Circling the Lotus Peak

Fuyō-hō (芙蓉峰, “the Lotus Peak”) is another name for Mt Fuji, Japan’s highest and most famous mountain. One of the world’s most famous mountains, in fact. Fuji’s almost perfect cone has been the subject of art and poetry for centuries, perhaps most famously in Hokusai’s series of woodblock prints. Its iconic shape is certainly beautiful, no doubt. I’ve climbed it myself, once, many years ago. There’s a famous saying in Japan, which goes like this:

富士山に一度も登らぬ馬鹿、二度登る馬鹿
Fujisan ni ichido mo noboranu baka, nido noboru baka
“He who never climbs Fuji is a fool; he who climbs it twice is a fool.”

I tend to agree. As a mountain to climb, it is far from scenic. Especially if, as is traditional, you climb it at night to experience goraikō (御来光), the sunrise from the peak. It’s a dull slog up (and down, of course!) a bare scoria cone. So while Fuji is wonderful to admire from afar, it’s best kept at arm’s length. As the famous haiku goes….

来て見れば Kite mireba
さほどでもなし Sahodo made nashi
富士の山 Fuji no yama

Rough translation: “I came and saw, but it was not as expected, this mountain of Fuji.” Which was pretty much my wife’s reaction, even without actually climbing it.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Jaguar Engineer Factory contacted me in December 2017 to say Lady Mary was all checked and fixed. The final bill was 540,000 yen, which was rather more than I was expecting, and a lot more than I was hoping. The biggest charges were removing the dash to fix the aircon (70,000 yen), resealing the windscreen to fix the leak (60,000 yen), and fixing the brake fluid leak on the rear inboard brakes (54,000 yen). A number of other issues were also found, including a crack in the distributor cap, a completely missing distributor cap gasket, and so on. Incidentally, as I pointed out numerous times to my wife, things like the missing gasket were precisely why I’d got her checked by a specialist. My local guys had examined the distributor, but clearly hadn’t realised it was supposed to have a gasket.

Actually, when I say “all checked and fixed,” I clearly don’t mean that. Inoue contacted me after I’d transferred the money and just was about to go and pick her up to say that he’d tracked down the squeal on cold mornings to a pulley and was looking for a part. Bit late now, mate. You told me she was ready, and I’ve already booked the train and hotels. As the children say, “coming, ready or not…”

Because of the New Year holiday period, I was not able to go and pick her up until January. This time, my wife wanted us to go to Tokyo DisneySea, expressly to buy a StellaLou stuffed doll. She is not a teenage schoolgirl, so I have no idea why she would possibly want something so silly, but there you go. Age is clearly no barrier to the sickening saccharine cuteness of Corporate Disney. StellaLou is apparently the latest “Friend of Buffy,” yet another character created solely to move product, rather than actually be, you know, a character like Mickey or Donald or any of those other actual characters who started out as, you know, actual characters. Respect is earned, not demanded.

Despite the lapses into tweeness, to be honest, I rather like Disney theme parks despite myself. Not for the characters, especially the ones created by corporate bean-counters, or even for the rides, but for the wonderful theming and attention to detail. The sheer immersion into another, unreal, world. And DisneySea is considered by many theme park aficionados to be simply the most beautiful theme park in the world. While I haven’t been to that many myself to compare, I certainly wouldn’t argue. The problem is, however, that it’s also one of the most popular theme parks in the world. Luckily, January is about as quiet as it gets.

Friday January 12th

We took the Hokuriku Shinkansen into Tokyo, leaving the heavy snows behind. The weather forecast said that temperatures would be higher by the time I was planning to drive back, so I wasn’t too worried. There was a nice sunset on the way down, and I could make out the base of Fuji, the summit hidden behind glowing clouds that made it look rather as if it were erupting….

Best of Fuji Tour 2018 (1 of 40).jpg

Once we arrived at Yokohama, our first stop was the local branch of the high-end Seijo Ishii grocery store, as they sell some rather nice food (that they make themselves). Their cheesecakes are particularly famous. And bloody nice. My wife is also a big fan of their Singapore-style rice noodle meal. They don’t have any branches out where we live, so it’s a Big City treat….

