In search of a mountainAugust 18, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 24 °C
Today was the first day in a while where we were spending the whole day in one place. We decided we would aim to see Mt Fuji. Being summer the days are very hazy combine that with the fact there has been a lot of cloud around meant we haven't been able to spot Mt Fuji from the train or other places where it is meant to be visible.
We have been very lucky with the rain, some areas in northern Japan have been flooded over the last few days but apart from a 1 minute shower in Hiroshima and going through some rain on the Shinkansen we have had dry weather the whole time.
There are a number of ways to get close to Mt Fuji so we decided to go the way that involves riding the Shinkansen - just one last time! We had a quick breakfast and headed to Shinjuku station to get the subway back to Tokyo Station. We booked ourselves some return tickets to Odawara, about 70kms out of Tokyo so still very much in the suburbs, and headed up to the platform. This one was a Kadama Shinkansen most of the others we have been on were mostly Hakaris. There are different types or classes of Shinkansen, they all do the same thing just slight differences between each.
The trip took less than 30 mins and we dropped into the Tourist Information office in Odawara for some suggestions. The very helpful lady suggested we head up to Lake Ashi in the Hakone area which sounded good to us. She also managed expectations and said it was unlikely we will see Mt Fuji anyway given the cloudy weather. We bought the tickets and headed to the first of the 2 train stages.
Then the wheels fell off. I blame poor signage at the station and the fact a train was there ready to go but we hopped on the wrong train. This meant we made a short detour to Matsuda before getting another train back to Odawara and try again. That was the first and only time in the whole trip we messed up our trains - just goes to show how easy it is to get around.
Anyway no harm done and we only lost about 30 mins. At Odawara we double checked this time and boarded the train up to Hakone-Yumoto where we changed trains to go up into the mountains. We could tell the whole time the train had been climbing but when we boarded the next train the climbing really started.
The second train was a little 2 carriage electric thing that ran from Hakone-Yumoto to Kawakidani and climbed about 450m in the process. The views out the windows were really beautiful with deep river valleys and really high peaks. The little train had to go through 3 switchbacks where the driver and the guard would get out and slowly swap ends and we would proceed on our way. It was only 1 lane going up so we had to stop at some stations for the train going down to pass.
Once at Kowakidani we switched to a bus to take us down to Motohakone on the shores of the beautiful Lake Ashi.
This was a cute little tourist town with lots of tourist type shops. We bought a couple of souvenirs and walked along the lake foreshore looking at the sights. It was really nice.
To take advantage of the view we bought a couple of sandwiches and a couple of beers from the 7-Eleven and went and sat on the foreshore to have a great lunch. Lake Ashi has one of the vermilion gates actually in the water, you often see it on tourist brochures.
We walked along the foreshore through the cedar grove that was planted 400 years ago to give protection from the weather. You could imagine the area in winter being covered in snow.
Unfortunately the mountain eluded us and we didn't get to see it. We did see where it was meant to be if the cloud wasn't in the way.
We then boarded the R bus and headed back to Hakone-Yumoto and boarded the train back to Odawara for our last Shinkansen ride. I did a count and in the 11 days we were in Japan we did 10 Shinkansen trips, not a bad effort!
We had dinner back at the hotel, pizzas in the cafe with a couple of beers.
Tomorrow is our last day in Japan before we head home tomorrow night.Read more