The Tokyo posts ended up running a bit long so I split them up. The first two parts are here. Tokyo 1 and Tokyo 2. Also, Nicole bought me a GoPro video camera and I made a video of our trip to Tokyo. Check it out!
Our Sixth Day in Tokyo – Hakone
Our time in Japan was coming to a close so Nicole and I decided to get outside the city and visit Hakone. It’s famous for it’s giant Torii on Lake Ashi and it’s shrine. The ride outside the city was only an hour or so. From there we took the world’s craziest windiest bus up the mountain. The ride was only hairpin turns. As my grandfather said there’s one turn for each letter in the alphabet. As cold as it was in Tokyo, even though we only had one day of snow, there was plenty of snow in Hakone. The bus wound through snowy roads up to the top of a mountain then back down the other side to Lake Ashi and the giant red Torii.
The lake was really peaceful. Nicole and I were some of the only people there that day. It was a big difference from the bustle of Tokyo. Nicole and I spent the afternoon walking around the lake and visiting the shrine. When the sun started to set we took the bus back to the train and returned to Tokyo.
Seventh Day in Tokyo – The Last Day
Our last day in Tokyo Nicole and I returned to Harajuku so we could visit the Meiji shrine without getting lost like we did last time. We stopped first at a little breakfast place serving some of the best pancakes I’ve had since moving to South Korea almost two years ago.
The shrine was really cool, much larger than I expected. It was also much newer. The temple was built in 1920. However, it looked hundreds of years older. As I mentioned in my Osaka post, it was neat to see the shrines and temples actually in use. One of the buildings beside the temple grounds was closed to tourists and only open to people wishing to come in and pray. Another thing that struck me was just how quiet the grounds were. We were only a block away from the main road and the subway line yet it was so quiet walking around the shrine.
Time to Leave
After visiting the shrine Nicole and I gathered our belongings from our AirBnB and took the train out to Narita, home to Tokyo’s nearest International Airport. Our flight wasn’t until the next day, but it was very early and Tokyo has little to no public transportation to the airport before 7am.
Narita turned out to be a really cool little town. We walked up and down the main strip which was only a few blocks and settled on a small bar/cafe with reasonably prices tapas. Lots of the bars and restaurants in Narita catered to airline staff and crew and many of them had really cool airline memorablia including old ads for now defunct airlines as well as medals and awards from flight crews. It was neat to get a glimpse into this world. The first place we stopped at was the Jet Lag Club. It was a cozy place with wood trim and a dog in a flight jacket sitting on the bar. I chatted with the proprietor/bar tender and he gave me two decals from the bar.
The second place was the Barge Inn. It was built by Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines. He originally built it for his airline employees when they had to stay over in Japan since the airport was so far from Tokyo. Supposedly the establishment is a subtle joke on the Japanese pronunciation of Virgin. Try saying Barge Inn several times fast.
Well that concludes my Tokyo leg of the trip. The next morning Nicole and I headed out to Hong Kong and I’ll add another post about that soon.