I got up way too early and headed to my meeting spot for my tour. I left early with a plan to eat something along the way. I got into the motion of going and saying “I’ll eat when I get here” and then when I got there I would say “I’ll eat when I find the meeting spot”. Luckily, this time I was so early they told me to come back in an hour and I went upstairs and had breakfast. I wanted an egg for some reason so I got an egg with rice and some other random stuff at a little restaurant at the bus station I was sitting in. It was okay and not really what I wanted, I wanted an American breakfast. It was one of the few times I really kind of wanted something familiar. So I got the most familiar looking item I could find and I ate it and was at least full. I was even okay with my poor decision making until the guy next to me got his order of Japanese curry and it smelled awesome. I almost ordered again but this was one of those rare times on this trip where I was actually full. I spent most days running on light or no breakfast the entire time and I have no idea why. Well that’s a lie, I was afraid I would run out of time or miss something. What I learned is that you always miss stuff…. so eat.
After breakfast I headed back to check in and wait for my bus. Then, after like another 30 minutes, we hopped on the bus and it was packed. The tour guide spoke a little on the way out of Tokyo but then went quiet for a while. I plugged in earphones and napped for the rest of the ride. Her voice woke me up as we turned a corner and got a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji.
Unfortunately that was the only clear shot I got of the mountain. When we arrived at our stopping point on Mt. Fuji, that was as high as motorized vehicles are allowed to go, the sun had shown up. Every shot I have of the volcano has some serious lens flare and they just aren’t that good. I did take some shots of the surrounding area that came out nice.
You may notice that I am wearing a Mt. Fuji hat in all the photos I took that day. I looked for my ski cap that morning and could not find it. I really could have it since it was -4 Celsius. when we arrived, my first stop was inside the souvenir shop where I bought the hat to keep my head warm. They had black ski caps but only the ball caps said Mt. Fuji and I figured since I was overpaying anyway I might as well get one that could be a souvenir. with my hat on my head I ran out and took photos of the sun basically. Then I walked to the shrine and took photos and bought a matcha tea cup with a little gold Fujisan on it. Then it was time to leave, I felt rushed on this stop and I was not in love with that part of the tour.
The tour took us away from the mountain and toward a nearby town settled along a lake. We ate lunch there on the third floor of a restaurant/gift shop. The food had some sashimi, soup, whole fried fish and I mean whole (not in following picture) and some various pickled items.
Then we loaded into the bus and headed to Kojiri. Kojiri was the spot along Lake Ashi where we caught the boat for a short cruise on the lake. We were a few minutes early so we all wandered around in the souvenir shop until it was time to board. The cruise along the water was nice and it was filled with some great views.
We arrived in Hakone and that was where we got off. We along with 3 other tour groups headed toward the Mt. Komagatake Ropeway. We were boarding a cable car and heading to the top of the mountain. When we got to the top of Mt. Komagatake I got a nice cloud covered shot of Mt. Fuji and then I focused on the shrine a decent walk away and the wonderful view of the lake below. It was windy and cold at the top of the mountain so I decided to go back a little early. I headed down on a super crowded cable car and got a mint chip ice cream soft serve and wandered in and out of the various souvenir stores they had there before heading down to the pier for some last shots of the lake before heading to get to the bus to head to the train station.
The ride back to Tokyo would be my second trip on the Shinkansen. It was very quick and I did not sleep through it this time. Our stop was Tokyo Station. The same station I stopped at the first time I rode the Shinkansen. It was not too late, still early evening. I decided to walk out of Tokyo Station and try to see what was around. Tokyo Station from outside was pretty neat looking. I started walking toward the Emperor’s Palace but as I got closer I saw how dark the park where it is was and thought better of it. I wandered back toward the station to head to my next stop.
I decided to head to Akihabara and explore that area. Akihabara is n electronic wonderland. There are lots of shops selling computers, cameras and gaming systems. There are also little stores selling every little electronic piece you might want. This was not the reason I wanted to stop there though. It was the presences of anime and otaku culture. You see this is the area where you see people dressed up to honor their favorite manga or anime. It is also where you will find a plethora of maid cafes. What is a maid café? It’s a place where you go in and have someone usually a female dressed like a maid serve you and act really subservient. I did not experience it first hand because I just could not figure out if it was creepy or not. Maybe it was an essential experience that I missed but I think I am pretty ok with it. I learned that winter is not a great time for the costumed folk viewing and that maybe only certain events during the year are ideal. As I walked around I saw Mario and Luigi having a Kart race!
It did have some interesting stores tough but they started closing up shortly after I arrived. So I decided to head back to the hostel, sopping to have sushi at the place near it on the way.