Dinner bought, it was onto the Hotel New Grand, Yokohama, where we were given a room about halfway up with a nice view over Yamashita Park to Minato Mirai. Having had to pay over half a million yen for repairs, I was being a little more restrained with the accommodation budget this time. The New Grand was less than half the Yokohama Royal Park, for example. However, we certainly weren’t slumming it. The New Grand is in fact probably the city’s oldest and most venerable hotel–rising from the ruins of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake as the successor to the old Grand Hotel, the New Grand has played host to many notable figures over the ninety years it’s been in business. Perhaps none more famous than General Douglas MacArthur, who stayed here before signing the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri in September 1945.

Saturday January 13th

The next morning I went by myself to JEF, and this time I was able to have a good look around the workshop. Inoue, the boss, is restoring–or will when he gets the time–a lovely Jaguar Mark VII. I’ve long been a fan of the almost-identical Mark IX, considering it one of the most beautiful cars ever made, and in person it is a very impressive beast indeed. It’s a truly massive car, very solid, with immense presence even at the back of a dimly-lit mechanic’s garage. I want one….

But I was here for a different cat. I discussed what had been done to my car with one of the mechanics, and was shown the old and almost perished rubber bushings, as well as the damaged distributor cap. Also discussed what I needed to keep an eye on in the future. The transmission apparently made a bit of a noise it shouldn’t when the engine was cold. I only noticed it one time, myself, and it went away quickly.

I drove back to the Hotel New Grand without any issues. The car wasn’t as completely smooth as I had hoped she would be: while definitely diminished, there was still a noticeable tremor at the lights, even though the engine mounts had been replaced. It’s not a major issue, and the main reason I was worried was in case the mounts were on their last legs. They weren’t, not quite, but they did have a few cracks, as did the rest of the rubber the car rides on (which was all replaced). I didn’t hear any mysterious clunks and rattles, at least. And my wife is adamant that the car’s definitely quieter.

From Yokohama, we drove up to Tokyo, as my wife was keen to visit the Asakusa Hanayashiki, Japan’s oldest amusement park. I should probably put ‘amusement’ in inverted commas…. It’s old, and looks it, but to my wife at least, that’s the major part of its charm. We took the scenic route there, however, as my wife also loves driving along the Capital Expressway network. So I took us out to Shinjuku, and then got off and drove through Shinjuku itself, simply as I had always wanted to, and we headed to Asakusa along surface streets. I was able to demonstrate that driving in central Tokyo is very easy indeed. Traffic was fairly light, the main roads were generously wide, and drivers were well-behaved. While parking is not cheap, it’s not necessarily fair to say, as many do, that the best car to use in Tokyo is a taxi.

Because of our detour, we arrived at the Hanayashiki at an awkward time. Too late to get our money’s worth before it shut at six, and with loads of time to kill until it reopened at 6:30 for the winter illumination event. So we wandered around the area, which at least is one of the more interesting areas of Tokyo for wandering around in, and had a quick snack for dinner as we were both extremely peckish. Luckily the famous local “menchi-katsu” filled the bill, and our stomachs, nicely. Very juicy, too.

Once the Hanayashiki reopened, we headed in, buying two 2,000 yen all-you-can-ride passes (good for the five actually operating rides during the special evening illumination period). Cheaper than Disney, to be sure. Not sure I’d call it better value, however. Leaving aside the almost total lack of theming, the place was a lot smaller, for a start. The entire park could probably fit inside one Disney dark ride. The lights were nice, but nothing special, but at least the queues were extremely short. To the point of being non-existent, in most cases.

After she crossed the famous (?) bridge (made famous by some anime she saw recently, I believe), my wife was mainly interested in the roller coaster. Not long or fast, it makes up for that in being rather old and rickety. Definitely a bone-shaker. We also checked out their Haunted House, which was interesting in a cultural sense, being based on Japanese ghosts, but was dreadfully lame. Barely a step above university open day haunted houses. Sad and pathetic, really. I also nerved myself to try out the Space Shot, where you seat in a seat and they whizz you up a pole high into the air. The first time it was definitely a thrill ride. If by “thrill” you mean “terrifying in the extreme.” (Yes, I’m a wimp.) The second time, when the queue was so non-existent that I was the sole rider, was a bit less terrifying, but still rather nerve-wracking.

Neither of the other two operating rides, rather more kiddie-oriented, interested us, and the live show was frankly rather sad (and only watched by a handful of people. The cold winter night didn’t help, of course). So after another go on the roller-coaster, we called it quits and headed back to the car. I’d managed to find a park pretty easily, down a narrow side street, and because it was a weekend, and we’d been there a couple of hours, it cost a whopping 2,400 yen. Ouch. Perhaps a taxi is better in Tokyo after all….

