The facility is called Fuji no Sato, or the Village at Fuji. It's located in Gotenba, a small town in Shizuoka Prefecture. On one side, we have the Japanese Self-Defense Force, and on the other we have a US Marine Base, Camp Fuji. It's a beautiful location, and, although modern, it still has a distinctly Japanese flavor.
This really is the Land of the Rising Sun, as the sun rises completely around four in the morning. Because of that, I've been getting up way earlier than I would at home, and although that means I'm tired at about seven o'clock at night, I've also had some amazing experiences because of it.
Yesterday, I woke up early and went for a walk. The weather had been so rainy that the surrounding countryside had been mostly obscured, but there is usually a point in the morning when the clouds get burned away a little bit. The hill down to Gotenba revealed beautiful mountains, cloaked in fog, and a little city completely blanketed. The mountains in Boulder have a similar effect on occasion, but these blow the Rockies out of the water.
I turn around, and there's Mount Fuji.
Now, I knew Mount Fuji was visible from the prefecture we were in, but I didn't know it was quite as close as it was. You can see from the picture (taken on the road right in front of the complex) that you could honestly walk right to it from where we are. It was absolutely jaw-dropping. I'll admit, that was the first moment when it really felt like I was in Japan. Looking at the mountains, shrouded in mist, with Fuji looming in the background, was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The fact that I was standing next to a US Marine base made it even more lovely. The trumpeted Star Spangled Banner seemed a bit out of place, but was, honestly, reassuring.
For the next few days, we'll be working hard to get ready for the camps ahead, but I'm really looking forward to doing my best, even if I'm going to be seriously sleep-deprived. For a non-morning person, 4:45 am is just too early to be awake.