A little too late for the autumn leaves, but magnificent at any time a trip around Fuji had been on our list for awhile. This trip also coincided with Jakes’s 3rd birthday and a visit to Thomasland at Fuji-Q at the request of the patient birthday boy who had waited almost a year to visit!
As a side note, many of these adventures to Hakone and Kawaguchiko can be done as a day trip from Tokyo, but we opted for the more leisurely four-day getaway!
To get to Hakone, our first stop, we made Andrew drive the Funcargo there and Jake and I took the Romance train from Shinjuku station. Thanks to Andrew’s Japanese language skills, we managed to get fancy seats at the front of the carriage, for panoramic views as we approached Fuji-san!
We stayed in the town of Gora, at the delightful and new-at-the-time Hakone Guesthouse Gaku. Our one recomendation – take your own breakfast foods and make sure you eat out early if you are staying in this sleepy little town!
On the birthday day we did the Hakone Loop! Although it sounds like a lot, the loop was easy to do and well signposted in English for those wondering if it is achievable for the standard tourist. Our little transport lover had such a great day catching the funicular railway, two cable cars over sulfur pits, a ride on a pirate ship (with Fuji views on a clear day – which ours was not) and then a bus back down to town!
Sadly for us Fuji-san hid his (I am guessing at the gender here) head in the clouds. Despite this, the other attractions of the day did not disappoint!
On our way back down on the bus route we stopped at the Hakone Onsen theme park – Yunessun! It has both a conventional (and beautiful) gender segregated onsen, and also a bathing suit area where you can play in inside pools, using water slides and indulge in exotic onsen flavoured by the likes of tea and wine! It was a great afternoon after a cold and drizzly day! To be sure, it is tacky, but is also quintessentially Japanese in design! And from memory, you can borrow swimmers there if you forget yours!
No trip to Hakone is complete without a visit to the very child Friendly Hakone Open Air Musem. Yes, it was cold in early December but with appropriate layers it made for a great day out in the morning and a fantastic lesson in modern sculptural art!
Having visited many museums in Japan which seem to resent the presence of children, this one does a fantastic job at welcoming them with open arms! It even goes so far as to target children with some of the installations, which are designed for scrambling in, around and climbing on top of!
Our circumnavigation en route to Kawaguchiko was part out of the desire to say we have driven around Fuji-san in its entirety, and also part to give Jake a chance to recharge his batteries in the car.
While we were driving around, we had the chance to stop at Maikaino Farm Resort on the western side of Fuji-san! From here we were finally able to see the elusive Fuji-San and also feed rabbits and horses! Plus, we were able to eat some of the local diary products from the farm! (And yes, you should always try whatever the local specialty item is when traveling in Japan!)
After our day on the road we made it to Kawaguchiko and our next hotel – K’s House Fuji View. And what a view of Fuji it was!
Our second last day bought about the much anticipated visit to Thomasland! It has been the most requested return adventure since then, but unfortunately for Jake we parents do not have the fortitude to go again!
Do not get me wrong, the day was such fun. But only for a day! I am personally not sure how many more Thomas-specific rides I can handle! Also, when we went you were able to get a Thomas specific day pass but that option seems to have been removed.
On our final day we stopped by Parcabout to stretch our legs before Jake’s nap on the way home. This magical place was such a unique and fun experience – even with winter upon us! I definitely recommend booking ahead of time though as even at the start of winter it was very busy! We had heaps of fun with a three year old (whilst pretending to be three years old ourselves) running and bouncing through the tree tops!
All in all this was a very fun trip that I would recommend to anyone visiting Japan with a smaller child!