2009 - 2010

Day 11


Today was our only actual structured tour. We paid ¥ 16,000 for a 1 day tour to Mt. Fuji and Hakone (a famous town at the foot of Mt. Fuji).
To be on time, we had to meet at the closest pickup point for the tour company, which for us was 1 train stop away at another hotel called “The Grand Price Hotel”. We had to be there by 7:50am, which for me is quite early.

Yesterday, we had all decided that it would be easier to buy some breakfast stuff from Family Mart and eat on the run, so we all had some breakfast while we were waiting at the very fancy reception of The Grand Prince Hotel.

From there we met a representative from the tour company and boarded a bus bound for Sunrise Tours Headquarters. When we got there we each paid ¥ 16,000 took a toilet break before we hoped on the big coach bus to go to Mt. Fuji.

We got on the bus and met our friendly tour guide we started our 1 hour and 20 minute trip over to the Mt. Fuji Visitor Center. On the way we went past Fuji-Q High Land - a theme park with a massive roller coaster and a view of the mountain. We stopped at the visitor center which had memorabilia and information about the history of the area, including a video of how Mt. Fuji was created. It was actually a merge of three smaller volcanoes!

We eventually reached the fourth station on Mt. Fuji after quite a few windy roads. If the weather was better we could have gone higher, but in Winter even fourth station is pretty good. At this stop there was a great view down into what looked like a canyon and a view upwards to the rest of the giant mountain. There was also snow and ice everywhere. Anthony had never been to the snow and loved, everyone was throwing snow around and taking photos. Robert also thought it would be a good idea to run into a huge clump of snow that Anthony was holding, except he did it head first!

From here we headed to a restaurant for our Japanese-style lunch. It was a Bento-box with raw fish, a crumbed prawn, a couple of shrimp, a piece of fried chicken, a few different types of tofu, a berry, and slice of egg with salmon in the middle, miso soup and rice. There were some more little Japanese bits and pieces, but I cant remember them all. I actually tried a few new things there and surprisingly ate more than I thought I would, although I still don’t really enjoy raw fish.

The next stop was for our boat cruise. The dock for this had a gift shop and we were given a little bit of time to shop around. On the bus beforehand, our tour guide showed us these “Secret boxes”. It was just a wooden cube with no obviously way of opening it, but then small pieces of wood move here and there and you have to get the right combination of moves before you can get inside. Apparently these boxes were invented over 200 years ago. I had to buy one :)

After buying my souvenir we boarded our boat and cruised for about 15 minutes on the top level with the cold wind on our faces, but it was a nice view along the lake.
At our destination there was another gift store and we saw a ropeway that went up the hillside. We went inside to get our ropeway tickets and decided on a meeting time.
The ropeway was cool, as you climb up this hill the view just got better and better. Unfortunately Mt. Fuji was covered by fog and clouds, but the rest of amazing. In the distance there was a great view of the lake and a town with a mountain range surrounding the entire area. At the top of the ropeway was a small temple and a observation areas.

Naturally we all took lots of photos and just as I was about to head back down the ropeway, it started snowing! I tried to get a photo of it snowing, but it was too hard. This was the first time I had seen snow fall from the sky!

This brought us to the end of the tour where we hoped on our bus again to head to the next town where we could catch a bullet train (Shinkansen) back to Tokyo. We got our tickets and all boarded at the same time. This bullet train was not the fastest as it didn’t go very far, but it still travelled 200 kmph whereas the train that links Osaka and Tokyo goes closer to 300 kmph. Inside the bullet train, it felt like a very spacious aeroplane. The seat were wide with enough room infront of you for people to walk past and they all had tray tables. When it took off you could not even feel it moving, it was the smoothest train I had ever been on and when it reached its top speed was no different. The only give away was the speeding lights outside were going past pretty fast!

We got back to Tokyo and once again tried to find somewhere to eat. After looking around we decided to head back to the station near our hotel and get something there. Rob went home and we ended up trying a place that looked like a pub and had decent prices. The best part of this place was the ceiling, it looked like the night sky with LED stars with a couple of LED shooting star trails too. It was once again a bit of a rip off as the meals were fairly small, and the English was terrible on the menu. For example, I ordered a “Park cutlet with beer hall style” thinking it was a pork cutlet. It came out as a single piece of beer battered fish on a stick and was hardly filling enough. Luckily I also order a “six cheese pizza” which looked and tasted like only one cheese - basically just a small Margarita.

Anthony and Lee went to the small vending machine dinner place to get some more food while Amy, Sarma and I went to FamilyMart and AM-PM to try to find a blank CD to load windows onto Amy’s new disney eeepc.
I also tried Sarma’s “Cherry blossom” KitKat - which started off nice, but left a horrible aftertaste which could only be cured by buying FamilyMart donuts, so I did :)

We then all headed home to eat our dessert and went to bed. I think we all glad to pay the price for this tour as it was such a great experience and there was no way we could have got the same thing by trying to do that ourselves. It was a great day.