Thursday, March 20, 2008

Made it to Hakone

A couple weeks ago, Driscoll and I took a long weekend and went to Hakone. Hakone is just east of Tokyo near Mt. Fuji. Thanks to a much-appreciated mistake by the Prince Hotel, we ended up with a mountain-view room facing Lake Ashi. It was pretty exciting being so close to Mt. Fuji. On rare visits to the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, we strain our eyes to see Mt Fuji through the hazy horizon. The view always leaves something to be desired, that something being the mountain. But from Hakone, Mt. Fuji is crystal clear. When we first arrived, we sat in our room staring at it for a couple hours. We must have taken a million photos. After that we went for a long hike. It felt really nice being in the fresh air again, surrounded by so many trees. Hakone is famous for all of the quirky, touristy modes of transportation. We decided to board the pirate ship and cruise around Lake Ashi. Later we took the gondola above all the volcanic steam rising out from cracks in the ground. The following day, freezing our tails off, we ducked into a little café for hot ramen and oyako donburi. There’s something very soothing about hot Japanese food on a freezing cold day. We also went to the Picasso museum and an open-air sculpture museum, which we enjoyed quite a bit. The onsen at the Prince Hotel was lovely, but they don’t do private reservations, so I doubt we’ll stay there again. It’s so much more fun to skinny-dip in hot spring water with your partner or friends than alone with strangers. Maybe that’s just the American in me talking.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yeehee D-san turns 32

You know you’re getting old when the two of you would rather go to dinner than spend a night out on the town with a bunch of people. I made a reservation at Il Buttero in Hiroo for Driscoll’s birthday. It’s a Florentine restaurant, which we’d been meaning to check out for a while. The number of super authentic and delicious French and Italian restaurants in Tokyo continuously blows me away. They are a real lifesaver when you’re craving something western. Il Buttero was fantastic. Probably the best (but most expensive) Italian restaurant we’ve been to here. It was the traditional appetizer, pasta, entrée, vegetable and finally dessert course set. So by the end we were so stuffed they practically had to roll us out of the restaurant. Good thing we took the long walk home. That’s one nice thing about dining out in Tokyo. As full as you get, you can usually walk it off by the time you’ve made your way home. Here, the waiters sing Driscoll an Italian birthday song.