May 15, 2013

Tokyo, Japan 2013 (Day 10 & 11)

Hakone is the only non-Tokyo district in our itinerary (well, technically we also have Osaka but that's because our returning flight is via the Kansai Airport), which was chosen because, 1) it is relatively near Tokyo--just a 2-hour train ride), and 2) it is known for its wonderful view of Mt. Fuji. We were in Tokyo during the cooler part of spring, so going to Mt. Fuji itself might mean that we have to pack warmer clothes and bring hiking gear as well... not really jiving with our "travel light" plans.  So we settled ourselves for the view instead.

Planning the trip, or rather when to go to Hakone, has been a bit of a challenge for us especially because of the unpredictable weather. Hindi naman kasi sulit kapag pumunta ka doon sa kasagsagan ng ulan, or even if the forecast is partly cloudy. For those who've been to Albay to view the Mayon Volcano, or even perhaps just Mt. Makiling in Laguna, you'll know what I mean.  Viewing a mountain that is covered by clouds isn't fun.

Thankfully, during our trip, the forecast from Wunderground was clear.  As in CLEAR, with the sun icon shining on the screen.  It was a blessed day.

Tokyo to Hakone

The Odakyu Line offers a Hakone Freepass, which is very advantageous for tourists, as it offers a round trip ticket from Tokyo (via Shinjuku Station) to Hakone-Yumoto Station, as well as unlimited rides in selected modes of transport within Hakone area (i.e. local train, bus, cable car, ropeway, etc). Plus, the freepass also includes discounts on various facilities in Hakone.  The freepass can be availed for 2 days (5,000 JPY for Adult ticket) or 3 days (5,500 JPY for Adult ticket).  We availed the 2-day freepass, but only did a day trip since we're a bit pressed for time.
Hakone Travel Tips:
  • Plan your trip to Hakone on the best weather possible.  Some of my colleagues who went to Hakone, on an earlier date, were there during the rainy/cloudy days and did not see Mt. Fuji at all. Lugi.
  • Take the earliest train possible.  You can sleep during the trip, anyways.  Mt. Fuji is best seen before noon, when the clouds haven't condensed on the mountain tops and the sun isn't obstructing your view.
  • Upgrade your Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto trip to Limited Express Romancecar (+ 870 JPY).  This is reserved seating, so its best to buy them at the same time you buy your freepass.  This makes the trip way more convenient, as there is no need to change trains in Odawara.  The Hakone Freepass can be bought at any Odakyu Line Station, or for a more tourist-friendly service, go to the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at the Shinjuku Station.
  • Wear a good pair of walking shoes. You need not use hiking shoes for this trip, as the paths are already tourist-friendly.  But as much as possible, wear shoes with a well-cushioned sole.

When we arrived at Hakone, we just followed the Hakone Model Sightseeing Course, which already contains the best route possible to enjoy the tourist landmarks in the area.  My favorite sightseeing spot would have to be in Owakudani, which has the best view of Mt. Fuji.

Apologies in advance if the following set of pictures contain too much Mt. Fuji images... sobrang photogenic kasi ng bundok na 'yun, eh.

Our first glimpse of Mt. Fuji from the train.

Ropeway to Owakudani.

Our first clear view of Mt. Fuji, from the highest peak of the ropeway.



Viewing deck after you disembark from the ropeway.

Buti na lang maraming tourists sa area, pwede kami magpapicture sa kanila.

Steam vents in Owakudani.

Black eggs are a delicacy in Owakudani...

Which are eggs boiled in the sulfur pools around the area.

They're supposed to give you longevity of life.

Another view of Mt. Fuji, with tourist buses in the foreground.


More viewing points while climbing up the trail to the sulfur pools.




Newly-boiled black eggs being harvested from the sulfur pools.




What can I say?  Mt. Fuji is so damn gorgeous.

Lake Ashi (Ashinoko) Sightseeing Cruise.

I like how they made the boat look like a pirate ship of some sort.

A strip of the old highway from the Edo era, lined up with Cedar trees.

I'm not sure what this is, but supposedly they put marker shrine gates on major seaside mountains.

One last glimpse of Mt. Fuji.

Hachiko!!! Shiba dogs are so cute and fluffy.

Last Dinner in Tokyo

At this point I still haven't eaten any toro sashimi yet, so we made it a point to find a restaurant that serves toro sashimi before we leave for Osaka.  We were too exhausted to go back to Tsukiji Market, so we decided to search nearby Akihabara for it.  Good thing that the food floor in Yodobashi Akiba has one restaurant that serves toro sashimi, and other grilled/cooked food for Ge (he doesn't like raw food kasi).

I wasn't able to adjust the white balance of the images correctly, but I DON'T REALLY CARE.  As long as I got my toro sashimi, I am happy. :)






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