Mt. Fuji & Hakone National Park

Day 5: Sunday, October 14, 2012
As Japan’s tallest and most iconic mountain, Mt. Fuji looked exceptionally shy (and bare without its snowy cap) as it afforded us no more than a faint outline on such a clear autumn day. Regardless, our tour guide told us we were lucky, as Fuji was normally masked by dense fog around this time of the year. I’d have to say, the view from the bus afar was actually more impressive than the one up close and personal, because I could actually see the clear symmetry and majestic curves. From the foot of the mountain at the visitor’s center, all we could make out was a faint outline of the cone; and from the fifth station half way up the mountain, people stopped taking photos of Fuji, and flocked instead, to the food and souvenir shops indoors away from the cold. The sweetest thing about being 6,000 feet that day, was probably the Fuji-shaped pastry.

Afterward, we stopped at a nearby boutique hotel for a Japanese-sized bento lunch before hopping on the bus again — this time toward Hakone National Park. Once again, the views from the drive there were no less breathtaking than the destination itself. We took the Hakone ropeway up to the top, inhaled some sulphur, took it back down, then boarded a kitschy (though impressive) pirate ship — complete with cosplay crew — that sailed around Lake Ashi, as the fog rolled in.

With the sun gone, we took the shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo, and back at the Shinjuku Station, we hit up an Italian restaurant for a margherita pizza and some good ol’ spaghetti. Even sushi grows old.