Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Merry Christmas Japanese style! We woke up snug in our pods in Tokyo and set about catching our first bullet train out to the country. The train was very fast and very clean. An attendant came through each car selling snacks and drinks off a cart and before leaving each car she would turn and face us all while giving a little bow. This happened on every train we would take in the country and without fail- charming!
We were headed to Hakone, a mountainous area southwest of Tokyo famous for onsen (hotsprings), views of Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashinoko and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns). We had reservations at Senkyoro, a ryokan over 100 years old.
Upon arriving I was excited to do the Hakone Round Trip tour where you travel on 5 different forms of transportation around the area. We boarded the bus and headed up and around the mountain getting off at Moto- Hakone. From here we walked thru the Ancient Cedar Avenue and also the Checkpoint Museum.
We finally got to Lake Ashi and were excited to board the pirate ships which would take us to the other side but the weather had turned from gorgeous, bright and sunny to windy, dark and stormy looking so the ships were cancelled for the afternoon. grrrrrr! We grabbed a bus and headed back to the train station to collect our bags we had stored in lockers. We then took a cab to the ryokan (ok so only 3 forms of transportation this day!)
As noted previously we had sent our luggage ahead of us via a courier found at 7-11. I can't recommend this more highly! Our luggage was waiting for us in our room while we were able to travel for a day with just a little carry on bag each. This was so nice since we were figuring out the trains and multiple stations for the first time.
A woman dressed in traditional clothing showed us to our room and then proceeded to make tea for us while we sat on the floor around our table on tatami mats. This was our first experience with the low traditional table and zabuton cushion. Once we had tea she gave us each a yukata (robe), obi (tie) and tabi socks. Can you imagine the giggles? Yes, we are very mature and had to do many many poses in our robes while having martini's made by Dayne-san.
Our room was great! A large living room with tatami mat floors where our table was and where we would sleep later. A small sitting room with a balcony. A nice bathroom seperated by toilet, shower/bath and sink areas. And a mini bar filled with One Cup sake!
We had our own little Christmas present party complete with Forest in her Santa hat. It was fun thinking of the past Christmas' we've spent together- on safari last year with about 105F tempatures, in Paris a few years back and handling an unfortunate incident with some power failures...
We booked a private onsen before dinner and enjoyed a VERY hot soak in the mineral springs. Our bath was in a room that had an open wall to the forests. it was very pretty and HOT! The water is so thick with minerals that you can't see into it. And it's HOT!! Forest and Dayne were super troopers since the baths are taken nude and we had only had one martini each at this point!
We made our way back to our room just in time for our room host to arrive and let us know that she was going to start serving us dinner. The 12 course meal was beautiful and artistic, we had brought our own champagne to go along with everything and had a really good time!
After dinner they set up our futons and gave us different yakatas to sleep in. More giggling and posing and picture taking. We had quite a little party that night with champagne, japanese whiskey and sake while doing our own style of karaoke and dancing! Merii Kurisumasu!!!
The next morning Forest and I headed to the women's bath to soak a bit, it was a large beautiful bath with a wall of windows looking out to the mountains. We were the only one's using it so we didn't have to worry about committing some major onsen faux pas!
We met Dayne for breakfast in the large cafateria like room, lit with my favorite flourescent lights. ugh. They served us so many dishes for breakfast that even after we asked multiple times what went with what we had no clue! I mean look at all this, it is for ONE person!!
We did get to pick back up out tour around Hakone that day. It was sunny and clear as we boarded the cable car and got amazing views of Mt. Fuji while heading up to see the volcanic activity in the crater of Mt. Hakone.
And we finally got to ride on the pirate ship too!
Official mode of transportation count while in Hakone...6! train, bus, foot, taxi, cable car and pirate ship! Hakone photo set is here.