Saturday, November 21, 2009

Part Two: Ropeway and Lake Ashi

After leaving the hot springs, it was time to make our way down into Owakudani Valley. We had driven through it but didn't get a chance to appreciate how beautiful it was until we could see it from above!

Our tour group split into two trams on the "ropeway" aka cable cars for Americans:

We had stunning views of Fuji again, as seen over Andrew's left shoulder:

Here's a view of the valley and Lake Ashi, which would be our last stop. I don't think I realized how high up we were until we starting going down, if that makes sense. If you squint, you can see the ship we would be riding across the lake:
After arriving at the bottom, the pirate (?) ship greeted us in its full glory. Although my Dad endlessly mocked it for historical accuracy (the Japanese weren't exactly known for their pirating history), I have to admit that it was a majestic sight each time it sailed across the lake:

We crossed from one end of the lake to the far end, and you guessed it, could still see Fuji in the distance although it was beginning to get obscured by clouds:

On our way to the historical checkpoint, we happened to see a Japanese bride and groom - dressed in traditional garb - headed to their wedding ceremony! I was super excited by this and even yelled out congratulations, hoping that they would understand the well wishes behind the comment even if they didn't understand the word:
Our final stop before lunch was a historical checkpoint from the Edo period - as the name states, it was a checkpoint that all travelers needed to go through in order to travel to Tokyo. The brochure said its main purpose was to keep arms out and women in - we couldn't figure out if that meant that women were being kidnapped or if they wanted to flee!

Admittedly, this exhibit was kind of boring since it just featured statues of people performing traditional tasks. I'll spare you from that and instead, bring you another picture of Andrew and I from within the checkpoint:

Although the checkpoint itself was boring, the lake views it offered from its lookout tower exhibit were wonderful (after climbing a bunch of stairs):

As we headed out to find a place to eat lunch, Andrew stopped to show us what his inner samurai looked like - ready for battle (or a large meal!):

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