I purchased a JR pass before leaving the UK as it offers you travel on specific lines and bullet trains around Japan. I wanted to get the most out of the pass so decided it would be worth travelling out of Tokyo. Spending all weekend with friends, it was time for a few solo adventures 🙌.
Monday 30th January 2017
I had my eyes set on exploring the shrines, temples and beaches of Kamakura. Doing a bit of research online, I found a walking trail which looked perfect. I got up early, successfully navigated the underground and headed out of Tokyo. Eventually I arrived at what I thought was Kamakura, but instead was Kita-Kamakura. I mean come on – why have such similar names next to each other on the train map. After finally realising I was at the wrong station and I had in fact started halfway through the planned route, I decided to carry on anyway. Eventually stopping at the most amazing Kenchoji Temple.
Since leaving the UK I’ve pretty much been in a permanent state of happiness. Not meaning to sound like a douche, but it’s true. I’ve always wanted to do this trip and it’s been incredible. But the Kenchoji Temple was a turning point for me. Whilst trying to take a photo (of the below), my brand new iPhone 7 decided to break. See Exhibit A…My phone got stuck like this for nearly an hour. I’ve been using my phone for everything – maps, information, contacts, photos etc as it’s the easiest place to store content (and backup), so this was a massive disaster. In the middle of nowhere and in a state of panic, I tried everything to restart my phone but it wouldn’t work. Realising that Siri was the only option available (as there was wifi in one part of the Temple) I tried contacting James who is currently living in Tokyo.
Exhibit B…Well that didn’t work as well, which I was unsure of at the time. I weighed up my options to either head back to the hostel to get it fixed or carrying on and hoping it may work later. I went with option two. Finally coming around to the fact this hiccup wasn’t going to ruin my day, 10 minutes later, after holding down the restart button for 5 minutes, it finally reloaded.
This was my first valuable lesson of the trip – don’t rely on technology. My dad did in fact tell me I should take a physical map with me at all times and in fairness I had one for Tokyo, but not for Kumakura. Lesson learnt and since I’ve been carrying maps, as well as my iPad as backups.
The rest of the day I spent mainly lost. Its actually very hard to get around here, especially on foot which is what I prefer. But it’s an experience and that’s what I wanted out of this trip. Anyway, my next visit was the Engakuji Temple. After walking up a path to what I thought was a hiking route and speaking to a Japanese lady who advised I better head back to the station to go to the relay Kamakura (which I did) I successfully managed to find Daibutsu – even going inside the 11.3 metre statue. The Beach – which was a bit disappointing And my favourite place in Kamakura, Hasedera Temple, which was unbelievably beautiful ❤️. I also found chocolate covered crisps in a 100 yen store (equivalent of 69p), which I had to try! They were 👌. The evening was lovely – dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant with James and a few of our friends, as well as a visit to a bar with a view.
Tuesday 31st January 2017
It was my visit to Hakone where it got interesting. It was my first experience of royally messing a day up 🤦♀️. Whilst researching, I thought it would be easy to walk between the places I wanted to visit – definitely not the case.
After taking my time, going to Oswana castle and grabbing some lunch (and maybe getting lost at the bus station), I found the information office, purchased a day travel card and made it onto a bus to Hakone.I sat next to a lovely tour guide who after a brief chat began laughing at my supposedly overreaching plans (most people do the route in two days). Hakone 1, Jess 0.
It was nearly 1.30pm by then and as I wasn’t going to see everything, I prioritised the best viewing point for Mount Fuji. I hopped on a cute tram and headed up the hill. Around a quarter of the way, I was getting stressed at how slow the tram was going, knowing that after I needed to take a cable car and then a bus! It was looking fairly clouded outside, so I decided to change my plans and head to the temple instead. Maybe I could still see Fuji from the other viewing points?
Arriving at Hakone-Machi around 3pm, I ventured to what I heard was a beautiful viewing point across Lake Ashi. But just my luck, it was having construction work! Hakone 2, Jess 0. Ok that was a bit of a flop, so I thought maybe I’ll walk as far around the mountain as possible in a hope to see Mount Fuji. Somehow ending up at the place I originally wanted to go, I still couldn’t see the volcano. Hakone 3, Jess 0.
Defeated, I headed back to the temple to have a look further up the hill. My day definitely improved around then…With the sun setting and the scenery becoming more stunning, I decided on one last attempt to see Mount Fuji around the other side of the bay.
Knowing there was a bus back to Oswana at 5pm I rushed to get to Hakone-Machi-Ko (I could have taken a bus there but what’s the fun in that). Whilst walking, I suddenly realised I was talking to myself out loud! Seems this is another new thing I’ve picked up on this trip. I like my own company, but I suppose barely speaking all day to anyone (even on my phone) takes its toll on a chatterbox. Anyway guess what? I still couldn’t see Mount Fuji, so I jumped on the bus and headed back to Tokyo to meet James and Eduardo for dinner at Shake Shack 🙈. Hakone 4, Jess 0.
My ‘day trip’ to Hakone had ended in two hours of not seeing Mount Fuji, a shrine under construction, as well as not visiting:
Hakone – Yumoto
Onshi Hakone Koen Park
Another lesson learnt – be more prepared and don’t faff about! I really want to see Mount Fuji, so weather dependent I’m planning on getting up early Sunday morning and hopefully seeing it then. Fingers crossed 🤞.
So this was a little taster of when things don’t go to plan. Hoping there isn’t much more of it this trip, but not holding my breath.
Anywho I’ll be impressed if you made it this far – this post is definitely more of an essay than picture book. Thanks for reading if you did 😊.
Until the next adventure..
Jessica Storm ✌️