From Hiroshima to Hakone with decorated wooden spoons

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September 25th 2016
Published: September 25th 2016
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From Hiroshima to Hakone with decorated wooden spoons

And so we left Hiroshima today. After you've done the atomic dome, the museum and peace park it's easy to forget the American atrocity that happened here. And that's not a bad thing because the people have made a city to be be proud of from the ashes of death and destruction. They want to be able to move on whilst honouring all those slaughtered: and they do, with pride and dignity. And that's all part of being Japanese. And there's definitely nothing wrong with that.

After two days of lie-ins it was time for Claire to get me up early. When you consider a lie-in on our holidays is 8.30am.....

So, we were up at 5.30 and waiting by the tram stop 35 minutes later ready for the trip to Hiroshima station. Google had said there was a train at 7 but the ticket seller said we couldn't leave until 8.05 so we had a bit of time to kill. Damn you Google and your insistence on getting me out of bed an hour early!

We had breakfast at a

Bus on a turntable!
Little Mermaid where I had my first hot coffee of the holiday. Anyone who knows me will know that this is far from normal behaviour as I love my coffee and have a number of devices to make it with at home. I would have had more here but it is expensive. This cup was okay but just okay. Claire was distinctly unimpressed with her baked cheese bar and I wish I'd managed to get a picture of her face when she bit into it. At least it was veggie!

Then it was back on the shinkansen for the biggest travelling day of the holiday (excluding the journeys to and from Japan of course before you start....). Our destination Hakone offers views of Mount Fuji and much more and, as we leave tomorrow, we needed to get there quick to do it all in one day. We had two shinkansen trips and a local train journey ahead of us, the latter of which was only written in Japanese on Google maps. Very helpful. Not.

And so we booked our tickets through to Odawara with a change at Shin-Osaka then hoped for the best at the other end for our final bit of the journey. With an hour and a half on one train and then two and a half on the next we had plenty of time to mentally prepare.

Incidentally, have you ever been sat on a train and thought 'you know what I could do with right now, you know what would make my life a whole lot better, yes, a decorated wooden spoon.'? No? Well someone has because there was one for sale on the trolley dolly's cart on the shinkansen earlier. Claire came up with some sort of last minute souvenir nonsense to try and explain it all away but really, decorated wooden spoons on a train bound for Shin-Osaka? I bought two.

I still love the bowing here especially on the trains as the staff leave each carriage. It's done on ropeways as well and exemplifies everything that is right about the Japanese. They are far from the characters you see in war films trust me. Jamie likened them to chrysanthemums and I believe said there was a movie called that which demonstrated the analogy.

And so we arrived at Odawara station and promptly jumped on a train bound for Hakone. Upon arrival we found we needed to catch at least two buses to get us to our pension and things got a bit confusing as the bus map we were given at Tourist Information didn't have those two bus routes on it. Clever stuff.

We knew we needed bus J then some helpful chap told us bus Z would be fine. It wasn't. We ended up two stops past where we needed to go and had to walk back down a meandering road. With rucksacks on. There was supposed to be a shuttle bus but we hadn't a clue where it went from so we jumped in a taxi as the day was getting on.

After checking in we threw our backpacks into our room and quickly rushed out to catch the shuttle bus back down to where we'd been before. From there we caught a bus to the funicular railway which took us up to the start of the ropeway....fifteen minutes before it closed.

We paid and had our third cable car ride in three days. This one passed over sulphur emitting from volcanic activity and boy did it stink. We didn't use the masks we were given or suffer life-threatening conditions as the leaflet had suggested might happen so that was good. From the cable car we got our second view of Mount Fuji. We'd seen it blur past us from the train earlier but is looked even more majestic now as it glimmered in the sunlight. There was no snow on it today but clouds clung to it exacerbating its beauty as our cable car swung past.

At the end of the ropeway was a sightseeing boat which was made to look like an old sailing vessel. The last one left in five minutes so we jumped on board for a refreshing trip across Lake Ashino-ko to somewhere else. Somehow we'd arrived late and managed to do three touristy things one after the other with the best bit seeing Mount Fuji.

At the end of the boat trip I thought I was going to be allowed some lunch.....well it was getting on for 5 o'clock....but no, everywhere was closing so the few crisps I'd had on board the boat would have to suffice. Hakone is a huge confusing area so prepare well if you plan to use public transport and get around....and eat....

We ended up buying food from a convenience store (they do have some lovely stuff but not as good as sitting in a restaurant) and then catching the shuttle bus back to our hotel. We could have caught yet another bus a few miles somewhere which would probably have meant us missing the last shuttle bus and having to walk uphill on narrow, meandering lanes in the dark. Sushi in the room sounded a better option so that's what we did. Well I did. Claire had an egg sandwich.

Would anyone like to buy a decorated wooden spoon by the way? Or two?


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