Right off the bat, I just want to say that there is a big chance I have forgotten some (okay, maybe a lot) details about this trip because it has been a month. All I have is a Notes file on my phone to help me write this and succeeding posts. So sorry. 😦
Alright, here I go.
We really wanted to do all the tourist-y things that we could do in Tokyo kasi di ba, sayang naman ang trip. So.. What is more tourist-y than seeing the infamous Mount Fuji? 😀
When we were crafting our itinerary, we consulted the interwebs for where-to’s and how-to’s. We found a website that offered 1-day Mount Fuji and Hakone Tour JAPANiCAN 1-DAY MT. FUJI TOUR. This was really tempting because, at least, we wouldn’t have to worry about getting to the right bus or train. However, looking at its jam-packed itinerary that starts at 7:30 AM, we were already disheartened. We really didn’t want to spend almost 11 hours with a tour group. We also saw one other option which is to just view Fuji from Heiwa Park in Gotemba, Shizuoka. Gotemba can be reached by bus from the Shinjuku station from what I remember; you just have to buy bus tickets from the Odakyu Sightseeing Center in Shinjuku West Exit. You can also get a Hakone Pass from the same place. More on that here asiatravelblog: Mount Fuji Guide. One other option Jeto found was the Fuji Shibazakura Festival. Shibazakura is a flower that blooms from mid-April to May, creating a carpet of pink flowers. It’s located at the base of Mount Fuji and can be reached via train and then bus. Japan Magazine: Shibasakura I really preferred this option because flowers=pretty thus, carpet of flowers = SO PRETTY ❤
We couldn’t decide what to do so we set aside one day for it. We figured we could better assess the options once we’re in Tokyo (whether our bodies wanted to get up and get out really early, lol)
On our second day in Tokyo lined up for the Toy Story ride, we discussed our Mount Fuji day. Upon the advice of a blogger, asiatravelbug, we checked the weather and cloud forecast for the next day. Things weren’t looking pretty; it was rain and clouds until 9AM. After careful deliberation, we thought maybe when the rain lets up at 9AM, we would be able to see a glimpse of Mount Fuji. Then, we decided to not do the Mount Fuji day tour and Flower Festival; it would be: 1. such a waste if we don’t see Mount Fuji and 2. it might be muddy if we go to the flower festival. DIY Mount Fuji, it is.
We started the our Day 3 quite late. It was raining really hard during the early morning so we decided to leave when the rain supposedly stops at 9AM. Much to our disappointment, the rain did not stop at 9AM. It was still drizzling when we made our way to the train station. We bought coffee from nearby coffee place called Streamer Coffee Company. Take note though, the Japanese don’t usually like getting their store’s photos taken. Jeto tried but was told “No No No”. I managed to get some photos discreetly.
We boarded the train from Shibuya to Shinjuku. From Shinjuku, we rode the Romance Car (reserved seats) bound for Hakone-Yumoto in the Odakyu Line. We strayed from the blog’s suggestion since we wouldn’t be going to Gotemba.
The train ride to Hakone-Yumoto took about two hours. Most of the passengers were elderly going to the onsens. In Hakone-Yumoto, we transferred to the Hakone-Tozan Line riding one of Japan’s oldest trains to go to Gora station for the cable car.
The train goes up the mountain so the view is spectacular with clouds/fog just setting over the greenery, and the temperature cool. The train goes back and forth called switchbacks. According to Wikipedia, it has three switchbacks wherein “for a short distance (corresponding to the middle leg of the letter “Z”), the direction of travel is reversed, before the original direction is resumed.)“to ascend steep sections. Coooooool.
Inside the train
Once in Gora, we continued our journey and rode the Hakone Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan. In Sounzan, we found out that Owakudani was closed due to volcanic gases. Owakudani is famous for sulfuric eggs.
With no other destination possible, we rode a bus going to Togendai where we will ride the Hakone Ropeway going to Lake Ashi or Hakone Lake. During the ride, you should be able to see Mount Fuji in all its glory. Sadly for us, the clouds did not float away so we had zero visibility of the shy mountain.
These were actually taken on our way back, hehe. We were too busy looking for Mount Fuji on our way earlier, we didn’t take photos.
Upon reaching the lake, we saw a ship. I think this was the cruise included in the day trip package we saw. We walked beside the lake and found a lush forest? park?
Once we finished taking the perfect photos, we listened to our grumbling tummies and had lunch (Katsu) while people-watching.
Feeling that our Mount Fuji experience is complete, we were on our way back with more fog than earlier.
We took the ropeway, bus, and cable car but this time, we rode the Shinkansen! In Odawara station (I think this is the station before Hakone Yumoto), we waited for our Shinkansen bound for Tokyo. Passing trains were scary and amazing at the same time. I was trembling as they passed by but at awe after they’ve left.
It took us only 30 minutes to reach Tokyo station, I think. Not really sure but it was incredibly fast. In fairness, there were a lot of people riding the Shinkansen.
We decided to explore that area for the night. We went inside Daimaru, a department store, to browse at Tokyu Hands. I was looking calligraphy and lettering materials but I didn’t find any. I did find a stress..face?
We went down to where the pastries were and my god, it was heaven. CAKES, PUDDINGS, BISCUITS, CHOCOLATES AND MORE SWEETS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOKED.
We walked to the Marounouchi Building to get our tempura fix in Tempura Funabashiya Our search for tempura brought us inside the Tokyo station which was just wow. The interior made me feel like I was in England, not in Japan. Funny how getting lost can take you to places.
Finally, we arrived at the Marounouchi Building after a few minutes. I think offices are in the lower floors and restaurants on the highest floors.
It was a Friday; a lot of people were meeting up and having dinner and drinks. Tempura Funabashiyaa was recommended to us by another cousin who recently went to Tokyo so we were really adamant in eating there. Sadly, the receptionist or waitress (?) told us that they were already closed. We told her that their sign says they should still be open but she was not persuaded. We took our frustrated and hungry selves to a different restaurant which served tonkatsu. We ordered one big plate of minced shrimp, king prawn, pork, pork belly, eggplant and scallops katsu which were too much for us. The best ones for me would be the pork belly and minced shrimp. The dinner was good but it was not tempura. 😦
After dinner, time to go home.
Some thoughts on this day:
- It takes a very long time to get to Hakone with a very rare chance of seeing Mount Fuji. We took about four hours total. Plan well. Weather can change any minute; it’s better to have back up plans.
- It is expensive to go there. I think we reloaded our train pass a lot of times. Even the non-Shinkansen route will hurt the pocket.
- I really would like to go back and explore Hakone and the other mountains more 🙂