13 July 2002
We had one day of glorious weather and it really was spectacular. The lake. The view. The hotel. The culture. (And, yes, the food.)
It has been blustery most of the rest of the time, like being inside a very windy, dense cloud. And that's just fine. We came here to relax. So, we've done a bit of wandering. A bit of sight-seeing. A bit of hot-spring soaking. We both agree that Hotel de Yama and this part of Hakone would be very fine to visit again.
During our walks, Jackie has been particularly taken by the hydrangeias. She has returned the favor, by taking many of them, pictorially.
We are at an area of Lake Ashi that seems to have little that is tailored to non-Japanese tourists. We like that. The fact that we came mid-week and that the weather has been iffy means that the crowds have been pretty light. Finally yesterday, on Saturday, we saw another white couple in the hotel. The only English we have heard from any hotel guest was from a Taiwanese guy who spoke no Japanese. We try to do as much as we can with our cryptic Japanese and the staff seem amused. Most of them have minimal English, and overall our efforts seem to work. Sometimes, though, we don't make any progress and just have to settle for not knowing whatever it is we were trying to find out.
Hakonemachi is the name of the town about 5 minutes' walk down the path. The picture on top is a view from the town that shows the same gate that we came across during our early morning walk. What you get when you click on the image looks a bit better.
The bars, left, cover a shop that is closed. Jackie noted that they put the chickens out for the night, to guard the place.
The hotel has proved interesting. It is well run and all
that, of course. The interesting part is the mix of French and Japanese
influences. The building emulates a French chateau, but has some Japanese
touches that are lovely. Jackie is taken by such things as the french tree pattern
on the Japanese "yukata" robe we are using in the hotel. She
also likes the Japanese fireplace.
The hotel has a French restaurant and a Japanese restaurant. We broke down and ate in the French restaurant last night, for our final dinner. We were curious how well they did French. It was fine, albeit with small Asian touches like bits of ginger over the white fish and meuniere (sp?) It also was pretty boring. That's not their fault. It's the nature of the food, relative to Japanese food. Oddly, though, the workers in the French restaurant all had pretty good English. Far better than the rest of the hotel staff. I kept having trouble deciding whether to respond in my limited Japanese or my limited French or my limited English. Very confusing.
Two nights ago was our big meal. A serious "kaiseki" dinner, with a very large number of elaborate, tiny dishes. Although I have had a couple of such "performance art" meals before, I can't really judge this one on any absolute scale. On Dave's personal scale, it rated a 10, and he's pretty demanding when a meal is that expensive. Alas, the variety and complexity of the dishes was overwhelming and I won't even try to describe them. Maybe Jackie will give it a shot.
Today we head for Yokohama and my week-long meeting.
And here are Jackie's
set of Hakone pictures.
And this will take you to the notes on Yokohama.