The Model Tour

We have just been down swimming in the natural hot springs pool here at the hotel [not the onsen as that is sex segregated]. It is a great example of what the Japanese do well; there is a locker for your shoes and another for your clothes, with the key on a waterproof wrist band. There are showers with shampoo provided, a watercooler with cups, a spin-dryer for your swimmers and plastic bags to carry your swimmers back to your room! Similarly, it rained today and there is a man at the door to either give you an umbrella or to place your umbrella into a bag so you don’t drip on the carpet.

We are still enjoying wearing the Yukata.

Matching Yukata!

Matching Yukata!

The main activity today was to go on the Hakone “model Tour”, with the aim of seeing Fuji; well that part didn’t work out due to low cloud, but it was still fascinating and beautiful. First catch a train!

Hakone-Tozan train

Hakone-Tozan train

At Gora we transferred to a Cablecar.

Gora Cablecar

Gora Cablecar

The cablecar delivered us high up on a mountain at Sounzan, past lots of beautiful autumn trees [but too hard to photograph through the windows!]. Then we transferred to a gondola to continue to Owakudani where there is a volcanic crater and lots of thermal activity. Apparently eating the black eggs cooked there bestows longevity, but we all piked out!

Autumn leaves from the gondola

Autumn leaves from the gondola

Volcanic hillside

Volcanic hillside

The Gondola

The Gondola

Japanese schoolgirls with their longevity egg! Much braver than us.

Japanese schoolgirls with their longevity egg! Much braver than us.

Next stage was another gondola down the otherside of the mountain down to Lake Ashi to cruise on these amazing boats…Disney’s idea of a pirate galleon.

Our gorgeous ship

Our gorgeous ship

Tim entertaining the school children [they all cheered and clapped his performance!]

Tim entertaining the school children [they all cheered and clapped his performance!]

Mine, mine....!

Mine, mine….!

Found Wally

Found Wally

Those who know me well are probably wondering where the birds are! Here are a few lovely birds from today;

Daurian Redstart [female] at the Fujiya Hotel gardens

Daurian Redstart [female] at the Fujiya Hotel gardens

Grey Heron in front of a waterfall at Hakone-yumoto

Grey Heron in front of a waterfall at Hakone-yumoto

Common Kingfisher at Hakone-yumoto

Common Kingfisher at Hakone-yumoto

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Lap of Luxury

For the next two nights we are staying at the historic Fujiya Hotel at Miyanoshita. It is just gorgeous and the view from our window is very exotic!

Tim & Nick eating lunch

Tim & Nick eating lunch

Part of the Fujiya Hotel

Part of the Fujiya Hotel

Part of the view from our window

Part of the view from our window

After lunch we caught the switchback train to the Hakone Sculpture Park. It is a large site with both forested and open areas with many pieces of art to wander around and view. My favourite was a large tower of stained glass.

Leadlight glass tower

Leadlight glass tower

Leadlight glass tower

Leadlight glass tower

Little girl

Little girl

A Pegasus mishap!

A Pegasus mishap!

Glass sculpture

Glass sculpture

Ivy head...

Ivy head…

Chimera

Chimera

Sphere in a sphere

Sphere in a sphere

My Dad sent me a link to this park about a year ago, saying what a fabulous place to visit it would be. He was looking forward to hearing all about it and I am sad that I will never be able to showing him what a beautiful and interesting [& somewhat kooky] place it is.

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Marvelous Macaques

We have had 2 busy days; mostly travelling out to Nagano and onto to Yudakana to see the “Snow Monkeys” as this group of Japanese Macaques are known as. It was lovely to get up out of the city and see all the beautiful autumn leaves, distant snow capped mountains and to wander along through an alpine forest. The monkeys were just amazing, wandering around as if the people weren’t there at all! In fact you have to take care not to trip over them. More later,as it is late, but a few photos to show what an amazing day it was.

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Living the high life

I don’t think I mentioned that Rod & my room is on the 32nd floor, but the boys room is on the 16th floor! We expected to be adjoining, or at least close…however we are both close to the stairwell & the lifts are so fast & frequent that it is astonishingly easy to forget they are 16 floors below.

Our hotel in Shinjuku

Our hotel in Shinjuku

It is clear today and from their room you can see Fuji!

