Hakone-Mt. Fuji Circuit

I bravely tackled the intimidating pressures and congestions of city life by removing myself from Tokyo physically, escaping to the Hakone-Mt-Fuji circuit the day after I landed, buying a Hakone Free Pass (dealt with solely by Odakyu) which allows free transportation within this region. A day trip had to suffice despite the large amount of moving around and travelling.

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Ueno (Tokyo) – Shinjuku (Tokyo) took 40 minutes. The Odakyu Romance car (just a fast train with a fancy name) took nearly 1.5 hrs, depositing its hapless passengers at Hakone-Yumoto station, from which one’s own creativity kicks in.

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I chose to take yet another slow ride – yet another 40 minutes – via the Tozan line up to Gora before boarding the cable car for a short ride upwards to Sounzan.

The ropeway at Sounzan terminates at Togendai (30 minutes) offers several stops in between, and culminates with a slow sightseeing cruise (another 40 minutes again!) on Lake Ashi. I got to step on snow, see some cats with their unfriendly owner and see Mt Fuji quite clearly.

That was the fun bit – the furry moggies probably wanted food.

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Hakone-Machi was the first stop at which I hurriedly disembarked, opting to walk through the old Edo highway of cypress trees built originally in the 17th century to shelter those who walked from the heat of summer and the cold, snowy winter.

It wasn’t a long walk to MotoHakone-Ko among in the woods that still had some snow lining the ground at which a bus brought me straight back to Hakone-Yumoto to board the Romance car once again back to Shinjuku. The crowds however, didn’t evaporate magically as I’d naively thought. On the contrary, it felt as though the Tokyo weekend crowds had simultaneously decided to take a similar day trip.

Lost in translation

Japan – Tokyo at least – is quite a crazy place, with even crazier people. Why do they wear masks quite freely? I’m left wondering if it’s because of illness or a fear of contracting disease. Why are the women obsessed with whitening their skin and using so much mascara with their falsies? Why do […]

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The conventional route

A panicked, banged-up itinerary bordering on the unconventional finally materialised a day or 2 ago, when I finally got the courage to go to Takayama from Tokyo (the forbidden element being the immense train journeys I’d have to undertake in those couple of days). I’ve always been called ambitious when it comes to travel planning […]

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Impulse

For years now, I’ve talked about Japan as my personal fetish, the last, unexplored frontier that I don’t quite dare broach for reasons that were never quite so articulated. I knew that I’d be lost in translation, despite the successful trips that millions of non-Japanese have pulled off without knowing the language and the highly […]

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The Art of Marinating

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A returning nightmare

Lunch on the last day consisted of pizzas made with eggplant, spinach and ricotta, and tasted like raw plant. Then it was back to Bali Botanica for a rather strange rub-down that involved twisting of joints, and more alarmingly combined with some sort of prayer on the masseur’s part. The weather was unkind that day, […]

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In the heart of a heatwave

He drove resolutely in the middle of 2 lanes, honked indiscriminately, taking hair-pin turns downhill with a confidence that made me envious of his incredible taxi-gymnastic skills. The cheapest transportation option had always been my priority when I travelled and this was (obstinately) no different, despite the fact that many people grew a pair of […]

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