Back in Yokohama, we strolled over to Chinatown, a short walk from the hotel. My wife was feeling peckish, and so we headed to the restaurant we had the very nice xiaolongbao at last time, but they were closed for the night. So we did a bit of shopping and I got some shengjianbao (nice fried meat buns, like fried xiaolongbao) as a snack, and wandered around a bit.

Sunday January 14th

After two nights at the New Grand, we drove up to Chiba in the morning, to the Hotel Emion. I’d stayed here before, and was very impressed (especially by the breakfast), so it was a no-brainer to stay here again. Especially as the Hotel Miracosta in DisneySea is (a) almost impossible to book, and (b) very far from cheap. I don’t mind taking a shuttle bus for 15-20 minutes to save considerable wads of cash. And the Emion offered free parking and free breakfasts as well.

The Emion, no doubt realising that most of its guests want to maximise their time at the parks, offers what they call Provisional Check-in. You can check in as soon as you arrive in the morning, but can’t access your room until the afternoon, when it will be ready with your luggage already taken up. Being a Partner Hotel for Tokyo Disney Resort, they also sell park tickets. So I got two day passes (7,400 yen each. Ouch), and we headed off to Tokyo DisneySea.

It was a Sunday, which was not ideal really. On the one hand, going today meant that the park was open until ten at night, whereas if we went the next day, Monday, it would shut at seven. However, it also meant more people of course. As our primary goals weren’t really the rides this time, I calculated that it didn’t really matter if it was a bit busy. In fact, it turned out that most people there appeared to be there solely to go shopping: the shops were packed, but the ride wait times were downright reasonable for TDR.With the notable exception of Toy Story Mania, which was 100 minutes, and, on reading up on what the ride actually is, I cannot fathom for the life of me why it would be so bloody popular.

Or why Duffy and Friends is so bloody popular. Last time we were here, in 2014, my wife went mad buying loads of Gelatoni stuff (Duffy himself is not her style, and I am thankful for small mercies), and this time we were here for the express purpose of buying a StellaLou doll or two. So she headed into the first major shop after the entrance, and made a beeline for the StellaLous. Luckily, for me at least, she proclaimed that the dolls were far less cute in reality than she’d been led to believe. Even her beloved Gelatoni wasn’t as fluffy as he used to be. Back home, she found out this was due to the dolls being restyled to make it easier for them to wear clothes. Needless to say, she was far from impressed, and it soured her mood for the day a bit. She made up for it to an extent, however, by buying lots of Duffy-related confectionery–cakes and biscuits–sold in fancy decorated tins. Which she was so paranoid about getting back home undamaged that the next morning I had to go shopping for bubble-wrap and sellotape….

Anyway, once my wife had given up on StellaLou (Thank god. She’s really quite horrible [StellaLou, that is, not my wife. At least not usually…]), we headed to Journey to the Centre of the Earth for some Fast Passes. After getting them, found that the normal Standby wait was “only” forty minutes. So we joined the queue. Turned out to be rather less than that, too–more like twenty minutes.

When theme park writers rave about DisneySea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth is the ride they tend to rave about most. Honestly, I don’t see why. It’s well done, sure, but not my favourite ride by any means. That would probably be the Tower of Terror, but we didn’t go on it this time as my wife was…well, too scared, really.

We rode the replacement to the old Stormrider, Nemo & Friends SeaRider (because why have an attraction that’s not going to suck in more people through connections to a famous movie?). This had a rather longer wait, a good 40 or 50 minutes, and was a bit meh, I thought, though my wife liked it well enough. I don’t really like those rides where you sit in a large box and get jerked about as you watch a movie.

Talking of being jerked around, we did go on Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull in the evening (when our Fast Pass time finally came up–and we still had to queue for quite a while. I’d have wondered if we had the wrong queue except there was a Cast Member collecting the passes at the end), and my wife proclaimed that her definite favourite. Helps that we got seats right at front (I got to “drive”). It also helped that the safety bars are separate: for rides like Journey, it’s one bar between two people, and when one of those people is 186 cm and the other is 150 cm, someone’s going to be rattling around….

