.