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Day 3: Hakone

29.11.2016

We were up by 6:30am and started this morning with a Western style breakfast buffet, and I can say now that the Japanese do a Western style breakfast a lot differently to what I’m used to. There were lots of little dishes with hot food, fresh fruit and delicious pastries that were a lot more filling that I was expecting them to be. By 8:30am we were out the door and on a tour bus headed to Mt. Fuji.

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Today marked the self-declared date of our anniversary, and my boyfriend and I were pretty excited to celebrate our 5 years in Japan, and even more so on Mt. Fuji! I say self-declared because we don’t exactly know the date of when we “officially” started dating, however November 29 is the date corresponding to our favourite Bible verse.

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The bus ride itself was about 3 hours (with a pit stop perfect for refuelling with snacks and taking lots of photos). Our bus stopped at the 4th Station on the mountain instead of the 5th due to heavy snowfall however we still managed to get great photos of the peaks surround Mt. Fuji. To be completely honest, we got a better view of Mt. Fuji whilst we were driving towards and away from it compared to the view we got from the 4th Station. The view was spectacular nonetheless and it was completely worth the drive. Our tour guide told us about all the people that hike up the mountain and camp out over a series of months (with one man having done the climb over 800 times!). Extreme kudos to them, I’m thoroughly impressed. Maybe one day I’ll be fit enough to attempt a climb like that.

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After our 30 minutes taking photos at the 4th Station, we embarked upon a 1 hour bus ride to Hakone where we had this lovely lunch:

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We started our souvenir shopping here and I bought my little brother a plush samurai sword for the safety of my little sister. After lunch we rode the cable car up the Hakone Ropeway all the way up to Ōwakudani: The Great Boiling Valley. Aptly named, this area is a volcanic valley full of sulphuric gases and hot springs. According to our tour guide, it’s been around 3000 years since Mount Hakone last erupted, however the site still remains an active volcanic zone (as well as a popular tourist destination).

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We managed to take a few hilarious photos and got to try charcoal ice cream too! Ice-cream is legitimately one of my most favourite things to eat in the entire world, but even I was a little skeptical. I’m so glad I tried it though! It was fresh and sweet and left the most attractive black-lipstick-type stain on our faces and I only wish it was easier to get more. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try the black eggs as our tour was leaving and didn’t have time, but it’s definitely on our list for our follow-up trip back to Japan.

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After our trip to The Great Boiling Valley we made our way back to where our bus was waiting for us ON A PIRATE SHIP (I’m not kidding!) The trip itself was freezing and absolutely breathtaking and I felt like they transported the vessel straight out of a Disney movie. I usually get sea sick (I still get flash-backs of the first time I went dolphin watching in Sydney – not fun) but I was so distracted by the view that the boat was docking before I could begin to feel sick to my stomach.

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We travelled back to Tokyo in peak hour traffic, and it took about the whole 4 hours to warm up again. It was great being able to sit and pause for a little while, talk to my boyfriend and take a moment to remember that home was half a world away.

When we arrived back in Tokyo, we had dinner at a bar-type restaurant we found by wandering down a strip of bright lights, small stores and crowds of people. The food warmed me from the inside out, and I was so ready to call it a night. After freezing for more than half the day, the hot shower and soft quilts felt like heaven!

-SKC.

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