A month in Japan seemed like a long time until we started looking at all of the possibilities and now is seems like we could spend the whole trip here and never stop exploring. Tokyo was an incredible surprise for me. In spite of living in NYC for 30 years, I am more of a small town girl, hence my love of Brooklyn. Most of Tokyo felt that way, with little homey spots to be found everyday. The overwhelming photos you see in guidebooks didn’t match the vibe.
That said, Tokyo station was NUTS! We managed to navigate the crowds, which were at a peak due to the upcoming Japanese Labor Day holiday weekend. The Japanese Rail (JR) pass, allows you to travel extensively on the high-speed bullet train and the smaller trains, we bought a 3 week pass which will take us to the south end of Japan.
We finally made our way to Hakone, a hamlet just 2 hours south of Tokyo, tucked in the mountains but very close the the coast. We took buses, trains, gondolas, boats and funiculars and did lots of walking to see all the many breathtaking vistas, Tori gates, Mt. Fuji, volcanic geysers spewing sulphur and incredible open air art museum that was a highlight!