Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 12

Hakone to Tokyo

We woke up this morning a little sad that we’d be leaving this amazing place, but we got dressed and got a call from our room maid to let us know breakfast was ready. We went back to the same banquet room as last night and had yet another amazing set of courses. The breakfast was not just toast and cereal, it included fish, egg, rice, tofu, yogurt and few more items I couldn’t recognise. The fish was definitely the favourite. It was pretty boney, but the meat was amazing!

We checked out and I went around the ryokan to take a few more photos before we leave. The whole place is really nice, I would happily come back here one day! The staff were really nice too (except for the one angry mama-san that Anth and Amy got), they even came out the front as we were leaving to wish us farewell.

We walked back to the station and started our tour of Hakone using our free passes we bought yesterday. The first leg was a train ride to Gora. Because the train has a fairly steep climb, it actually switches direction so it can zigzag up the mountain, pretty cool.

At the end we bought some snacks while we waited for the rest of our group. I ended up buying chocolate covered strawberries, but it tasted like the strawberries were freeze dried.

From there we got on the cablecar. This probably wouldn’t be what you’d imagine as a cable car, it looked like a tram but it actually used a cable along the group to pull it self up the mountain! The cable car was built on a slope, so there were a set of steps inside so we could sit up right while it was climbing the mountain.

From here we would normally get on the ropeway, but because of volcanic activity in the area, this portion of the ropeway was closed, so we caught a bus to the next ropeway station and got on from there. Just my luck! From the ropeway station there was our first really good view of Mt. Fuji. We were so lucky with the weather, we had nice clear blue skies which is actually a little rare, normally Mt. Fuji is covered by cloud. We got in to the cable car looked over the landscape with Mt. Fuji in the background, it was a really nice ride! We even managed to get a group photo!

The ropeway took us down to the lake where would then board a pirate ship! It was pretty cold on the ship, the wind was icy but the view was spectacular. Right at the end before our ship pulled up there was a clear line of sight to Mt. Fuji, I was able to switch lenses just in time to get some close up photos of it.

From here we walked around, got some lunch at a nearby ramen place and even celebrated our awesome Hakone stay with some sake. Before ending our tour we walked over to a shrine. It was a bit of a walk with the freezing wind coming off the water and a bit of a climb, but it was worth it. The shrine was surrounded by trees and some of them must have been very old because they were really wide and formed part of the shrine. People would prey and touch the trees as well as throw money at the base of them as part of some ceremonial act.

We walked back and took a bus to the train station to go to Tokyo. We took a couple of trains to get there, but one of them was a bullet train. Normally we get the platform and either just pulls up or is already there waiting for us. This time we had a little bit of time to kill, so we waited on the platform. It was fairly quite out here compared to the bustling cities but amongst the silence, every few minutes a bullet train would go speeding past. The first time we saw this we were absolutely shocked. They move so fast that I didn’t have enough time to get my camera out and before you know it it was gone. The speed is incredible! I managed to capture a video but it looks kind of slow in the video. It’s feels much faster when you’re there! They look so futuristic too.

After a fairly quick journey we were in Tokyo. Our hotel was in Shinjuku so there was lots happening. We checked in and were very happy to see our bags made it safely and were waiting for us when we arrived. After dumping our stuff we headed out to explore the area, get some food and then ended up at another arcade. The arcade culture here is amazing. There a people here that must spend so many hours playing some of these games because they are extremely good at them! When you think about it, this is probably better than what we have at home because most people that play games don’t leave the house. Out here the arcades are 7 storey buildings and groups of friends meet up to play games. Not to mention alot of the are physically demanding, albeit not as much as sport but more than sitting at a playstation.

We’ve had another long day and yet another late night, but it was pretty cool to be in Tokyo again. There is always something new to see and it does seem like its changed a fair bit since last time, although that could just be because we’re spending more time in different areas. On the way back from the arcade we saw a food van, but not like our food trucks in Melbourne, this was literally a van that had been modified to have a kitchen, it was pretty cool.