I also checked out Raging Spirits, the roller coaster that I hadn’t been on last time. This time I left my wife having a curry in the Arabian Coast (because Arabia is famous for its curries, I guess), and used the Single Rider line. Which meant a wait of about three whole minutes, if that–I was back before she’d finished. The ride itself was a bit of a let-down, however. You’re fastened in so securely that there’s no sense of danger at all, and the loop is shrouded in mist so you can’t really tell you’re looping at all. The ancient roller coaster at Hanayashiki was more of a thrill.

But honestly, the rides aren’t the main attraction here. For me at least, the theming is. It’s almost (almost!) worth the entry fee just to wander around and photograph it all. My wife says it’s all fake and so not really worth photographing, but that’s part of why it’s good in a way. Everything has been carefully designed and placed to look perfect. It’s an idealized version of reality. So while a real Arabian souk is of course far more authentic and offers a sense of place and history and culture Disney cannot even begin to grasp at, seen as a work of art, a sort of sculpture in the round, the Disney parks are their own thing. DisneySea is divided into several “ports,” and while the New York section reminded me of Universal Studios and lacked much air of mystery or exoticism (the Cape Cod area is pleasant, however), the Italian and Lost Coast areas are well done, and the Arabian section in particular is beautifully detailed. Which is why most of my favourite photos are from that area….

Monday January 15th

Today wasn’t as clear as yesterday had been, so I was a little worried we wouldn’t be able to see Fuji once we got closer, but luckily the internet and live cameras showed me it would be worth heading out. So we did, after breakfast. The Hotel Emion’s breakfast array is not as big as some places I’ve been, but their niku-jaga and especially their French toast are as good as any I’ve ever had. I ignored everything else and just had those two. It’s a good hotel, I think. The rooms are generously-sized and reasonably-priced, with a level of luxury that is surprising at that price range. Of course you don’t get the whole Disney immersion experience, but considering Disney hotels cost at least three times as much, or more like four if you add in breakfast and parking, I’m prepared to make some small sacrifices along the way.

We headed out straight to Fuji, along the Chuo Expressway to Fuji-Yoshida, and then drove leisurely around the Fuji Fives Lakes–well, three and a half of them, anyway. This route took us around three of the four sides of Fuji, assuming a round mountain can be said to have sides. There were, of course, spectacular views of the peak from all angles (and my wife, who I should reiterate is Japanese born and bred and so should know better, was surprised to learn Fuji is flat on top, rather than coming to a single peak). We passed by the infamous Aokigahara Forest (which looks very primeval and easy to get lost in), and out by Lake Motosu, I made a special detour to get the view of Fuji that features on the 1,000 yen note, although the weather wasn’t calm enough for the full “Reverse Fuji” reflection.

In the evening, we headed to Miho-no-Matsubara, which is famous for its view of Fuji (and for being the site of the legend about the celestial maiden and her cloak of feathers). We were just in time–Fuji could still be seen in the gloaming, glowing almost pink in the last light of the setting sun. We struck a lot of traffic heading back, however, which was tedious. Coolant temperatures remained perfectly normal, however.

That night we stayed at a motel, the Family Lodge Hatagoya Shimizu, which is apparently part of a decently large chain of American-style motels dotted around the country. At a bit less than 10,000 yen a night, including parking and breakfast, it was certainly reasonably cheap, and it was clean and new and functional, but not really good value for money. The Emion only cost about 30% more, and was easily 100% nicer. Breakfast was also bare-bones in the extreme–a few buns and breads, orange juice, and that was pretty much it.

Despite being winter, it had been quite warm under the sun as we drove around Mt Fuji, and so I turned the air-conditioning on. And nothing came out the central vents. Not good. It certainly came out the central vents when I put the car in for servicing, so clearly something had gone wrong when they reassembled it. I called JEF and explained the problem, expecting him to say something like “bring it in whenever is convenient,” but he ended up actually driving down to our motel to fix it that night. It wasn’t as far as it might seem–we’d been driving all day, but had taken the long way around, and it was less than two hours for him direct. He and his wife (I assume) arrived in his own XJS, a nice red 1993 (?) 4.0 litre version, with cloth seats and vinyl door cards. I’d often wondered if my door cards were leather or vinyl, as while they feel a bit different to the definitely leather seats, they feel very different to the definitely vinyl A-pillar coverings. After feeling the vinyl door cards, the difference is clear: Jaguar’s vinyl is very noticeably not a very good leather imitation at all.

