Afterwards we were joined by a tour guide for a tour of Hakone and the national park surrounding it. We went up a mountain and hiked around the Owakudani hot springs watching the sulfuric fumes move up the mountain. The area is famous for eggs cooked in hot spring water which come out completely black - said to extend your life by seven years. We then navigated down the mountain to the Hakone checkpoint, a heritage site. The Tokugawa shogun had this checkpoint built in 1619 to control incoming guns and outgoing women. To keep loyalty to the shogun, his feudal lords were forced to live in Tokyo (then known as Edo) every other year and their wives and families held hostage there. The purpose of the checkpoints was to prevent weapons from being brought into Edo and wives and children of feudal lords from fleeing. The checkpoint was kept in operation until 1868.
Following a buffet lunch at a hotel on Lake Ashi – complete with green tea and black sesame ice cream (yum!) - we boarded a pirate ship for a cruise on the lake. Beautiful scenery, but still Fuji-san remains shy and hides her face from us.
Today’s evening festivities were held at the 8th floor Sky Lounge of the “Brush Up” Gotemba Kogen Hotel where we a had a traditional Japanese meal with citizens of Gotemba that have fostered and promoted friendship ties with Beaverton. We were taught the Gotemba dance (we weren’t very good) and sang a Japanese song (even worse), but we had lots of fun. We wrapped up the evening with karaoke back at our hotel with the mayor and deputy mayors of Gotemba. Hopefully none of this will show up on YouTube!