In retrospect, this day could have been put to better use, but what is done is done. Was addicted to the idea of seeing Mt Fuji up close so I elected to do a day of travel. I took the Shinkansen back up to Hakone
and bought a Odakyu Fuji Day pass entitling me to unlimited use of all possible modes of transportation around the Hakone/Mt Fuji area. From the train station, I ended up on the Odakyu "Romance Car" train-- Romance for it's plush salmon-flesh colored seats complete with lace antimacassers. This led to another smaller train that switch-backed its way up the side of a mountain through a sea of hydrangeas in bloom. Beyond this was a cable car that rose along the side of the mountain, which led to a rope way station.
From the rope way station at the other end, one takes a bus back down to lake level to catch the last thing one would expect: the Louis d'Or-- piece of real life Disney. At this pass it became pointedly clear to me that I would not be Mt. Fuji that day--it was so cloudy I couldn't even see the other shore until we were out on the water. It is very hard to imagine that you can be at the foot of a mountain and not even be able to tell it is there, but apparently this sort of thing is common with Fuji. After the boat, it was a bus back to the main train station. After an hour I was starting to wonder whether I'd some how gotten on the wrong bus. It was worrisome because I was not entirely sure I would know what to pay if I had to-- it seemed there was a system based on distance being illustrated on a light board above the driver. I made my train by running and headed back south.
However, the day was not a total loss. The only other people foolish enough to attempt this endeavor on a cloudy day were a whole pack of Japanese senior citizens. This is my favorite demographic in any nation and it seems the feeling is mutual. Everyone was incredibly welcoming to me--asking me where I was from, how my trip was going, what I liked best thus far. Many of them had come to university in the United States (in the early 40's) but their english was still impecable. There was a general curiousity as to what I'd been taught about Japan in school... the specter of war is still there.