Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A wonderful last day in Tokyo!

We were fortunate to have been invited by the mother of one of our middle school students to accompany her and her daughter to Hakone, a resort town outside of Tokyo famous for its hot springs and spectacular views of Mt. Fuji. Mie and Kyra picked us up at the hotel, and off we went to our favorite hubub, Shinzuku Station, to catch a train to Hakone.

During the 90 minute ride we enjoyed looking out at rice paddies and quaint towns. We also enjoyed the Japanese trains, so comfortable and clean. The seats turn around easily so the four of us could face each other and talk. Kyra entertained us with her new Nintendo game that creates a world of characters. She has created facsimiles of her mother and other relatives, as well as many of her teachers at SBS. On the way home she created me! That was pretty funny...

Once at our destination, we quickly grabbed a cab and headed up the mountain to a wonderful old hotel that was built 121 years ago to entertain foreign guests . We had originally had reservations at the traditional Japanese restaurant there, but we had missed the noon seating and there weren't any openings for the next one. Here's the outside of the restaurant; it looked charming:

That was disappointing, but we were able to get in to the French restaurant in the hotel - a dining room that was magnificent (as was the food, for that matter). We enjoyed a special menu being offered, and it was delicious. The room is wood paneled with some embellishments:

When we'd finished eating (a truly unforgettable meal!), we took another cab to climb higher into the mountain. We weren't at the top yet! The ride took a good 5 to 10 minutes, and we were dropped off at what felt like the edge of nowhere, but we had a bit of a hike up the path to some natural hot springs. It was a lovely walk, even in the quiet rain and fog of the day (no; I didn't tell you this yet because it was essentially unimportant. We had a great time despite kinda crummy weather). Here's what we saw on our walk:

When we had seen enough, we walked back down to a tram option for descending the mountain:

After the tram, it was a street car which is how we got back to the very bottom of the mountain and the visible town. We walked around a bit, sampled some native foods, and got back on the train to return to Tokyo. A really fun day. Arigato, Mie and Kyra!

That night we went to bed a little early...(of course, we had to leave the next morning).

I'm having a bit of trouble with the internet and uploading of pictures so I'm sorry not to be able to show all that we have done. Will get them up when I can!

We have thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Tokyo, the generous nature of the Japanese people, and the incredible hospitality of so many of the people we have seen. But for now we are moving on to the next destination...Seoul!

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