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Last weekend (9/22/2007) we went to Hakone, a resort area west of Tokyo. We left our house at 6:30 to get to Shinjuku to catch our 7:30 Romance Car, the train that takes you to Hakone. There is nothing romantic about the train. It is a bullet train but it did not get up to “bullet “speed. It takes about an hour and a half to get there, but then we had to take another train to our first stop: the Hakone Open Air Museum. The Open Air Museum is an outdoor art gallery displaying many creative sculptures throughout its amazing property. Many of the exhibits were interactive and included an artistic playground and a sculpture that used colorful nets. Michael had a blast, playing on everything he was allowed to. Aside from the many sculptures, the Open Air Museum is probably the most famous for its “Picasso Pavillion” that houses many of Pablo Picasso’s works, from pottery to tapestries. The building was two stories of absolutely wonderful plates, wall hangings, and vases. Though the sculptures and the Picassos were beautiful, my favorite part was the foot bath. A long rectangular stone tub was filled with about a foot of water from Hakone’s famous hot springs for you to relax your feet in. The water was 50- 65 C (about 120- 150 F)The bottom of the tub was covered in smooth pebbles that felt good against your feet when you stood up. It was a really calming experience. After our visit to the Open Air Museum, we took another train to Gora, a small town in the Hakone Area. In Gora, we transferred to the cablecars which eventually took us to the Hakone Ropeway. We took the ropeway to a lake where we got on a pirate ship. Normally, you would have seen Mt. Fuji, but since it was so sunny and hazy we barely saw it. We stopped for lunch. The udon noodles with shrimp tempura was the best. We then boarded a pirate ship. There was not much to the pirate part of the ship but the ride across the lake was fun.
From the pirate ship, we walked around this little lakeside town, visiting some souvenir shops. We also walked along a trail called Cedar Avenue. It was a path that was surrounded by cedars everywhere you looked. The tall trees and shade were a nice break from urban Tokyo. After walking for about a half an hour, we headed to the bus station and took the bus to the sation and the train back home. It was a great day filled with all kinds of fun things.

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