Gora to Tokyo

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My plan for this morning had been to check out of our hotel at Naka-Gora and reverse our path via the cable car and Hakone Tozan train to Odawara where would catch a Shinkansen to Tokyo. There was no rush for that as the train I had selected from Gora left after 10:00 am.

Majella and I were up soon before 6:30 am and had breakfast of some buns Majella had bought in Moto-Hakone yesterday with green tea. The clouds seemed higher this morning than yesterday and when I went out for a walk around the local streets there were some patches of blue sky. It seemed worth another try at seeing Fuji by using our passes to go up and over the mountain again.

Sophie was up and ready before 9:00 am. We packed our bags, went downstairs to check out, and left our bags to be picked up later. We took the cable car up to Sounzan and the Ropeway as far as Ubako but, while the clouds were higher and we thought we could see a dim shadow of a mountain, we did not see Fuji. We rode the Ropeway and cablecar back, picked up our bags, rode the cablecar down to Gora, and  caught the train toward Odawara on my original schedule.

We were in good time to catch the Shinkansen I had planned to Tokyo but once there we were temporarily lost. Our train came in on Track 19 and my search on the Hyperdia app said we could catch another Shinkansen from Track 21 for a 5 minute ride to Ueno. Our problem was we could not find Track 21. that may be the Tokyo equivalent of the Harry Potter track for Hogwarts. Luckily Hyperdia had some alternatives on local lines and we used one of those to continue to Ueno Station.

Once we managed to find our way out of the station we had a few minutes walk up the street to the Mimaru Tokyo Ueno East Hotel. It was not yet 1:00 pm so I was expecting we would need to drop our suitcases and come back later to check in but we were lucky and our room was ready. This is an apartment hotel so we have a studio style space with double bed, two sofas (convertible for sleeping), kitchenette with associated pieces, and other essential facilities. It is all quite new. When I checked it on street view before booking it was shrouded in scaffolding for renovation.

We dropped our suitcases in our room and headed out to look for lunch. As we walked back past Ueno Station we saw a sign for a food court across the road and went looking. It was spread across different floors in a building. After trying several floors with grills and sake bars and almost losing Sophie when a lift took off with her alone, we found that the noodle place we wanted on the ground floor was closed. We walked down a nearby alley and settled for bread rolls with salad and meat for Sophie and me and fish for Majella.

There had been no room where we bought the rolls so we took them across the road to Ueno Park where we sat and ate them. Then it was off to the lake at the other side of the park where the swan boats were operating to fulfil Majella’s wish from yesterday. We spent almost the full half hour we paid for with Sophie and me pedalling to propel the boat and Majella steering. By that time we had had a sufficient workout and were ready to go ashore.

We walked around the end of the pond thinking we could then walk back through the park toward our hotel. Our way was blocked by the Zoo so, after a moment of discussion, we went in. There were some interesting animals, including several like the okapi that we had not seen previously, but most of the enclosures were depressing. The sight of two aardvarks pacing aimlessly around a bare enclosure was particularly sad but far too many of the spaces were bare hard surfaces. A few seemed better suited to the needs of the animals with tree branches and other features that were in some way similar to their natural environments. We had been attracted by the prospect of seeing the pandas but by the time we found that section the queue was 50 minutes long and we needed to be back at our hotel in much less time than that.

Pauline and Tony Wind were in Tokyo for a couple of days between a cruise from Australia and a tour of Japan. Majella had arranged to meet them at 4:00 pm at our hotel and go to dinner. On the way back to the hotel we picked up some drinks and nibbles and arrived on the dot of 4:00 pm to find Pauline and Tony waiting in the lobby. We went up to our room and chatted for a while over drinks and nibbles. Pauline had a guide to local restaurants which we looked over before heading out after 5:30 pm to look for dinner. We found one of the restaurants that seemed reasonable and enjoyed a meal together. Majella had udon noodles with brown sauce (which included vegetables and a bit of chicken), Sophie had citrus sudachi gyoza (dumplings with lemon chicken), and I had chicken Teppanyaki. After we left the restaurant Sophie topped off her meal with Baskin & Robbins ice cream.

We walked with Pauline and Tony back to Ueno Station where they took a train to their hotel. We strolled the streets to look at some of the nightlife and then headed back to our hotel via a 7-11 store where we picked up some breakfast items.