Friday, 9 August 2013

Fireworks in Japan and Hakone Road Trip

It's been awhile since my last post and a lot has happened then. I finally finished my intensive Japanese course at Waseda University last week on Friday which was filled with both sad and happy emotions. It feels great that I've finished studying and that I don't have to do anymore homework or have to deal with the long commute to school, but on the other hand I miss all the new friends that I made during the six weeks. The last day we had a return orientation where we received our certificates and handed back our student ID's, after that it was just a whirlpool of contrasting emotions. Everyone was crying and laughing, taking pictures together and hugging. It was so sad to say goodbye, I probably won't see them again for a long time. I'm so happy though, to have met all these new wonderful people from all around the world. Now I can go to so many new countries and have friends guide me around. The day after on Saturday I went to see fireworks with some of my classmates, it was so busy. The fireworks were amazing and the street food was delicious.

 On Monday my great-aunt and uncle took me to Hakone, which is famous for hot springs and nature. On the way there (we drove there) we stopped by the beach. It was the first time I went to a Japanese beach and it's really different to Australian beaches, for example the beach I went to had darker sand, everyone uses beach umbrellas, there are little food and drink shacks, there's a highway next to it. It was really nice though, because I've been craving to go to the beach. After the beach we went to go find somewhere to eat, we went to Chinese chain restaurant called Bamiyan. I had a Bamiyan ramen set that came with a big bowl of ramen, fried rice and gyoza, which are dumplings. It was super yummy and I felt like I was going to explode after eating. It's amazing how much I can eat, it surprises me sometimes. I can't express how much I love Japanese food, everything just tastes so good. Once I get back to Perth, I"m going on a diet. Lose all the weight and calories I've put on since I got here, which is a lot.

We also stopped by at Odawara Castle, I thought the building looked really, pure and pristine, if that makes sense. I think it's because it was white, it was so peaceful in a way.

The hotel we stayed at was a traditional Japanese one, with tatami mats, futon for bedding and it had an onsen (public bath) too. It was really great, just relaxing and unwinding. Taking a bath and then eating. Ah, the lazy life is great. Hakone is a really good place to go to if you want to be within nature, because Hakone is basically on a mountain, there are trees everywhere and it's peacefully quite. I love the trees in Japan, they're so green and lush. The front lobby of the hotel was great, there was a seating area with a giant window that enabled you to look at trees. So relaxing.  I can't remember the hotel's name, but if you really want to know, message me and I'll find out for you. We also had a nice traditional Japanese dinner which included, sashimi, seaweed salad, warm tofu (it was so good, oh my God), pork with vegetables, rice, miso soup and other yummy things.

On Tuesday, after we left the hotel we went to Owakudani, which is a popular tourist spot for volcanic hot springs and active sulpher vents. It's also famous for black hard-boiled eggs. It has really nice scenic views, you're also able to see Mt. Fuji, although I didn't due to the cloudy and slightly rainy weather that day. People don't use the hot springs, they only use it to boil eggs. The whole place smells of eggs, but that's due to the sulpher vents. It's tolerable though! We ate eggs and I had a egg ice-cream, which just tasted like vanilla soft cream, but slightly more sweet in a way. You know creme caramel?, it tasted like that, only without the sugar syrup, just the creamy bit. Tasted good! The black egg tasted like any other ordinary hard-boiled egg, although it's said to lengthen your life if you eat them!

After this, we went to Hakone Ropeway, which took us all the way down the mountain. It was pretty hot in the cable car, but the views were amazing.

This picture doesn't really give justice to the amazing views unfortunately. The views from inside the cable car was amazing especially since there were glass windows and you got to see a bird's eye view of Hakone. After we got off the rope way, we took a sightseeing boat cruise.

After that we went to the Narukawa Art Museum, a lot of the artworks were were Japanese and the attention to detail on  the paintings were amazing. The paints used were made out of crushed coloured rocks, so it made a strange sort of texture that was visible on the paintings. There was also a small gallery different kaleidoscopes, it was great. The views from the museum was also really nice.

Wow this is a long post. Hope you enjoyed it nevertheless.