Japan & China, Day 4: The Day We Rode a Pirate Ship Across a Crater Lake to a Volcano

Day 4 - Sunday, 9/14/14

Perhaps unsurprisingly, going to bed at 5:30 PM led to me being awake at 2:30 AM.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to fall back asleep but finally gave up around 4:30. We went down for breakfast at ~6:15, but breakfast didn't start until 6:30, so we ventured outside for a short walk around the hotel.
We filled up on pretty much the exact same breakfast we had eaten the day before, and our group departed from the hotel at 8:00 AM.
Traffic was incredibly slow-moving out of Tokyo.
We hit a couple of rest stops along the way to check out some more awesome vending machines and give in to some baumkuchen. I once ordered Francisco a baumkuchen birthday cake, but we had no idea it was such a popular dessert in Japan.
Our first stop of the day was at Lake Ashi, but we were 1.5 - 2 hours behind schedule. Nao had implied that we were running late, but it wasn't made clear how this would impact our day until later. Lake Ashi is a scenic lake in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture. It's a crater lake that lies along the caldera of Mount Hakone, and on clear days (not today), it offers beautiful views of Mt. Fuji. We were doing a sightseeing cruise on a pirate ship.
We boarded the green ship below.
But no one in our group was quite sure when we were supposed to get off the boat. Nao had said to stay on until the last stop...but last stop out of how many? We eventually deduced that it was the second stop where we were to exit.
From there we got in another line where we weren't quite sure what was going on. Some guy kept barking orders at us in Japanese, but we had no idea what he was saying...and where was Nao when you needed her? (Buying our tickets for the next attraction.) Thankfully, we had one Japanese lady in our group (born in the US but has visited Japan several times already), and she was able to translate for us. Turns out we were being asked to form 3 lines for the aerial tram.

We were marginally more confident on which exit we were supposed to take on the Hakone Ropeway.
At the top, we were able to explore the Hakone Volcano.
It was chilly here, but we were doing a lot of climbing, so we definitely warmed up and worked up an appetite.
So, we stopped for food on our way back. We had orange ice cream, french fries, and a bean paste sponge cake.
You can eat eggs that are hard-boiled in the hot springs - they turn black and smell slightly sulfuric.  Consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity.
Returning to the group, we were met with some bad news. We could either (a) make it to the hotel in time for dinner or (b) miss dinner and make it to Mt. Fuji...but it would likely be too dark to see the mountain by the time we got there anyway if we went with option b. Personally, I didn't care about dinner; I figured I would not be eating much anyway and had pretty much resigned myself to french fries being a joyous meal. (In the end, I did come home a few pounds lighter. Great diet plan - visit a country where you don't like the local cuisine. Oh, and sleep deprivation - I think that helped, too.)  But there was little point in driving up to a mountain we couldn't even see.

We were a bit upset that we were just being informed of this setback now. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that the delay we'd experienced getting to Lake Ashi would cause these kinds of issues, and I would have gladly bypassed most of our other activities to be able to make it to Mt. Fuji. Judy, the Japanese woman in our group and the voice of reason, offered the solution of visiting Mt. Fuji first thing in the morning and missing a temple or two in Kyoto. We voted as a group, and it was unanimous. The bus was still making its way up the mountain to pick us up as traffic was still atrocious.

On the drive to the hotel, we got our first glimpse of Mt. Fuji behind the clouds.
The Tominoko Hotel seemed older, but we had a view of Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji. Of course, it was too dark to take all that in when we arrived.
Dinner was as unappetizing as expected. I again made a meal of mostly french fries, although we did try some cucumber sushi - our first sushi in Japan!
Back in our room, we each tried on a yukata, a casual summer kimono.


Popular Posts