Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Well as you can see below we have managed to escape Tokyo for a couple of days. We went to a place call Hakone. Which is the major tourist town near Mount Fuji (apparently…as the cloud cover prevented the visual confirmation of that).

We arrived on Sunday afternoon in a light drizzle which looked to be ominous after checking into the Hotel we decided to make the best possible use of the free travel pass we had purchased. The transportation system in Hakone is quite famous within Japan as the area is linked with gondolas, switchback trains and funicular trains. In Japan the Gondola system is a ‘Ropeway’, and a funicular train is a cable car (funicular is a train that rather than going on its own steam it is pulled by a large metal cable.)

After taking the funicular and the first part of the ropeway, we discovered that we could only get a view of the clouds and decided to save the rest of the sightseeing till the following day.

Back at the hotel we discovered our matching ‘yukata’, which to all intents and purposes is a dressing gown. We weren’t quite game enough to wear the thing to dinner although we were in the minority. As we arrived on a Sunday evening probably about 90% of the guests were retired folk. I have discovered if there is one thing the oldies in Japan love, that is Onsen.

Onsen is the Japanese name for a hot mineral bath. Over the weekend I took a couple of Onsen in two different hotels. Wasn’t such a bad experience! I can understand why it is so popular. Although I have to admit that I am still working up the gumption to take the more traditional ‘public bath’ approach. I was quite happy with the private bath in the meantime.

The following day we were able to get a view of the surrounding area from the ropeway etc. Very beautiful place, almost reminded me of NZ. We were able to stop at a volcanic hot spot in the vein of Rotorua. Apparently the tradition in Hakone is to buy half a dozen boiled eggs. These eggs are cooked in the volcanic water or steam which gives them an external, appetizing, black hue! Despite the outside looking rather disgusting the inside was just a normal egg.

We were able to take a boat ride and go for a nice walk through the cedar forest then take a bus back to the start point.

All-in-all it was a very relaxing getaway from Tokyo, I hope to go back there. Some of the hiking there looks really nice and that might a be a plan for autumn.

Oh…the sign is one of countless signs in English that are…almost…correct.


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