Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Very Important Visit

Today was a deeply personal trip.  Most of our Travel Sabbatical fans will not find this the least bit interesting or relevant, but our visit to Akiko's mom's gravesite was very important to us at the conclusion of our trip.  We think she was our guardian angel throughout our journey, keeping us safe from harm and illnesses, so we wanted to pay our respects and gratitude.

Akiko's mom, Yoko, was somewhat of an adventurous vagabond herself.  Akiko probably got the travel itch from her.  While living in the States, it was nothing for her parents to pack-up the station wagon and aimlessly drive off with the kids to explore the vast open road and national parks.  They also explored Southeast Asia during their 3 years spent in Singapore.  Although her full-time job in Tokyo prevented Yoko from traveling too much, she was an avid hiker and skier who liked to be in the mountains of Japan as often as possible.  Once retired, she was able to realize some of her dreams of trekking the Swiss Alps and witnessing the Matterhorn.  In fact, she went to Thailand way before we did and she's visited countries that we've not yet seen including Brazil, New Zealand, parts of the Canadian Rockies, etc.

So, it was with great shock and sadness that such an active person would be afflicted by Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS, robbing her of her ability to move and eventually breathe.

1974?, Japan.

At first, she probably would've disapproved of our idea of quitting our jobs and spending our savings to travel the world.  That probably sounds reckless and frivolous to anyone who had to grow up in Japan after WWII.  But, I think she would've done the same under different circumstances.  If she were alive, she definitely would have met us along our journey for sure.  We think Machu Picchu, and perhaps Sapa in Vietnam.  Both places, a mountain hiker's dream.  

We're documenting our visit to her gravesite after our round the world trip because she would've been so proud of us for having completed this journey; and also as a good place to record instructions on how to get back to the gravesite because someday, we will have to find it on our own (since this blog is basically our e-diary)!  You'll soon see, it can be quite complicated...


Option 1: Longer Route, One Train Transfer and A Bus Ride
  • JR Chūo Line from Ogikubo (荻窪) to Shinjuku (新宿) Station.
  • Exit JR Shinjuku (新宿) Station.
  • Walk to Seibu Shinjuku (新宿) Station.
  • Take Seibu Shinjuku (西武新宿) Line to Kōkū-kōen (航空公園) Station. 
  • See below for bus information.
Option 2: Shorter, Two Train Transfers and A Bus Ride
  • Purchase ticket for Kokubunji (国分寺) Station, ¥210.  Unable to purchase transfer tickets on Seibu Line, all the way to final destination of Kōkū-kōen (航空公園) Station.
  • Take JR Chūo Line from Ogikubo (荻窪) to Kokubunji (国分寺) Station.  ~30 minutes.  We had a rare view of Mount Fuji from the train!

  • Exit the JR train station to purchase ticket to Kōkū-kōen (航空公園) Station on Seibu Kokubunji Line (西武国分寺), ¥230.
  • Board the Seibu Kokubunji Line (西武国分寺) towards Higashimurayama (東村山).  4th stop, ~10 minutes.

  • At Higashimurayama (東村山) Station, transfer to platform 3.
  • Board Seibu Line towards Honkawagoe (本川越) Station.

  • Get off train at Kōkū-kōen (航空公園) Station.  2nd stop.
  • Take the East Exit (東口).
  • Locate bus platform #2 and Bus 01 towards Tokorozawa "Este City" (所沢エステシティー).
  • Board the bus from the middle door and take ticket.

  • The 5th(?) stop or ~8 minutes later is in front of the Tokorozawa Seichi Reien (所沢聖地霊園) cemetery.  Make sure to ring the stop button. 
  • To get off the bus, compare the listed price on the board to the ticket number.  We boarded at Stop "0", which costs ¥170.  It is best to have exact change.  If not, you must first get exact change onboard the "ryougae" (両替) machine, then place the ticket and fare in the machine by the driver upon exiting. 

  • We have arrived after 1.5 hours! 
  • Mom's gravesite is in plot area #26.  
  • Take the first right and follow the path.
  • Continue across the street and through the 2 gates.
  • Grab some water for the flowers.

  • Gravesite is on the right side. 

Rest in peace, mom!  We'll see you again soon.