Like the rest of the hiking population in Japan, weekend plans were washed away by Friday evening, as were many houses across the country. But come early Sunday morning, a rain-free window of opportunity had opened up toward the Japan Sea coast.
But Goryu-dake meant a cable car. I got the dog into the gondola without problem, hidden in her carrycase and buried beneath a daypack and jacket. But no sooner than I stepped off the upper station, hidden the carrycase and started off up the hiking path than I was accosted by two staff.
“No dogs allowed. You know that, don’t you?” they accused.
They moved to block me, but I ignored them and carried on up. I glanced back to check they were not running after me, and saw one of them on his walkie-talkie. What was he going to do, call in the Special Forces in a chopper? Please, just leave me alone.
Five hours later, nerves soothed and soul refreshed from the rugged peak, I bundled one exhausted animal into her carrycase barely without breaking step, slung the case over my shoulder and under a jacket, and rushed toward the open gondola doors. But I had been spotted.
A young man appeared, somewhat out of breath, and asked, in English:
“Have you got a dog?”
“Er,” I paused for a millisecond, with Hana in her case just 2 feet away from him. “No.”
“Oh I am sorry.”
Out swung the gondola into the open air and away from officialdom. Overall, it had been a good day.