Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
6Trip End Sep 01, 2010
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Where I stayed
Tokyo is hot. And humid. The fact that I haven’t mentioned this already is an egregious oversight on my part, because sweating through my clothes and then trying to cool off/dry my shirt of visible sweat marks have been my most common activities since I got here. Even early in the morning on our way to Tokyo station with our two suitcases and various Freitag bags, I was dripping. The one thing I was hoping to see (and get some pictures of) while we were out during rush hour was the Tokyo subway employees and their white gloves shoving passengers into the trains, like in the youtube videos that I’ve seen
We got to Tokyo station and set off to find the luggage storage. It was marked on the map, so we made our way there. It was a long way, and construction made it necessary for us to go outside to get there. We finally found an elevator on the outside of the building, under some stairs, with a sign that had maybe 45 Japanese characters on it, but in English said simply "Parcel Storage", and we went down. When that elevator stopped, we got out and walked down a hallway only to find another elevator, which we got in, and went down again. It seemed to take forever and we weren’t even sure the elevator was moving not to mention whether we were even going the right direction, or if the extra 43 Japanese characters on the original sign had said something like “Just leave the bag here and we’ll take care of it. Whatever you do, don’t go down the second elevator. That’s where we keep Godzilla.” After we had plenty of time to exchange increasingly nervous looks, the elevator doors finally opened directly into a storage area. Four employees immediately greeted us with “Moshi moshi” (or however that should be spelled), which is the common greeting here
We rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Odawara, which was nice and easy. I had my first unpleasant fish surprise when I bit into a bagel only to discover that what I thought on glancing at it was some kind of tomato was actually a fish paste. I did not like it, and not expecting it made it considerably worse.
After we got off the train, we took a bus for an hour and a half on a winding road through the mountains to Lake Ashi and the Prince Hakone Hotel, which was very nice. It is a resort on the lake, but there is no town here, so it’s quite isolated and night and day from what we had yesterday in Tokyo
After that we rode a cable car down the mountain, which was fun. We had great views of the lake and smaller incredibly green mountains around the lake, but still no Mt. Fuji. Maybe tomorrow on the train to Kyoto.
On our walk back to the hotel, we came across an ice cream store with a wide variety of crazy flavors and Munro told me that it has been her habit for the month she has been here to try new ice cream flavors that she hasn’t had before. (Munro wishes that all of her cross-cultural experiences could somehow involve ice cream.) We looked at the board and selected the flavor translated as “Tiny rice crackers and peanuts”, and we watched as the girl behind the counter took tiny rice crackers and peanuts and mixed it with ice cream in the manner of a flurry or a blizzard
After we spent some time relaxing in the natural outdoor hot springs at our hotel, we ate at a traditional Japanese restaurant for dinner. I had the “Pork Boiled Food Japan Style” and Munro had Udon Noodles. The pork boiled food was actually some delicious fatty pork belly, with a sweet sauce on it. I enjoyed it very much and took a picture for posterity. We also had our fist sake of the trip there, which was also good.
Then it was 9:30, there was no internet (I wrote this in word to be posted whenever we can find somewhere), no English TV, and we left the backgammon in the suitcase that’s in the bowels of Tokyo station. So we jumped in the hot springs again, read for a while and called it a night. Moving to Kyoto tomorrow, for our fourth different accommodation in four nights.
In the morning we awoke at 7:00, our earliest morning after our tamest night, to a beautiful day and a sweet view of Mt. Fuji, so we hiked around a bit before out 9:45 bus to take some pictures of it. By the time we were up in the mountains on the bus where we could have had an even better view, it was shrouded in clouds again. We were glad we got the chance to see it after all.