We had a day trip to Gotemba and Hakone, the popular destinations during your tour to Mt Fuji from Tokyo. Our tour departed from Shinjuku Keio Plaza Hotel, with a great Hina doll temporary exhibition!
On the way to Mt Fuji I recommend you to stop by Gotemba Premium Outlet because there are various brand products and household goods on sale there at very good prices.
Especially on a sunny day, you can have a spectacular view of Mt Fuji in the background here! If you are in a mood for shopping, this place is a heaven for you with luxury and designer brands such as Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Coach ect at much cheaper price than the one in Tokyo. Japanese brands such as Moussy can also be found.
Don’t forget to bring your passport when shopping to get 8% sale tax. The outlet also has a place for kids to play while moms are busy with shopping!
Not only fashion stores, Pokemon, Lego, Disney stores are always crowded with tourists here. This is the first Pokemon store in Japan’s outlet where they sell Mt Fuji Summit Pikachu. You can buy one and Pikachu will go with you to Mt Fuji in the next destination!
Say goodbye to the crowded shopping mall, we continued our journey. It’s time for lunch! The restaurant owner surprised me with the very traditional Japanese interior design and the dishes that he cooked. I think it’s not to cook, it’s to create! Every dish has its own theme such as two cats under cherry blossoms, rose with snow flower.
Not only beautiful, the food here is super delicious and fresh. I was too hungry so I had to keep these food pictures inside my stomach. The staff was very friendly and nice, she told us about the ingredients in details every time the dish was served, that makes us understand more about local food.
After lunch, we stopped by Observatory Restaurant (Fujimatsu Tembo Restaurant) to enjoy the superb view of Mt Fuji! Now I understand why Mt Fuji is registered as World Heritage Site. I have never seen a volcanic mountain gets angry when it is active but I believe that Mt Fuji is always charming, calm and splendid as the way it is, right in front of me!
I think the most interesting part that makes people admire Mt Fuji is that the background landscape has a very mysterious beauty, the cloud covers the mountain in different ways combined with sunlight reflection that makes the nature picture changes dramatically. I am sure that if you visit here even 100 times, you will never see the same Mt Fuji image because its beauty changes constantly. I am wondering whether the great nature can make up as the way women do?
Thanks to the volcano’s last eruption 3,000 years ago, Lake Ashi (Ashinoko) was formed and became popular destination not only among Japanese but also international tourists. People come here also for hot spring bath and to relax. Let’s have a walk to the Edo period in Hakone!
Our driver stopped at a kimono rental Shop nearby. This is the first time I had kimono dress-up experience. The shop has handful of lovely pattern kimono so I was confused to choose for a moment. Finally, I found out a kimono with pink cherry petal. The staff helped me put it on. It is quite complicated because too many layers and I didn’t know where to start. I think the most difficult step is to adjust the length and the width of the outer to fit customers’ body size.
I was very impressed at their patience when tried to make customers look perfect. It is much more comfortable than I expected! I even didn’t feel any difficulty in walking around with its traditional footwear (tabi socks and geta sandals).
Tea ceremony is also served there. You can do it before or after sightseeing.
There is a small Japanese style garden there so I went outside to take some photos with Lake Ashi as background!
Just walk down the road and you will see Hakone Checkpoint right there. Hakone used to be an important checkpoint (Hakone Sekisho) to control traffic along the Tokaido, the main road which linked Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo period.
The samurai government used Hakone Checkpoint to control incoming weapons and outgoing women. Feudal lords in Japan were forced to send their wives as hostages and Hakone Checkpoint was built to prevent their escape. Its classic architecture such as fences, gates, housing for soldiers, observation tower, ect, quite matches with Lake side view and cedar tree rows!
On the way back to Tokyo, we stopped by the lakeside. There is a red gate of Hakone Shrine (so-called the Torii of Peace), it was floating on the lake! This mysterious spot is popular all year round. People say that if you go through the fourth torii (torii is the red gate of a shrine) and wash your hands, the route going up 90 steps (kyujudan) will be comfortable!