The ryokan where we stay is close to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car which brings tourists like ourselves uphill. At the Sounzan terminus, one switches to ropeway for a yet steeper rise. Sulphuric vapours and steaming swift rivulets pour along the slopes far below, the foliage has turned to red all over the mountainsides and at Owakudani close to the top we change cars. Going down on the other side opens a new view; down, down towards lake Ashi – a sharply blue iris contemplating the view of Mount Fuji.
At the other side of the lake we hit upon a former imperial highway, planted with cedars all along for shelter. We follow the narrow path, climb another hill – more steep than high – by a flight of stairs and trek through the forest above… Turning around a ridge, we find ourselves facing Mount Fuji once more, now more distant but clear in the crisp afternoon light. After a couple of hours, we reach the country road of our own times, asphalted and with a bus that brings us back to the shores of Ashinoko. And, as the sun sets, Mount Fuji reveals itself for a third and last time this day.