by Nicholas Cropper
I’ve spent almost a year and a half in various parts of Japan now, but until yesterday, I hadn’t even gone to the two places most people go to in their first week. So when I got the chance to go on Sunrise Tours’ excursion to Mt. Fuji and Hakone, I jumped at it.
Definitely a tour to be recommended for anyone: the tours to both of these places was done very comfortably in one day, making it ideal for short-term visitors and those of us who have to make the most of our days off!
An early start to the day began at 7:50am, where I was picked up from a hotel nearby by their bus which transferred everyone to another coach station, where we began our tour. We were greeted by our very friendly guide, who introduced the day’s itinerary and gave us some very interesting bits of information about the various places we passed through on the way to Fuji.
A few hours and a rest stop later, we arrived at station five of Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, we weren’t blessed with the most ideal weather conditions and fog stopped us from seeing the summit. This didn’t stop us taking a trip down to the nearby Shinto shrine. After a flying visit to the souvenir shops, we hopped back on to the coach to our next destination—lunch!
The tour arranged for us to have a three-course lunch at a hotel near the base of Mt. Fuji, all included in the cost of the tour. I opted for the salmon, which was very nicely served with an accompaniment of steamed vegetables. The treats didn’t stop there. They also arranged for us to have free entry to the Fuji Art Museum located in the hotel, which houses a variety of interesting interpretations of Mt. Fuji.
Back on to the tour bus again at 2pm, and off to Hakone for a boat trip and a cable-car volcano ascent.
We arrived in Hakone after an hour-and-a-half bus journey, which seemed to fly by with the guide’s interesting and at times amusing comments about the areas we passed through. We were kindly introduced to some Japanese “jokes”—which had even the non-English speakers amongst us in stitches. After hopping onto a boat straight from the bus, we crossed Lake Ashinoko and onto the cable car to ascend Mt. Komagatake. The view of Hakone and the lake from the top was very impressive and clear to see, and obviously a great point for some quick photographs. An optional 20-minute trek further led to a small Shinto shrine, and some more impressive views of the other side of the volcano. Just in time for the last cable car to the bottom, the descent of Mt. Komagatake brought about the end of a very busy, but definitely worthwhile day’s adventuring.
The end of the journey consisted of a simple bullet train trip back in Tokyo, all explained very simply by the guide, who was very happy to help the unsure travelers amongst us. Indeed a credit to the tour, the staff was very friendly and happy to help right from the start. All in all, a tour that could look a little hectic on paper was very enjoyable and problem-free.