Japan 2004 Day 11: Hakone and Mt. Fuji

Sunday March 21, 2004
Today it was off to Hakone and the Mt. Fuji area. Fuji-san is really picky, so I am hoping we will actually get to see it up close and personal. Yesterday was our last day of our Japan Rail Pass, so today at Tokyo station we bought an all0day JR Pass for the Tokyo area and caught a regular train to Odawara. We could have taken the Shinkansen to this station and saved some time, but we opted to save the money on the pass instead. Once in Odawara, we had to pay an additional 400Yen to compensate for being farther out from Tokyo than the pass covered -oops! From there, we caught another train up the hill to Hakone Yumoto Station where we transferred to the Tozan “Toy Train” line. This line is nothing more than a streetcar which zig-zagged up the hill. 4,650 feet later (in elevation) we arrived at Gora, a nice little mountain town.

Thinking we could make it in our limited time, we purchased tickets for the funicular to Sounzan and from there the Cable Skyway over to Togendai-Ko. It was a great scenic ride but by the time we reached Owakundai, we realized that Fuji-san was now covered with clouds (it was clear when we got off the train back down in Odawara). Also, Owakundai is a transfer station to a smaller cable car to get to Togendai-Ko adn we realized that it was going to take too long to make it back to Tokyo to get a starlight passport for a quick encore visit to Tokyo Disneyland. So instead of continuing on the cable car, we decided to go exploring at the Owadkundai station and hike to the hot springs and sulfur vents around the area. Along the trail there were warning signs about dangerous SO2 gasses and boy did it stink! At the top of the hiking area (around 1,044m) there was a little stand where you could buy hard-boiled eggs freshly cooked in the vents. Daniel wanted one, but they only came in half dozen packages. We did pose for a photo with Mt. Fuji and a postcard of what it would look like on a clear day.

We then reversed course and headed back to Odawara station via the same route we came and headed back to Tokyo. Arriving at 530pm, we headed straight for Tokyo Disney Resort and purchased after 6pm passes. Our whole mission was to ride 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which had been closed earlier in the week. When we arrived at the Reosrt we discovered that instead of a 2600Yen discounted Starlight ticket, it was 4500Yen for the pass that was good for after 3pm on the weekends. Since we had come all this way, we bit the bullet and bought the tickets anyway and went in the parks.

20K was a cool ride – similar ride system as Peter Pan and you get the sensation that you are being submerged and off to explore underwater. We tried Stormrider again and still didn’t understand what was going on and had a great time anyway. Indy was closed so we headed over to 20K again. We had FASTPASSes but they were only good from 925-955 so we just got it the regular line and rode it again. We then headed over to Journey for our 10th ride of the trip. We finally asked for the back row since the previous times we had gotten the front or middle (the middle was especially painful for my knees). The back row was cool, but front is still my favorite.

It was time for shopping for souvenirs (Daniel got some CDs and we ate some more Spaghetti Pomodoro) and we killed some time until 945 when we ventured back to Journey for our 11th trip. Had we timed it better, I am certain we would have made it to 12 times, but we did go out in style in the front row. Final tally-7 front, 3 mids, 1 back. From there it was a sad walk back to the Monorail. We popped into the Emporio for one last look at gift items and then at 1030 we were shooed out of the park.

Back to the hotel for our last night it was a somber trip. Tomorrow we are going to get some last minute sight-seeing in before heading to the airport and back home.