Feeling a little guilty about dragging him all this way at night, I did what I could to assist, which was mainly just holding my torch to supplement his own. Dash panels were removed, and he tested various things, including swapping a vacuum module over from his own car to see if that was the issue (no, so he swapped it back), and after about two hours of poking and prodding and blowing and sucking, he found it was due to a failed vacuum damper. It was dampening the vacuum too much to allow the flaps to move. So he simply bypassed it. It’s not a perfect solution if you’re picky, as the flaps can now be heard slapping into place (if you’re listening for it), but it’ll do for now. He didn’t charge for this, either. While the damper might have coincidentally failed just then, I think it’s a little too coincidental, and I assume he did too. Plus I’d just given him more than half a million yen, after all….

Tuesday January 16th

Our initial goal was to drive down to Nagoya in the morning and see the Nagoya Port Aquarium that afternoon. However, re-checking closing times, I found that it was actually shut all week for “facility maintenance.” It certainly wasn’t showing shut when I planned the route, so clearly something had gone badly wrong and they needed to fix it fast. Perhaps one of the visitors had got eaten by a killer whale….

That left us with no plans for that morning. I was interested in checking out things in Shizuoka like Tokugawa Ieyasu’s burial site at Kunozan, or the Toro Yayoi Archaeological Site, but my wife, who has no interest in history at the best of times, had even less when her other major goal of the trip, seeing the orcas at the aquarium, was foiled. So, after much thought and debate, we ended up driving into the Izu Peninsula to visit a glass gallery shop. Not the gallery itself, which was fairly pricey and filled with the sort of ugly contemporary art we’d already seen elsewhere, but just the shop. I didn’t really care where we went so long as I got to drive my car….

We had to head back towards Tokyo a bit, and then onto the peninsula. Stopped for a decent all-you-can-eat lunch at a road station (they even had chilli-con-carne, to my astonishment. Plus rather good steak. All for 1620 yen per person), then crossed over a pass and down to the coast. It was definitely warmer here. Barely winter at all, in fact. So the repaired aircon was actually needed at those times I didn’t have the windows down.

The shop, unfortunately, turned out to be of very little interest whatsoever. My wife had been hoping for more of the cute glass animals she’d seen on our trip to the Noto Glass Museum, but no such luck. So in that respect it was a dead loss. But we did get some nice views of Fuji. While my wife had been very dismissive of the mountain when we circumnavigating it, saying it didn’t even look that impressive or tall, she admitted it did seem quite large when seen from farther away.

Heading back, I had grand plans to follow Prefectural Route 17 around the coast, avoiding the long slog over the hills, but not only was the road too far from the coast to offer much in the way of views, it was exceedingly twisty and my wife does not like twisty roads at all. So rather than force the issue, I did the sensible thing, turned back, and we took the main road out.

Not being able to check in until seven, we were in no rush. The sun set as we headed rapidly along the New Tomei Expressway. There’s a section there where the limit has, experimentally, been raised to 110 kph, with a possible maybe probably not future raise to 120 kph along the entire length. That’s all very well and good, and it was a new experience to be able to do more than a hundred (at least legally), but trucks are still limited to 80 kph. And there are a lot of trucks on the New Tomei…. They generally stay in the left (slow) lane, but often a faster truck will want to overtake a slower truck, both of course travelling much slower than a V12 Jaguar.

At one point, I was doing about 140 kph, and the Exhaust Temp warning light flashed on. That can be a sign that the cats are overheating, which can be caused by the Marelli ignition shorting out and only sending spark to one bank, while dumping unburned fuel down into the hot cats, where it ignites and does really nasty things. I immediately eased off the speed and checked my surroundings in case I had to pull over, but there was no loss of power and the light went off after a couple of heart-stopping seconds. It remained off the rest of the time, though I kept speeds lower and didn’t really relax. Frankly, I was getting less impressed with how the car seemed to be performed worse in some ways after her very expensive physical.

I’d added another 5,000 yen’s worth of petrol at a small local place in Izu that luckily wasn’t expensive, but after all our driving today, we were getting rather low on petrol. I thought about filling up at an expressway Service Area, but the outrageous price (171 yen a litre for high-octane!) put me off. I was pretty sure I had enough to get us into Nagoya, or at least off the expressway, and so it proved. The needle was in the red zone by the time we got to the hotel, but the warning light was still off. I mention this because of what happened the next morning.

