a travel fail tale in japan

We love reading blogs from other travellers, particularly those on the road with kids in tow. It’s fair to say, we rely heavily on the advice dealt out through the experience of others; general travel tips, things to do, places to stay. What we miss though are more stories of days where things just don’t go to plan… at all. We have plenty of our own (e.g. see this Bangkok post!) and reading about the travel fails of others would at least make us feel a little less inadequate.  Come on people…. help us out!!

So, in the spirit of sharing, here’s one travel day that went to sh*t with noone else to point the finger at other than …. me!  Yes, this was my day out to plan and execute. Lisa has contacted her legal team and denied any responsibility.

We awoke on our futons in a ryokan on the slopes of Mount Fuji the morning after Typhoon Faxai skirted past us, dumping a lot of rain and covering the entire Five Lakes area in a layer of green from millions of stripped leaves, as well as uprooting a few trees. (Poor people of Chiba Prefecture to the north took the direct hit and didn’t fair nearly so well.)

The fact that a storm of considerable scale had just hit the region didn’t factor into my day’s planning … at all. Why, the sun was shining into our room so what’s the big deal, right? We could reason that it’s because we’re from Adelaide where we don’t get typhoons (pfft…. only deadly heatwaves and bushfires) or more likely it’s that not one of my neurons were talking to each other that morning.

Our day then progressed in this chaotic order:

  • Plan over breakfast to go the nearby Lake Yamanakaka Forest Park of Literature but reconsider if it would offer enough for the kids.
  • After some cursory research over my muesli we jump in the car for an hour and a half drive to the renowned Mount Hakone Open Air Museum.
  • Arrive at Museum. It’s closed. Due to the typhoon. Of course. (It states this on their website if I’d bothered to look.)
  • Kick myself for a few minutes in a very large and empty car park.
  • Sit in the car for 15 minutes researching for something else to do.
  • Drive a short distance to a waterfall for a picnic.
  • Can’t find waterfall, clamber over uprooted trees and nearly step on snake. Have an argument.

  • Eat picnic in the car.
  • Sit in car for another 15 minutes researching for something else to do.
  • Drive a short distance to Owakudani, Mount Hakone’s crater, to see the sulphurous pools and vents (even though their website says the mountain was closed in May …. yeah, but what if the website is out of date and it’s reopened??)
  • Arrive at turnoff to crater. Massive gates. Three security guards waving us away with looks of disbelief.  Yep, I’m a bona fide idiot.
  • Start driving one and half hours back to ryokan.
  • Stop at unexpected drop dead view of Mount Fuji and buy some black eggs. A glimmer of good fortune to brighten our day.

  • Arrive at ryokan. Discover we’d passed within metres of POLA, one of the world’s premiere contemporary art museums. And it was open.
  • Cry into my noodles and black egg.

Just goes to show I can’t underestimate the benefits of research, and to be mindful of getting out and about the day after a natural disaster.

Hope anyone reading this feels a little bit better about themselves too.




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