Monday, April 6, 2009

Transportation overload

We did it! It took three bus transfers and a lot of pantomiming with our broken Japanese, but we made it from Hakone to Lake Kawaguchiko near Mount Fuji. Here’s a rundown of today’s transportation madness:

--Hike for 30 minutes toward a Mt. Fuji viewing point until we tired
--Ride from hotel chauffeur to mountain train station
--Ride train to cable car station
--Ride cable car up a mountain to the Hakone ropeway station
--Ride ropeway gondola roundtrip and squint for views of Mt. Fuji despite clouds, admire sulfur
vapor rising from Owakudani volcano
--Ride cable car back to trainstation, accept carved mirror gifts from lovely Japanese woman
happy to practice her English and proud of our Japanese speaking skills (???)
--Ride train to station near hotel
--Walk back to hotel
--Ride bus headed toward Gotemba, pass the Hakone Glass Forest, get off at next bus stop and
schlep luggage back to Glass Forest, pass on ride offer from friendly Japanese man
--Continue bus ride to Gotemba, transfer to bus for Kawaguchiko
--Call hotel and speak broken Japanese to secure ride from station (high five after getting to
say“moshi moshi” on the phone…how Japanese greet one another by telephone)
--Ride in hotel van driven by 14-year-old

Whew! Are you dizzy? I sure as hell am. It may just be the after-effect of the onsen bath at our hotel…whole other story.

The Glass Forest was gorgeous…imagine crystals hanging from tree branches like little sparkling flowers. We loved that parts were open air so you could admire the beautiful mountains and springs outside. We ate lunch al fresco in the cafĂ© and tried not to laugh at the bizareness of a Japanese man singing Italian love songs. No idea about the relevance of hosting this type of Italian museum in Japan, but it was awesome all the same. Too bad we ran out of time to visit the Open Air Museum.

Once we got to our hotel which overlooks Lake Kawaguchiko, one of the Five Finger Lakes near Mt. Fuji, we were starving, so we made reservations for the sushi bar. No one at our hotel speaks English, so the chef brought out the fish he had and we pointed to what we wanted prepared and he told us the name in Japanese. We had tuna and mackerel sashimi and some rolls with a shitload of wasabi that burned my nostrils and eyes. I couldn’t stop laughing when Gina said the Japanese wearing masks (we’ve seen a ton) to prevent allergies from hanami season (cherry blossoms) should just use wasabi to clear out their nasal passages.

Oh, and once the chef served us, he hovered over our table until we started eating, which was unnerving. We told him our sushi was delicious, and he made us another round.

After dinner, we bought beer from the vending machine and tried to sneak it in the onsen (public bath), but then thought better of it.

Tomorrow, we hope to visit the Kubota museum to see seasonal, gorgeous kimono in a breathtaking mountain setting. The exhibit I saw in San Diego in December was the inspiration for taking this trip to Japan. Then, we head to Tokyo.

No comments:

Post a Comment