Sunday, November 20, 2005

Busy Weekend - Saturday at Mt Fuji
by Angela

Well, it is now Monday morning here. We had quite the busy weekend. Many people replied via email about our blog, it was good to hear from you. However, I am just getting the chance now to reply
to emails and update our blog. Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day. One of Dan's co-workers, Rich, is also here in Tokyo. He encouraged us to sign up for a tour of Mt. Fuji and the Hakone area. It was an amazing trip. We started out by taking a tour bus to the Mt. Fuji Visitor Center. Here is the view from the visitor center:

The cool picture taken above was one that Rich took with his camera. Here is a picture of the 3 of us posing with the mountain playing a decidedly lesser role in the picture. Notice that we are wearing our official "we are with the tour" stickers on our shirts. Notice also that Dan and I are not wearing winter coats yet. It was kind of chilly at the base, but not too bad. The layering was working for us.

Next, we took the bus half way up the 3,776m volcano to the 5th Station. This is where people start the 5-7 hour walk up to the top (but only in the summer). The view of the mountain was pretty cool, but the view of the valley was amazing.

Of course, this tiny bookmark type picture would never do the scene justice. There was a beautiful
lake. The other neat thing were the layers upon layers of mountains. Over on the left side of the picture, you see mountains, then clouds, then some mountains peaking out above the clouds.

After the Mt. Fuji experience, we had lunch, then took a drive through the countryside to get to our next destination, Hakone. We went through many small, cute towns. Some of them included rice
patties, some of them included Denny's.

When we arrived in Hokone, we took a short boat ride over to the place where the cable car goes up the mountain. On the boat we met some people from the United States (one was born in Kalamazoo, MI) who had just finished trecking through Nepal. They highly recommended the experience. However, after further discussion, we concluded that is is a trip that you could take a
kid on, but it works better without. I wonder what types of trips are kid friendly. After talking with the trecking-Americans, we arrived at the base of the mountain. Here is a picture of the cable car we took up the mountain.

The view from the top was amazing. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. This is probably because Japan is the first set of volcanic islands that I have ever visited. We could see the lake below, the mountains beyond that, the Pacific Ocean beyond that. We could look 3 different directions and see the ocean. We could even see Tokyo from the top. Here is a picture of the lake we had been boating on, Lake Ashi.

Beyond the sun-lit mountains is the ocean. The ocean is also the body of water on the left (also beyond mountains). The valley also has a golf course. You can see the cables for the cable car on the right. Also on top of the mountain was a small Shinto shrine. Here is a picture of the shrine sitting on top of a grassy knoll.

Here's Dan and me on the mountain (also on a grassy knoll). Rich had to risk his life to take this picture, there was something moving in the grass near him, probably a small mole or maybe a large bug. The sun was setting while we were up there, so the lighting was low and bright. Notice that we did wear warm coats at this point. It was below 0 degrees C.

We left the mountain and its various views via cable car, then we returned to Tokyo via a bus to the bullet train stop. The bullet train is very fast. Here is our train:

After returning, we went out to eat at El Torito, a mexican restaurant. Mmmmm... A success in the daily search for food for Angela. A good way to end the day. :)

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