Mt Fuji from the hotel!

Mt Fuji from the hotel!

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I do like to be beside the seaside; especially when there is no tsunami!

Today we headed off to a place called Hase, about an hour south of Tokyo. It has apparently had big tsunamis in the past and there were many warning signs, but thankfully the ocean stayed calm and flat!

Giant Buddha at Hase

Giant Buddha at Hase

The Giant Buddha used to be in a giant hall, but that was washed away centuries ago. It is an impressive sight in its current forested site.

Just be chance we saw a beautiful garden down a side street and after wandering closer for a look, couldn’t resist going inside to see it properly. There were lily ponds full of Koi, a 13th century bell, fox statues, gold idols, beautiful trees and a special shrine sacred to “unborn children” [stillbirths and miscarriages]. There were countless statues here, each one representing a lost child.

Statues to remember unborn children

Statues to remember unborn children

Gold Idol

Gold Idol

Tsunami warning sign

Tsunami warning sign

We had a walk on the beach; fairly grey but notable for a huge flock of crows eating huge jellyfish!

Halloween frog

Halloween frog

Cute Girl on the train

Cute Girl on the train

Halloween decorations are everywhere in Japan; it seems to be extremely popular.

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Sacred to startling

Today was a day of contrasts; we began with a visit to Meji-jingu Shrine deep in a beautiful old forest, with Shinto weddings taking place and adorable children dressed in traditional costumes attending for blessings. Then we couldn’t visit Yoyogi Park as it was closed due to “an emergency” [turned out to be an outbreak of Dengue fever…] so ended up at a lovely street market and a stroll down into Harajuku with lots of amazingly dressed people. Elaborate filled crepes seemed to be a specialty, so we tried some [Peach Sorbet was incredibly delicious!]. Lots of shops have elaborately costumed men & women to lure in customers. Some of the girls look like plastic dolls bought to life!
Finally we visited Akihabara for Tim to play in a famous games arcade [& to admire the locals playing]. Too loud for us so we retreated & picked him up later! Heading home the trains were packed but somehow it is still easy to get on and off as everyone is so orderly.
Back at the hotel we collapsed tiredly for a while & then headed out to buy dinner from the local convenience store. Sounds dubious I know, but the food is cheap and delicious. Afterwards Rod & I went for a walk to East Shinjuku to admire the neon lights and nightlife & found the infamous Robot Restaurant…not that we went in but there were a few rather startling robots out the front!

Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku

Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku

Girls at Akihabara

Girls at Akihabara

Nick with his black Halloween Burger

Nick with his black Halloween Burger

Costumes at Harajuku

Costumes at Harajuku

Unicorn Girl

Unicorn Girl

Fairy girl at the markets

Fairy girl at the markets

Bonsai flowers

Bonsai flowers

Enough queuing!

Enough queuing!

All dressed up for the shrine

All dressed up for the shrine

Meji-jingu Tori gate

Meji-jingu Tori gate

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Not Lost in Translation….

Struggling with having a post with photos AND words!! Managed to post a version with only pictures and lost one with only text…Anyway, we arrived safely this morning after flying all night & managed to safely catch our first Japanese train…they even serve refreshments onboard [the most delicious apple juice I have ever had…]. We left our luggage at our hotel and braved the trains again and the subway. The zoo seemed like a good start for slightly braindead travellers & we enjoyed the Pandas, Toucans, Otters, Snowy Owl and other animals very much. Lunch was pizza Japanes style and it was pretty good.

Statue at Ueno Park

Statue at Ueno Park

Asakua

Asakua

Giant Lantern at Asakusa

Giant Lantern at Asakusa

Panda at Ueno Zoo

Panda at Ueno Zoo

Since we were in the right part of Tokyo, we headed off to Senso-jii Temple, past the never ending souvenir shops [succumbing here and there…] and the incredible mass of people we eventually made it to the temple. The huge paper Lanterns at the entrance made a good photo op. The train home was a solid mass of people but we still managed to get off and stay together. Everybody we have spoken to have been very helpful and pointed us in the right direction if needed. We have already experienced some amazing toilets, yummy food, fast trains and lots of quirky signs. Lots more to come!

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