Day 11 - Tuesday 7 April - Osaka to Hakone

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Had to wake up pretty early as we had an 8:13 train. Went down to breakfast at seven and had to deal with early morning epic breakfast queue. So had no choice but to wait. They had the asparagus wrapped in bacon again, which they hadn't had since the first morning, so had six of them :)

Managed to check out ok and hobbled slowly to the station (Stu was feeling quite sick from medication withdrawal :( ). Didn't get very good seats on the train. Oh well. Trip was otherwise uneventful. Got to Odawara and found the Hakone Tozan info centre, where we bought our Hakone Free Passes (3900 yen for a two-day pass). Except for Stu who decided in advance he wasn't going to go on any of the cable cars etc, so he just got a bus ticket (which you take a ticket for when you get on the bus and pay the appropriate amount when you get off - which to Moto-Hakone was 1150 yen). The bus trip up into the mountains was very cool, but pretty much impossible to photograph due to the number of trees next to the road. They also don't have anywhere for luggage, so we had to have it all in the aisle of the bus - not terribly convenient for everyone else trying to get on and off. So we sat right up the back to minimise the annoyance.

Bento bus
I read someone's blog that called this bus the "bento bus" because of how crammed it was - they weren't kidding! 

Arrived in Moto-Hakone about forty-five minutes later and found the hotel without any trouble. Dumped our bags and then did the whole tourist circuit which involves a boat trip on a pirate ship (!), two different "rope ways", a cable car, a train and a bus.

Had about a five minute wait for pirate ship - a motorised "tall ship" which puttered up Lake Ashi in about half an hour. Very kitsch but very cool. There was a dressed up pirate on board, although he said no photos (cause they charge to have a photo taken with him).

Pirate ship on Lake Ashi
Pirate ship on Lake Ashi 

Our hotel and Moto-Hakone from the ship on Lake Ashi
Our hotel and Moto-Hakone from the ship on Lake Ashi 

Hakone Shrine tori
Hakone Shrine tori 

Another Pirate Ship on Lake Ashi
Another Pirate Ship on Lake Ashi 

Togendai and the ropeway to Ubako
Togendai and the ropeway to Ubako

Arrived in Togendai and caught the first rope way up to (Owakudani, 1044m) where we got off and were hit by sulphur fumes!  This part of the mountain had active volcanic stuff happening, and further down the mountain there appeared to be a sulphur mine. Wandered up the hill to where all the active stuff was happening and got some of the black hard-boiled eggs. These eggs are just ordinary eggs that they hard boil in the boiling water from the ground. The chemical reaction with the minerals in the water turns the egg shells black. Looks quite spectacular but inside the eggs are perfectly normal and taste just like eggs. Apparently eating one will increase your life by seven years. Not that you can buy just one, you have to buy a bag of five of them for 500yen hrmmm. Everyone except Andrew had one. And these things were still *hot* !

This is what we *should* have been able to see from the ropeway
This is what we *should* have been able to see from the ropeway 

Lake Ashi from the ropeway
Lake Ashi from the ropeway 

Mountainside at Owakudani
Mountainside at Owakudani 

Natto next to a black egg at Owakudani
Natto next to a black egg at Owakudani 

Hot springs
Hot springs 

They boil the eggs in the natural springs
They boil the eggs in the natural springs 

Black eggs turned black by minerals in the water
Black eggs turned black by minerals in the water 

But the eggs are perfectly normal on the inside!
But the eggs are perfectly normal on the inside!
Photo by Andrew 

Ropeways at Owakudani
Ropeways at Owakudani 

The Nats wanted to ride the little train!
The Nats wanted to ride the little train! 

Sulphur deposits
Sulphur deposits

This bit of the mountain would have had a spectacular view of Mt Fuji, except it was hiding behind a screen of clouds and haze :( So was a little disappointing, but not unexpected.

Got the next rope way down to (Sounzan) where we changed to the cable car. And at the bottom of that changed to a train. It was a cute little train line with pretty scenery and amazingly tight turns on the tracks. We only stayed on the train for two stops, but I'd liked to have stayed on longer. Definitely need to spend more time here next time. Finally we caught the bus back down the hill to Moto-Hakone.

Hakone Tozan Cable Car
Hakone Tozan Cable Car

Checked into the hotel properly - biggest room ever! (in terms of Japan hotels heh). We got a lake view western style, Nat and Andrew got a mountain view western style and Natty and Sandra got a lake view Japanese style room. We'd not had one before so all piled into their room to have a look :) (taking shoes off first of course heh).

Sandra and Natty in their room
Sandra and Natty in their room

Nat and Andrew needed to go to the 7-eleven to get some cash so I tagged along to see if I could see Mt Fuji - as the clouds had mostly cleared. And saw it we did, right on sunset!  Was very pretty, but there was so much haze the view was just of a silhouette.

Lake Ashi and Hakone Shrine Tori
Lake Ashi and Hakone Shrine Tori (view from our room!) 

Sunset over Lake Ashi
Sunset over Lake Ashi 

Mount Fuji!!
Mount Fuji!!

Came back in time for dinner at the hotel. It was a set menu of Japanese entrees (which were "interesting" and met with mixed response from the others), a chicken and mushroom hotpot (exceptionally nom!) and two massive plates of crab claws (!). Andrew is allergic and the Nats turned their noses up at them, so Sandra, Stu and I spent like half an hour shelling the silly things heh. So much effort for such a little bowl of crab meat heh.

Crab legs times lots!
Crab legs times lots!

Didn't do much with the rest of the evening yet it's still quite late. And we want to be up very early tomorrow to see if we can see Fuji-san .. oops...

Steps walked today: 8401
Photos taken by me: 243
Photos taken by Stu: 121

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