The hotel, the Nagoya Prince Hotel Sky Tower, was very swish. Occupying the top few floors of a new skyscraper near(ish) the station, I had found a great bargain where, if you checked in after seven at night, it only cost about 13,000 yen. We were on nearly the top floor, the 35th, and the view was quite nice indeed. Not as impressive as the view from the Royal Park Yokohama, but still very nice. And the floor-length windows were a nice touch.

Wednesday January 17th

In which the best-laid schemes of mice and men do their usual thing….

I’d parked the car in the hotel’s nice underground carpark, close to a wall to leave maximum room for other people to open their doors without dinging Her Ladyship’s paintwork. So after loading the bags in this morning, and adding the rest of the oil I was carrying as she was extremely low indeed (to the extent of an essentially dry dipstick), I fired her up. She fired up perfectly, which was actually nice because it seemed to me that since her physical it was taking more effort to fire her up–she wasn’t catching for a couple of seconds. I was about to back her out so my wife could get in, when the engine just died on me. And would not restart. The starter motor spun, but the engine did not catch.

My first thought was that I’d run out of petrol entirely. The gauge, as noted, had been low, but not critically. But who knows what might have happened? Pixies could have snuck in overnight and drank the rest. I phoned the Japan Automobile Association,  and asked them to bring some high-octane petrol please. I was 90% certain that that was all that was wrong. After all, she’d never failed to start before….

So we had to go out to a local convenience store and wait somewhere out of the rain for the JAF truck to arrive, which it duly did in about twenty minutes, and I could tell them just how to get to the car. The JAF guys carefully added the fuel, and…

…nothing. Hm. Clearly running out of fuel was not the issue. Bugger. The senior guy took a look at the engine, checked that spark was available, checked fuel hoses for pressure, and then I phoned Inoue at JEF to ask his advice. He and the JAF guy (JEF and JAF) discussed matters, and investigated things. The JAF guy ended up climbing into the trunk to take out the fuel pump relay and test that using a spare fuse and some wires he had. That seemed to be fine. Which meant that the issue was almost certainly the fuel pump itself. In older XJS models, the fuel pump is conveniently located on the outside of tank, very easy to access. In newer ones like mine, it’s inconveniently located inside the tank, and you have to remove the entire tank to get at it. Which is, apparently, not exactly a walk in the proverbial park.

At any rate, Lady Mary was being as stubborn as her namesake, and not going anywhere. (Not even upstairs to take off her hat.) One of the perks of JAF membership, in addition to the several hours worth of free mechanical work we had this morning, is free towing up to, from memory, 15 km from the breakdown site. (My main insurance company, Sony, offers 50 km of free towing to a garage of your choice, or unlimited to a garage of their choice–which is why I chose them.) However, we were in the middle of Nagoya, so a short tow was all that was needed. The question was, where to? A quick internet search came up with a name I’d seen before in my various searches for Jaguar experts: Watanabe Motors, dealers in Jaguars and Citroens (and Maseratis) for decades. So I phoned them, and let them know they’d be getting some new customers.

It took ages for the tow truck to arrive, by which I mean hours. At least two. And there was a potential problem: because we were underground, could the tow truck actually fit? The answer, luckily, was “yes,” though we had to push Lady Mary out to a more accessible part of the carpark. And I was glad she was a low car. The word “tow truck” is actually a bit of a misnomer, as it was a flatbed truck that could lower its bed backwards so the car could drive (or be pushed) on.

My wife and I piled into the truck cab with the driver, and after a shortish drive, we were unloading at Watanabe Motors, which is a bigger company than JEF so my wife was quite reassured. She also seems to think that working on a range of cars rather than Jaguars only means they’re better qualified to work on a Jaguar. I don’t quite follow her logic myself….

So that was that. The return leg of the grand circuit of central Japan fizzled out. We had to take a taxi back to the station, and take the train home from Nagoya. As of this writing, Lady Mary’s still in the shop, and I have no idea when she’ll be out. The guy did warn me it would take a while. Not that I’m in any real rush–it’s a fairly cold and snowy winter up here, and I wouldn’t be driving her much anyway. And, looking on the bright side, at least I won’t have to worry about her breaking down….

So Lady Mary’s triumphal return home will have to wait for another day….

 

 

 

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