We left Kyoto, and arrived in Hakone, without clear direction. For instance, there was a rickety little tram-train that went from the bullet train station to the mountain town of Hakone, but the travel agent didn’t communicate the specifics of the rickety tram to us very well. So we rode the thing back-and-forth up the mountain a few times.
By then, we had settled into each other; into a rhythm and routine. We were good together because we were both so fiercely independent and each came carrying our own bit of baggage. But that was also part of the struggle. Integration was…challenging.
It was as challenging for a ten-day holiday as it was on a macro level.
In Hakone, we were staying at another ryokan — this one hidden in the mountainside. The hotsprings fed directly into our room, so there was an outdoor shower/tub just for us that stayed filled with the fresh, hot water. We were also told to that the inn had five separate onsen, which we definitely checked out.
The weather was a little damp, and a little windy, and the hills hissed and perspired and fogged and fizzed in response. (I nearly pitched myself over the too-short balcony to snap this photo).
The next day, we took the train and the ropeway up the mountain to see the view. We were told that we ordinarily would’ve been able to spot Mt Fuji from the summit at Hakone, but the weather was a bit gnarly. So we were thwarted.
We made our way to the lake, where we boarded a ferry decked out like a pirate ship…
And after touring the lake, we headed back to the ryokan to catch a train back to Tokyo.
The main attraction really would’ve been seeing Mt Fuji, but again, the weather simply didn’t permit it.
By train, we were less than an hour from Tokyo. But by the time we arrived back at the train station in the city, the rain was pouring down, and we had multiple bags, so we wound up having to take a taxi for a half-kilometer journey from the station to our hotel.
We opted for a night at the Palace Hotel, as we both had early flights the next day, and we’d already seen all the Mandarin had to offer. If it hadn’t been night-time, or the weather had been better, we’d have been able to see the gardens. But instead, we had a phenomenal lightning show — not just the city lights — the sky was crackling with electricity at one point, too.
And that was it, really.
We were at the end of the trip but at the beginning.