We just returned from our two day trip to Mt. Fuji, Hakone, and Tokyo. This was our last international port and we were a little sad since we started feeling like our trip is coming to a close. But, we are also getting excited to get home, rest a little and see our family and friends.
This trip wasn't exactly what we had planned, but what can you do? When we left the ship it was raining and we knew we were in trouble. Mt. Fuji tends to hide in the fog anyway, but on a rainy day we knew we probably weren't going to see it. We drove to the base and then went via bus to the 5th station (the ½ way point). We were lucky we could get that far because the previous day it was snowing and they closed the road. So we got to the top and took some very foggy pictures and did a little souvenir shopping. Next, we went to the visitors center where we learned about Mt. Fuji. Did you know that the oldest person to hike the mountain is 103 years old and he hiked the mountain in 1988?
After leaving Mt. Fuji we went to Hakone National Park and took a quick boat ride on Lake Ashi. The leaves were changing all around the lake and it was beautiful even though it was raining on us. We were supposed to take a cable car up a mountain for a beautiful view... but... well, you know... RAIN and FOG. So the group started to get restless. Then, to top it off, the bus driver was stuck behind and accident for 1 ½ hours and we were stranded in a wonderful gift shop that wouldn't take credit cards and didn't have an ATM (it is rare that a Japanese ATM will take an American ATM card so none of us had cash). They let us roam free while the bus was getting around the accident, so several of us went the post office where there was a reliable ATM, got cash and found a wonderful noodle place for lunch. When we got back, the bus was there and we left for our 3 hour ride to our hotel in Tokyo.
The second day was MUCH better. We first visited the Meiji Shinto Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. We also visited the Imperial Palace Plaza which is located on the former site of Edo Castle. We had a wonderful traditional Japanese meal where we had to remove our shoes before entering. The food was delicious. Next, we visited the Asakusa Temple in the center of Tokyo's low town. The temple was so beautiful and it was a holiday so there was lots of wonderful shopping a street food stalls.
We got back to the ship about 4:45pm and there was a HUGE line to get back on the ship. We stood in line for about 45 minutes and there were at least 250 people behind us. I am sure a lot of people got dock time today.
So now we have a 10 day stretch on the ship to Hawaii. This will be the longest "on ship" time that we have had so far on the voyage. Hopefully the students will be able to keep focused as we approach Hawaii. Then, after Hawaii, we have final exams and then SAN DIEGO!
-Hello Kitty is EVERYWHERE in Japan
-Many of the college students got full body fleece pajamas that look like Hello Kitty or some of the Pokemon characters. They are so funny!