Day Six: Pirates of Lake Ashi

Our morning started off right with another amazing meal brought to our room in our olde Japanese Inn.  We packed our stuff up afterwards and went out to explore Hakone after a night of sleeping on the tatami mat floor, sticking with the traditional route of the Inn.  Going out to the cable car station, we had to wait awhile for the up car to get to us so we could begin our climb up the mountain to Lake Ashi.  I got to really use my new polarizing filter for my camera today which was amazing!  But, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, and I took soooo many photos on the lake today. 

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The cable car coming down the mountain.

 

After reaching the top of the cable car system, we swapped over to ropeway cars to quickly and scenically climb the mountain and cross the valleys to get to the lake on top of the mountain.  This was much faster than the cable cars, and also less crowded, believe it or not.  The view of all the mountains and valleys was incredible.

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One of the ropeway stations we’d be using to get to Lake Ashi

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A look out the window of a ropeway car.

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Mt. Fuji peeking out behind the clouds.

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Lake Ashi!

 

Upon reaching the end of the ropeway car line at Togendai, we were to take a boat across the lake, but not just any boat… a pirate boat!  There were tons of tourists everywhere but we got through the crowds and were even able to collect some commemorative stamps that were found at various stations across the Hakone area.  At the end of the day, we had 5 of the 6 stamps, as the last one was way out of our way.  I’ll have to come back one day to get that one.

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The “pirate” ship we’d be riding on to see Lake Ashi.

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The mast of our ship, the “Wasa.”

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Our Captain going around taking pictures with the passengers.  We got one too, but Emily has it.  I’ll get a copy later.

 

The Lake!

 

We decided to stop at Hakone-Machi-kou and walk to the next boat station as we could pass through the Tokaidou, an ancient road used in the Edo period that connected Edo to Kyoto. 

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Off the docks of Hakone-Machi-kou.

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The pirate ship sailing around the other side of Lake Ashi on its way back to the station.

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A small town outside of Hakone-Machi-kou, which we walked through to get to Tokaidou.

 

Before reaching the Tokaidou, we had to pass through a checkpoint museum which was used to regulate traffic between Edo and Kyoto as well as check for smugglers and stuff like that.  It was also for security purposes.  After that, we found the Tokaidou! 

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A hill in the checkpoint museum._DSC0258

A road that paralleled Tokaidou.

 

Walking on this road, you can really get a feel for what travel must have been like in those times.  Even though it runs parallel to a street used by cars, a tranquil feeling sets in as you walk among the large trees that must be hundreds of years old.

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Ancient Cedar Avenue, a 2km portion of the Tokaidou.

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An old road sign stone on the Avenue.

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One last shot of the Avenue from an overhead bridge.

 

After making it to the next boat station and getting our stamps, we got onto a boat back to Togendai station so we could head on out of Hakone and make our way to Kyoto, where we would be spending the next couple of days.  We got some more pictures of various things we saw on the way back to Togendai station. 

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Torii gate on the coastline of Lake Ashi.

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A ropeway station.  I took a hundred pictures of this but something drew me to this one.

 

After going all the way back to our Inn, we picked up our luggage and headed out of Hakone, taking the switchback again all the way back to Odawara where we could hop on a train to Kyoto, but not just any train.  We were getting on the bullet train.  For the next two hours we’d be blazing past the Japanese countryside to our next destination.  Apparently there was a life-size Gundam on the way but we didn’t see it. 

 

It caught me off guard with how quiet it is!

 

Here’s how fast we were whooshing past the countryside to Kyoto for two hours.  That tells you how far we went.

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The countryside on the way to Kyoto.

 

After the fast ride down, we made it to Kyoto and got to our hotel, the lovely Hotel Hokke Club, where we dropped our luggage and plopped down for some chill time after another long day of traveling and running around.  We ended up going out on the town for dinner but didn’t have to go too far.  A normal looking street is outside our hotel, but under said street is a maze of an underground mall featuring over 30 different restaurants, including the amazing Okonomiyaki place we stopped at.  Aside from having real ramen, another food on my checklist of things I must eat while in Japan was Okonomiyaki, which I’ve had once before in Columbus.  As usual, the food was amazing. 

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Our hotel right across the street from the station, the Hotel Hokke Club

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Our Okonomiyaki dinner!

 

Tomorrow we’re going to go out and explore even more of Kyoto.  I’m not sure what our plans are at the moment, but you’ll be the first to see how it goes.  😀

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