"Homer: Satori no himitsu oshieru no? (Should we tell them the secret of inner peace?)
Bart: Dame yo, are wa gaikokujin da ro! (No, they are foreign devils.)"
It's day 2 of our trip to Japan and today, we make a trip to the town of Hakkonae to visit Mount Fuji. Hakkonae is a town approximately 4 hours out of Tokyo (by shinkanzen or bullet train) where you can catch an amazing view of Mount Fuji. We awoke early to try to start our day early but unfortunately were not able to catch the earliest train out of Shinjuku as we were not able to redeem our tourist J-Rail Pass (which can only be obtained by tourist OUTSIDE of Japan) as the counter only opened at 9a.m. So, it was a ramen breakfast first at a quaint little restaurant nearby after which we proceeded to take our ride to the town called Odawara where we would change train lines to the Hakkonae Station. A quiet trip which allowed us to catch up our sleep.
We arrived at Odawara Town just before lunch time where we took some time out to walk around the picturesque town and savour the delights.. which meant more eating and on top of that, we started our shopping at the many delightful stores which dotted the town. After some fantastic rice crackers and one of the best katsu don (pork rice with egg) I ever had, we moved on by train to the Hakkonae Central Station where we obtained a day pass to travel around Hakkonae. The day pass incorporated a tram ride, a cable car ride, a boat ride and a bus ride.
We then left on tram for the 1st stop which was supposed to be the 1st vantage point for us to view Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the weather was not favourable to us and all we managed to see of Mt. fuji were bits covered in mist. Sigh...looks like another trip there will be required...
Nevertheless, we made the most of things and proceeded to the 2nd vantange point by cable car which was an incredible 15 minute ride punctuated by a ride over sulfer mines. It was a simply amazing sight when the cable car went over the mines. The smell, though, was another sensation altogether! Sulfur...eww.. All 'vantage posts' for the viewing of Mt. Fuji were of course dotted with many souvenir and food stores. Funny thing about Japan is that all shops carry the same pricing so you don't really have to worry about getting a better price elsewhere or getting your throat cut by unscrupulous vendors.
We moved on from the cable car stop to board a garishly decorated 'pirate boat' for a cruise around the lake. With the weather at about 24 degrees, it was a really lovely outing with an incredible view. Our fellow passengers added to the enjoyment, as can be seen from the following pictures.
By the time the boat ride ended, it was getting late and we decided to take the bus back to the Hakkonae station where we proceeded to journey back to Tokyo town. We reached back at about 9pm or so and proceeded to have a quick dinner before proceeding taking a nice brisk walk back to our hotel room but not before stopping at our neighbourhood 'Lawsons' to stock up on our supply of kohii (coffee) and ocha (green tea) for the next day.
We planned to head to the Heritage Village of Shiragawa-go the next day which required us to start out very very early...so an early night was on the cards for us!