Odawara and Hakone
So day 5 was a travel day for us and due to the kiddo getting his grump on middayish, we decided to leg it out of Tokyo relatively early to avoid having to travel with crazy.
We arrived in Odawara and decided to get to some greenery, so headed to Odawara Castle. We didn't know what else was around here, only that there were a few gardens, and we just needed space for the kid to be a kid outside of his pram. So we walked over from the station (about 10 mins) with big ol' faithful (our suitcase) and found the Castle.
It was beautiful and rather majestic, a nice backdrop for some serious role-play which was directed upon us by young squire. Since we knew we couldn't check in to our hotel until 3pm, we knew we had to fill in time.
It was fun and he was super cute and at one point Al took him exploring and they chanced across Oties actual heaven!
A little kiddy train, go-carts and best of all, those ride on cars that you put money in and they move around a bit while playing music... There were 30 yen a pop, all of them! AMAZING! So we just let it rain and the kid literally had the best time of his life haha.
We hung around there for a while before it was becoming clear that kiddo needed to sleep, so we set him up in his pram and went walking through the town. After he fell asleep we found some Ramen and then Mode Off which is a huge and excellent second hand store.
By the time Otis woke, it was nearing 3pm so we headed to our accomodation.
It was, how do I put this? Pretty funny. It was one station and a 10 min walk away from Odawara, which was fine but not ideal. The place was, in hindsight, what it was posted to be. But of course with those magical photoshopped photos it looked much more welcoming and less kitchy in the adverts. Whatchya gonna do?! We were on foutons on the floor which was a new experience and there was a tv and a couch and a 100 yen store down the road so hey, all was going to be ok.
OH! And bonus points for the weirdly cute playground close by!
We did the Hakone round course the next day.
I decided to go in the opposite direction to the usual route as it is golden week and CRAZY BUSY (I do not use those words lightly)...
So we started with a bus ride up to Lake Ashi which was pretty much a bus ride from my nightmares as it was packed, windy as all hell and I had a wriggling toddler on my knee that was feeling sick and crying for the most part. This was about a half hour trip. We finally reached Lake Ashi and after finding our feet, we boarded a PIRATE SHIP to, you know, cruise the lake. It was pretty damn cool actually.
We arrived at Togendai and by this time the kid had had it and we needed to put him to sleep. We wandered down a forest path and he finally drifted off. Al asked if we should stop for a snack and I was starving so I said yes. He passed me a collectable train tin from our trip the day before that had crackers in it and I opened it up and this was inside....
Needless to say, I SAID YES!
Such a ballsey move on a day that was already a toughie with a potential fiancee (me) that was hungry and grumpy and tired. I loved it!! I loved that it was amongst our chaos and that Otis was there (albeit asleep) and that we laughed a lot and cried a lot and then called each other fiance/fiancee a whooooole lot. It was great!!
We hung out for a bit till the kiddo woke up and then kept adventuring (because days with toddlers don't just stop because one has proposed... Haha).
We cable carred it up to Owakudani where we could see some sweet volcanic activity. Also, with somewhat foggy views but views none the less of Mount Fuji and keep heading down the other side towards the tramway.
Overall, the Hakone Round Course was fun and great. The reason I chose this place to visit was because I know the kid would loose his mind with all those modes of transport, and he did! It's just tough traveling with a kiddo on any given day, let alone when you have to stick to a route. Every section took time and by then end we were all utterly exhausted, but we are glad we did it!
Also I would recommend folk with kiddos to not do the bus. Do the course the recommended way, and go down the way you came up, after the cruise on Lake Ashi (which can loop around to Togendai). If you've got the Hakone Free Pass its worth using the different modes of transport as much as you can! Funner for the kids and no hellish bus ride!!
On day 7 we had grand plans to visit the open air museum but decided against the crowds and wanted to stick with Odawara and a 'nothing' day where we just cruise and walk and explore. It was the first nothing day and it was brilliant.