Monday, 30 December 2013

Trip to Hakone and Mount Fuji

Pooch pondered and researched whether we should go away for a night before the new year week kicked off here for ten long days. He decided against on Thursday night then changed his mind at 8.30am on Friday and by 9.30am we were on our way. I am very happy he did! We headed for the Hakone area and stayed in the most amazing Hotel Fujiya. The whole area is interlaced with hot springs and is therefore absolutely packed when there are public holidays - like the new year week which most of the country gets off. That's why if we were going to go it really needed to be before the national getaway began. This is it.
You can't really see the hotel but if you click on the hotel link in the last paragraph you'll see how amazing it is. Very traditional and with its own public baths fed by the hot springs. There were bell hops inside who were actually dressed like this and bowed to greet you.
This is the view from our room, which was very old world luxurious with antique furniture and fittings.
One of the public lounges - called the 'Magic Room' - all velvet and leather.
And then there were the gardens which Pooch ventured out into while I was still asleep.
Hotel Fujika Garden in the Snow
Hotel Fujika Garden in the Snow
Hotel Fujika Garden in the Snow

Pooch and I made full use of the swimming pool which was heated by the hot springs and very warm. I then headed off to the women's public bath. Fortunately there was a bell hop changing the towels who was able to talk me through the process as I was the only non-Japanese there. Essentially you get undressed and leave your clothes in a basket in the changing room. Then, butt naked, you go into the spa and sit on a little stool while washing yourself thoroughly. There is also a small bucket for sluicing yourself. You can wash your hair too at this point or just put it up. Then once you are very clean you get into the public bath which is very hot and completely clear. If you get too hot you can stand up and perch on the side to cool off, then you get back in. When in the water you sit still and it comes up to about your shoulders. Once suitably relaxed you get out, have another wash and then go back out into the changing area, pick up a towel, and get dressed. I know not everyone is comfy being naked in front of strangers, but having been a life model I've never had a problem with it and everyone is very respectful. Having said that the 10-ish year old girl who was there with her Mum had obviously never seen such pale flesh in the flesh and did gawp a bit until her Mum prodded her! No photos from this bit, obviously, but this is me afterwards - amazingly relaxed and full of love for the world. 
Hotel Fujika Me Post Spa

As you can see from all the outdoor photos, it had snowed - starting the previous afternoon shortly after we arrived. We had planned to do what we did on Saturday on Friday afternoon but with the snow coming down, visibility was awful. Regretfully moving a visit to the Lalique Museum to some future point, we moved the Friday agenda to Saturday and I am really glad we did. After the local train...
...came a funicular and then two cable cars.
Cable Car mechanism
And a first view of Mount Fuji!
It's such a Japanese icon and I'd wanted to see it for decades so it was rather awe inspiring when I finally did. Once at the top, which was really cold, there was lots more gawping at it.
Then another cable car down to where the boat across the lake began.
Boat Approach
What was essentially a tour boat had been made to look so much better! Pooch spent most of his time out on the poop deck (pooch deck) imagining he was the Captain.
It was very beautiful.

We got back to Tokyo on Saturday in time for dinner and both felt like we'd been away much longer than one night. It was such a beautiful place. I am definitely going to be going back when the weather is warmer - as well as the Lalique Museum there are a number of art museums with impressionist and french art collections which I would love to take my time strolling through. Pooch also intends to climb Mount Fuji in the summer (crazy fool) and so we may be able to combine that and my visit with my birthday and another stay in the amazing hotel!


Jan Manley said...

WOW Gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing. I hope yall have a very Happy New Year and are enjoying your time in Japan. Your envelope is on its way! have fun!
xo jan@sewandsowfarm

Purlpirate said...

Next time you visit Hakone, you must go to the sculpture park, it's amazing

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