I’ve just spent a couple of days relaxing in Kawaguchi-ko, a picturesque and peaceful spot with lakes, hot springs and a good view of Mount Fuji. The area is famous for its mascot, the Koala, as we can see in the picture below, which I took in the tourist information centre.
Obviously, there aren’t really any Koalas in Kawaguchi. But there are a few monkeys, albeit monkeys in captivity, who jump through hoops on a stage and wear GAP T-shirts and nappies. While there, I went to see a monkey show, featuring two talented primates who could do somersaults, jump over hurdles, and walk on stilts. It was all very cruel, of course. As an ex-NOVA teacher, I can empathize with performing monkeys.
A least the organizers were thoughtful enough to provide English translations of the monkey trainer’s commands, on a large screen behind the apes. There were a few amusing spelling mistakes, most memorably “Please don’t torch the monkeys.” Damn- I brought my flame thrower all that way for no reason!
As well as the showbiz monkeys, there are some big, colourful statues of cuddly animals beating the living sh*t out of each other. Ah, isn’t that lovely!
I stayed in a nice little place called “Petite Pension Lumberjack.” A curious name- the feminine and sophisticated “Petite Pension” weirdly mismatched with the butch “Lumberjack.”
A quick walk around the neighbourhood revealed that Kawaguchi is the world capital of weirdly-named pensions, as you can see in the snaps below.
My favourite is this last one. The name “Stardust” creates images of the bright lights, glamour and opulence of Hollywood. Not this place: