Friday, August 26, 2011

My last day in Tokyo

It's taken me a long time to finish my exciting trip to Tokyo part of my blog, but now that I must stay awake until at least 9, I have plenty of time. Must get my body on schedule quickly, it's very hard, making my head hurt, but I am going to be thankful tomorrow. Herca and Mark are helping!

On my last day in Tokyo I went to Mount Fuji aka Fuji-san. I didn't hike it; I was ill prepared for such a hike so I opted to just take a visit and paid handsomely for a bus tour of Fuji, the area Hakone, and the ability to ride the shinkansen (the bullet train) back to the Shinagawa eki. (Station) 1st off, today was the only day where there was NO WAY, I could get lost. The tour guide picked me up at the hotel where I then met the other tourist as well as my tour guide Junko and traveled on another bus to Mt Fuji. Junko was very soft spoken, as many Japanese are under most circumstances, and her voice was very pleasant, pretty sure I could have been lulled to sleep. Of course when out having fun, like all of us do, they like to cut loose. I am also intrigued by listening to Japanese conduct business with each other; I can never understand how they hear each other! While riding through the city, I sat at the back of the bus, I had the big window with no lines in the middle and then I didn’t have to talk to anyone. I also got some pretty good shots of Tokyo Tower and other parts of the city. It took some time to get to Fuji-san. For some reason I was under the impression the mountain was not far in to the countryside and actually in the prefecture Tokyo was in, this was not the case. We weren’t at Mt. Fiji till noon-ish after setting on our way at about 9:45 am. It was cloudy the Sunday I went so on the way up I could not see Mt. Fuji from far away, we had to get to station 5 for the mountain to peak through the clouds. I was disappointed that we didn’t stay longer up at Mt. Fuji, but really, there isn’t much to do but eat and hike. While I was there the clouds did actually part, we got to see the top and I wrote Fuji-san a message and received a pin for sending a message to Fuji-san. I then proceeded to have my picture taken with Fuji-san and due to the size of the blow-up mountain, I am thinking mini Fuji-san was a woman.
The bus

Tokyo Tower

The famous Ginza shopping district

Going towards Fuji

We then traveled to Hakone ( and then had lunch at a hotel before going to Owakudani Valley (also in link). Here, I ate with an American who lived in Beijing, I believe his name was Brian….or I am making that part up, a Belgium gentleman, and a lady who lived in Singapore for the last 5 years. At 1st I wasn’t in to chatting with them, but it soon changed. Owakudani Valley was home to a massive, beautiful lake with a gorgeous view as well as a steaming hot spot that was used to boil eggs, among other things. Due to the water, the egg’s shell turned black and these eggs were called kuro tamago (black eggs). The legend says, if you eat 1, you will live 7 extra years, eat 2, you will live 14 extra years, eat 3 and you will have a tummy ache, HA! I ate one, shared one with a young German man that was on my tour bus, and forgot about giving the rest away. You got a bag of 5 for 500 yen and I wasn’t staying in Tokyo long enough to eat the rest. To get to the part of the valley for the eggs we took a sky gondola up and I was okay with this, until I realized how high up we were, it was still very exciting. The eggs had their own gondola too! That was pretty neat, they had to get the eggs up there somehow and the little metal basket held the eggs only. If you felt adventurous you could try wasabi ice cream, I did not, but I believe the young German man did, I should have asked him how it tasted. The Belgium man walked and talked with me to where the eggs were sold and though I was getting the stranger danger, OPSEC vibe from him, I think I handled myself well and I found him quite charming. I think I had him and the rest of my tour group I ate with fooled in to thinking I was younger than I actually am. Back down the mountain, we rode a pirate ship to the other side of the lake. The lady from Singapore, whose name was Gigi, kept me company then, I made a point to not entertain conversation with the men at this point for the most part. On the ship there was a “captain” who for some reason had to hold on to his hat, I am not sure if this is the captain’s pose? On the pirate ship, along with singing the many themes of One Piece in my head, I went by the gift shop and couldn’t resist buying a Kitty-chan (What Hello Kitty is referred to as here in Japan) pirate. They had One Piece items there too of course. (Those who don’t know what One Piece is, google it) The trip was over and then we headed to a station where you could ride the train back to Tokyo versus taking a 2 hour bus ride back to your hotel. I was a seasoned train rider then so I couldn’t pass up my chance to ride the famous shinkansen back in to the big city. The bullet train was fast, duh, and it only took about 30 minutes back to Tokyo! We were over an hour out of the city! I could never figure out how people could sleep on the trains and not miss their stops but there were people passed out. Noise is a big no no on the trains in Tokyo so I was trying to be as quiet as possible holding my walking sticks I bought at Mt. Fuji, and of course I had to buy the ones with jingle bells on them. At my stop, I said good bye to Gigi and exchanged pleasantries and made sure to take a taxi back to the New Sanno.

The gondola

Where they boil the eggs


Oh the Shinkansen

Kitty-chan and the kuro tamago

The pirate ship! One of three. 
YARGH!  I think there was a rule, if you looked at him he had to smile and nod.

I had made sure to order a nice Japanese breakfast the morning I was to set off. I had everything ready and a full belly. After reading that it took about 50 minutes to get to the airport I made sure to set off early. I found out, it takes 50 minutes on days that I am not going to the airport because the driver hopped on the expressway and it took maybe 30 minutes, if that. I was waiting around to be able to check in but I didn’t mind, I was used to waiting around at an airport. I went home on the fourth of July and my good friend, Anthea picked me up and then later I went to a beach party. It was such a lovely trip, I cannot wait to go back and share Tokyo with Mark. Maybe the Sky Tree will be built by then. Tokyo is a wonderful city and if given the chance to see it in its entire splendor, please do! I can only imagine how amazingly beautiful the rest of Japan is.
The view on the way to the airport.

Sayonara from the Scott!!!

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