We just got back from the most wonderful vacation to Japan. We dropped Lucy off with my parents in Seattle and flew to the other side of the world to meet up with my brother, Jon, who lives in Guam and one of his colleagues, Sam Bailey, who we also knew from years ago in the Singles Ward. Small world, huh?
Here is the stunning view we woke up to. . . seen from our room on the 19th floor at the Tokyo Intenational Hostel.
And some instructions posted in the bathroom. . . there are so many rules in Japan. . .
Mike and Sam Bailey at the train station, heading off to start our adventure in Hakone. Hakone is a whole recreation area popular as a weekend get-away for Tokyo-ites. It comprises of several old towns surrounding a big lake, Lake Ashi, in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Forest. Here are Jon, Mike, and Sam walking down the trail around the Lake.
Fishing boats on Lake Ashi or Ashinoko as its known in Japan.
Was that a pirate ship you just saw? Why, yes, indeed! There is a small armada of replica pirate ships, Spanish clippers, and even a Mississippi Paddle Boat or two taking hoards of tourists (foreign and Japanese) out on scenic tours of the Lake.
I figure, if you're posing for a picture you won't mind if I take one of you too.
A swan paddle boat on the lake.
Day one and I was already missing Lucy. People probably thought I was creepy, the way I'd smile and stare at their children. . . and take their pictures. I was almost jealous of anyone I saw with a baby. . . except on the airplane. That was when I knew we'd made the right decision, leaving Lucy in Seattle.
Our first sneek peak at Mount Fuji, looming in the distance of fishing boats on Ashinoko.
Mike, Jon, and Sam.
At the bottom of the lake, we disembarked (horrible grammar, but you get the point) in Moto-Hakone to grab some late lunch and visit the Historic Hakone Check-point, a recreated or preserved but enhanced old Edo era fort of sorts.
Back in the feudal era, the lords of the land or Daimyo's, were forced to leave their families and wives in Tokyo (then Edo) to prevent them from rebelling. Every year, the Daimyo's and their entourage of samurai and servants would travel the Tokaido road to meet in council and see their families. These checkpoints were set up along the way to make sure no one, especially the wives, could escape Tokyo and go back to their home towns.
(BTW, I get all my info from Frommer's travel guide to Japan and Jame Clavell's "Shogun" so I'm pretty sure it's accurate. . .)
A rare photo of me and the hubs.
Samurai weapons, below. Those guys were brutal.
My brother, Jon, stood a head and a half above everyone.
No, no. It's not a post card, that's my shot of two pirate ships in front of Mount Fuji at dusk. Copyright © 2008 by Juliann Law. (Image may only be used with permission of the artist who might accept bribes and really likes chocolate).
That beautiful orange gate type thing is a Shinto shrine to the God of Water.
Below are some images of our beautiful little cabin at Camp Mura along the north side of Lake Ashi. It was the most pleasant, peaceful, serene little place you can imagine.
(Out door shoes were provided for the deck. . . inside shoes were provided for inside. . . bathroom shoes were provided for the, well you get the idea. Japanese are very serious about changing shoes from outside to inside to preserve the floors and general sanitation.)
Very cool, modern/minimalist architecture. Mike thought it was the most beautiful cabin he'd ever stayed in. At one point he said, "Now this is my kind of camping."
The only problem with our beautiful little cabin was that it was completely isolated from anything else. . . meaning no dinner, no entertainment, no transporation runs after dark. So after about 5:00 pm we were kind of stuck with nothing to do but look at each other. Oh, what we would've given for some granola bars and a deck of cards that night! Well, you can't plan everything perfectly.
Mike and I were so trashed from the time difference we went to bed by 7:00 pm and woke up by about 5:00 am. Mike went for a jog and I went walking. The Guam boys slept peacefully and tried not to think about food.
(to be continued)