Before we set off at around 1045am, we took part in the hotel’s tea ceremony near the lobby. It was a brief and interesting cultural experience - just enough for us to know the main points about the Tea Ceremony. I was told the real thing can last half a day… I’ll probably doze off if it was that long…
I was a bit careless when buying the Shinkansen tickets especially when my research showed that I would only pay about S$60-70 for the return ride. I ended up paying Y12500 or twice the price. The next mistake was to getting on the wrong train type. Instead of taking the Tokaido Shinkansen to Odamaru, we ended up taking the Tokaido Main Line. The whole journey lasted an hour longer that intended and we were left with just 3 hours of daylight. I was annoyed at my naivety of simply waltzing through Tokyo Station's complex maze of platforms.
The bus trip to Hakone’s Lake Ashi was another ordeal. Not only it cost us $Y2400 (one way), it took about an hour to reach our destination. The zero degrees celsius didn’t help much but we were at least rewarded with a fine view of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji. Took as much photo as our bodies could take in the cold temperature. By 4pm, we were on our way back to Odamaru station. Once again, my lack of research almost cost me more $$$ as I discovered later that the bus doesn’t accept large notes so upon reaching the last stop, Honz had to wait in the bus while I quickly rush to a nearby bakery to ‘break’ my larger notes.
Anyway, our less than satisfying experience at Hakone finally ended after getting onboard the Shinkansen back to the Tokyo. I must say it was an amazing experience. We were just getting on the platform when one went passed us in mere seconds! I was fortunate to get a video shot of another one passing at top speed a few minutes later.
We arrived at Tokyo Station about 30 minutes later, got my S$30+ refund for not using the Shinkansen to Odamaru, ate dinner at the same curry rice restaurant and then headed straight to Skytree.
This time, we dropped at the right station and the weather was clear for us to go up. After 5 days in Tokyo, both Honz and I were glad that we managed to do most of the things that we wanted to do and ending our trip on a high (no pun intended), 350 metres high, to be exact. We wished we had 1-2 more days but parenthood beckoned us back in Singapore.
I sincerely wished that there will be a next time, especially having experienced how easy it was to travel around Tokyo, if not Japan.