Sunday, December 20, 2009

Japan Day 4

We stayed in Hakone for a night. I loved the futon and tatami combination 10+ years ago in Hakone and will continue loving the futon and tatami combination in Hakone for the next 10 years.

Imagine waking up to this view outside your window everyday. Even your life will be longer.

Imagine waking up to breakfasts like this everyday. Your life will be much more longer. I love how the variety you get for every Japanese meal (something from the mountains and something from the sea - my concept in the future for my lucky husband and kids).

Even now, everyone keeps saying the best meals we had were in Hakone - be it when we are eating at Grand Tofu, Pancake Parlour, McD or Sushi Sushi. Sigh.

The Hakone Free Pass I mentioned in the last post is the bomb. It allows you to take almost all of the Odakyu trains, ropeways, cable cars and buses. But what makes it the bomb is that it covers the entire route which links the top attractions in Hakone.

We took the Odakyu train from Tonosawa (our hotel's place) to Gora. Believe me when I say that this is a must when you are in Hakone. The old train runs through a narrow railway track on the edge of the mountain giving you an amazing view of the valleys and cliffs filled with autumn leaves in red, brown and yellow. You can literally hear the sound of passengers gasping at the view. And if you can't, you will definitely be able to hear the clicks and flashes of the hundreds of cameras.

Ray saw this dog at one of the stores in Gora and said, "Oh I finally remembered about Shiro! Forgot I had a dog at home!" What a difference a few days of fun make. His first words to me in the bus from Narita Airport to Akasaka was "I wonder if Shiro willbe alright at home".

Gora Park is really nice in autumn. Again, autumn leaves were the show stoppers. But what makes it more beautiful is the setting of wooden gates, wells, fountains, etc.

This is the 'apparently' artistic shot of Ray's. Well, erm, art is subjective. I think it is highly artistic (!), do you?

Finally we get a group picture!

Notice the smoke from the mountains? Scroll down! We are going to go there later!

Enough of the faces. Here are some pcitures of pure beauty. No contamination.

It was autumn, so we were not expecting to see any sakura but behold! A twig of sakura. Words can't describe the joy we experienced. We literally snapped away at this little twig. How many pictures of it, let's see . . . . 15 on my camera. What about yours, Jess?

After Gora Park, we took the Ropeway to Owakudani. But then a major crisis struck. There is a red bean on Jess's camera. All eyes were on John who was toting it and before that eating a red bean filled ice cream thing. But no one knew exactly when it happened. Why?
Cause during all the intervals (for whatever, no matter how long) we have been snacking. 100 yen ice cream puffs? Bite. 300 yen grilled senbei? Bite. 3rd green tea ice cream? Bite also.

While in the Ropeway car/train.
We changed to a cable car to reach Owakudani (I think) and this is the view from up above. And this is also the smoke you saw at the previous picture at Gora Park! Pretty impressive if you ask me.
Owakudani is a volcanic valley filled with active sulfur vents and hot springs. The smell over there is top-rate. What smell? The smell of sulfur or in more common terms, fart-like smell. (But that did not deter me from eating roasted sweet potato on the way up).
The hiking trail in Owakudani is quite leisure. Definitely can have you talking and eating while walking. We reached the site where they produce the Black Eggs! Black Eggs are actually normal eggs hard-boiled in the 80-90C hot spring water. Apparently, eating one will lenghten you lifespan by 7 years! Being the nice girlfriend I am, I ate the white of the egg and gave Ray the yolk. Anything to lengthen his life for him and no it is not because I absolutastically hate egg yolks :-)

We rushed over when we saw this green ice cream cone statue. All thinking "Green Tea Ice Cream!!" (We were shivering outta our skin actually, but oh well what is there to explain?) But then upon clearer observation, 3 of us took a step back and forced the 4th person to go for it.
Wasabi ice cream. Hmm. It is really NOT BAD. Funny in a way that it feels cold but sends tingling sensations at the same time.

We next arrived at Lake Ashinoko which is a huge crater lake that provides view of the shy Mount Fuji on CLEAR days. So we looked up. GLOOMY. Oh and is that DRIZZLE?
The Hakone Free Pass even covers a cruise that traverse the lake.

The sky was increasingly gloomy as we cruised along the lake. Then we heard the sound of hope. Rigorous clicking and flashing of SLR/DSLR cameras. Then we saw the sight of hope. Hundreds of uncles/ang mohs at a corner of the ship all with their SLR/DSLR zoomed to the max as if it was a competition to see whose lens could extend the longest.
What else could it be? But dear Fuji-san.

We were extremely lucky to be able to see Mount Fuji on such a gloomy day. Extremely blessed. It was then that John said, "Mission accomplished!"

And I must add that Jess was one of the kiasu ones in the See-whose-camera-lens-can extend-the-longest competition with the uncles!

Me, I just chilled.

Ray, he just chilled as well. Well, after he tried taking a picture using his Nokia phone and ended up with a blob of blue-grey, like a bruise on his screen.

Upon arriving at the other end of Lake Ashinoko, we went to visit Hakone Shrine and prayed a bit before taking a long journey by bus back to Tonosawa and then Odawara and then Ikebukuro (new hotel's place) where the craze of Bic Camera's jingle started!

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