I was just reading an article on finding the perfect person to travel with and it reminded me of two very special people. Two people who are my favourite travel buddies. My mum and dad.
Last month I was lucky enough to have my mum and dad visit me here in Japan. It was so special having the opportunity to show them around my current home, where I have built my life over the last six months, introduce them to my friends here and give them an insight into my life in Japan.
We spent a bit of time exploring Nagoya, retracing some of the ‘touristy’ steps that I have already taken and written about on my blog. We also spent a memorable day in Hakone, a part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100km from Tokyo and is famous for the stunning views of Mt Fuji, something we were all looking forward to.
From Nagoya it took approximately one hour to get to Owadura on the Shinkansen. From Odawura we spent the day exploring the Hakone area on various methods of travel including the Hakone Tozan Train, the cable car, the ropeway, the sightseeing cruise and bus.
The first leg of the trip on the train was so beautiful. It was an old two carriage train which took us up the mountain. There was only one train track the entire way and so, when the train needed to change directions to zig zag up the mountain, the train would pull into a side track, the driver would change ends of the train, and we would wait for the train coming down the mountain to park next to us before our train could start to use the track.
We arrived to Gora after about half an hour. The tourist track is so easy to follow, with the next leg of the trip starting at the end of the one before it. We got to the top of the cable car track and realised we forgot to get our stamp for our ‘free prize’ (if you have ever met either my dad or myself you would know that we never pass up something free). At this point the weather was still quite nice, the sun was out and the possibility of getting a great view of Mt Fuji was as promising as ever. We headed back down on the cable car to Gora, to get our stamp, and by the time we made it back to Sounzan, the wind had blown over the rain clouds.
On board the ropeway and the clouds completely engulfed us. It was quite surreal being so high, not knowing what was underneath us, watching cable cars travelling in the opposite direction appear from nowhere. We transferred at Owakudani, where we stood in the rain, imagining the view of Mt Fuji, as we stood on top of the volcanic mountain. We stopped for a quick Ramen lunch and then mum and I tried some ‘volcanic ice cream’, which turned out to be ice cream which had been coloured black to symbolise volcanic ash, while dad stood in the rain laughing at us. It was quite tricky because it was melting faster than we could eat it, which left us with black lips, teeth and tongues!
The cable car then took us down to Lake Ashi, which was formed with the violent eruption of the volcano of Mt Hakone in prehistoric times, where we took a boat ride across to Moto Hakone-Ko. The boat trip took about 30 minutes. It was so much fun, despite the weather, we spent the majority of our time out on the deck, taking photos, being silly and taking in the atmosphere. We decided to have a wander around once we got of the sightseeing boat to have a look at the Hakone – Jijna shrine, a shrine on the edge of the lake which is rich in history.
We had done so much in the day, and it was starting to get a bit dark and gloomier (there was a typhoon on the way), so we decided to call it a day and head back to Odawara to make our way home to Nagoya. A word of advice using the Shinkansen, which we learnt from experience this day. Try to plan your trip and stay to time frames – otherwise you will end up on a train which takes twice as long to get to your destination but costs the same amount as the fast train!
There are two or three-day passes which you can purchase and cover all transport from Owadara. Although we were only in the area for one day, we bought the two-day pass for 4000 Yen which was still cheaper than paying for individual tickets for each leg of the trip.
Out of the four seasons in Hakone, we came during the Hydrangea season. With the unpredictable weather of the rainy season it would probably be best to come during the cherry blossom season during April, or later in the year during the silver grass season (September – October). Although our weather wasn’t spectacular, we still had an amazing day full of laughter, adventure and memories… and yes, despite it being a billboard at the train station, mum and dad got their photo with Mt Fuji in the background!