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Hakone Travel Blog

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tori gate of the town Moto Hakone

I had been wanting to go to Hakone for a long time, my friends and people from travbuddy had told me that Hakone was so beautiful with the views of Mount Fuji in the background of the town but I didn't relise how much more it had too offer. If your into the arts you will absolutely love this place Hakone has galleries galore.

I woke up with a splitting headache, not from alcohol I had only had a couple of beers the night before but from breathing in the fumes of an old kerosene heater yes my  in -laws still use those terrible things and it caused me to have a horrible migraine. I refuse to take medicine for some reason it always makes me vommit but probably cause I was traveling I decided to take something  and sure enough ten minutes later I was bent over out the front of my in-laws neighbours house leaving them a late Christmas present.

Lake Ashino-ko and Mount Fuji
I guess it was better than doing it inside my sister in laws car who had kindly offered to drive us to the station. This trip my mother in law was joining us so it was the first time for me to travel with her.

I thought that  I would be able to sleep on the train for an hour to Maibara where we were to catch the Hikari shinkansen to Odawara before taking a local train to Yumoto Hakone but boy was I wrong as the train pulled up at the station, there were no seats only standing room. I guess everyone was traveling back to their hometown for their New Year holidays. I hardly spoke on the train, I mainly stared out the window trying to focus on something other than my headache which slightly improved over ride.

The boat on Lake Ashino- ko

We got to Maibara where my wife had perfectly timed the train schedule as we had only 15 minutes to wait for the Hikari shinkansen, which is the second fastest shinkansen the fastest being the Nozomi. It was my son's first time on the shinkansen, even though he  has been on a plane 6 times already. He was very excited, with my son playing with his new Christmas toys and my wife talking to her mum. It was a perfect time for me to sleep. I woke after about an hour feeling much better and in anticipation to catch the first glimpse of Mount Fuji from the train.

Mount Fuji came into view with its snow capped peak with about 20 minutes to Odawara station. It's a lone dormant volcano thats 3776 metres high, a sacred mountain that many pilgrims climb. Winter with its clear blue skys is the best time to view it.

My favourite pic of Mount Fuji
My first glance at the mountain and I knew I had fallen in love with it and have vouched to climb this mountain sometime this year. My first New Years resolution.

At Odawara station we bought a Hakone free pass ticket for 3900 yen (40$) a ticket that allows you to use all transportation  for 2 days for free. We caught the train which would normally cost 400yen( $4.50) if we hadn't had the free pass.15 minutes later we were at our destination Hakone Yumoto, a typical onsen town with beautiful ryokans, local handicrafts and shops filled with souveniers. Hakone felt a bit larger than other Onsen towns though. We took a bus to  where we were staying Hotel Okyumoto. The road was winding up the mountain and I was glad that I wasn't on this bus early in the morning. The bus stopped  at a few different ryokans on the way dropping off passengers before dropping us off, the bus driver was a grumpy rude man, unusual for a tourist place but I guess he had been running the bus routes nearly all his life.

steam from the volcanic hotsprings
Hotel Okyumoto from the outside looked a little old but we were welcomed with a warm welcoming and check in went smoothly though we couldn't use the room until 2 pm but who wants to be stuck in a hotel room when you can explore a beautiful new place.

Lake Ashino-ko was where we were headed , the major attraction of the Hakone region with a beautiful crystal blue lake with Mount Fuji rising over the lake in the background. Today was a beautiful day so I knew we would still have great views I was hoping to capture the mountain reflecting on the water and capture the perfect shot.

The bus stopped in at Ashino-ko, the town of  Moto Hakone greets you with a huge red tori gate, and a beautiful lake but no Fuji aaaaaaaaaaah where is it, where is my beloved Fuji I had to relax by eating a bowl of soba from a restraunt nearby.

hot spring egg
2pm came and it was our turn to catch the large junk boat, something you would more likely see in Hong Kong than a lake in Japan. As we sailed the wind blew and around the corner was the magnificent Mount Fuji , like little children the passengers on the boat all jumped up and down screaming aaaaah Fuji san aaaaaah and then click, click,click as people all took photos and then no soon as they did that they all raced inside to the warmth of the cabin. It was cold and windy but I knew I only had to  persevere for around 15 minutes before the boat docked on the otherside of the lake at Togendai. If you don't have the free pass the boat costs 1000 yen ($11) and the bus to the lake $6.

At Togendai, you catch the cable car to Mount Soun-zan. The cable car route  is 4 kilomtetres long which also has Mount Fuji in the background so I took more pictures of course.

Mount fuji
There are a few stops on the way you can get on and off at any of the stations but make sure you definately get off at Owakudani station, the station with the sulphur steam rising in the air from the volcanic hot springs. At Owakadani you can have a look at the couldrons of steam, bubbling mud and the sulphur smell. While there you have to buy the black eggs boiled in the mud, don't worry the outside is only black the inside is still normal and they are supposed to be really good for you. The cable car ride is 1300yen or ($14) if you don't have the free pass.

From Mount Soun - zan you take the funicular to Gora and also say good bye to Mount Fuji as it is no longer in view, without the free pass again it would cost 400 yen ($4.

Lake Ashino-ko
50).  Around the Gora area is where all the gallleries and musuems are. As we didn't have much time as it was getting late we only managed to go to Gora park which was free with the free pass or 500 yen ($6) if you didn't have one.  Gora koen would be a beautiful park in the right season but as it was Winter nothing was flowering though it was still worth a nice 15 minute walk around the park with a nice water fountain in the middle.

Back at the hotel, relaxing in our room eating Kaiseki food, typical Japanese set course at a hot spring hotel but at this hotel it wasn't that good probably cause Hakone is not famous for any food and then soothed in the hotsprings before getting a good nights sleep.

 

 

 

mewzak says:
A great review! :)
Posted on: Jan 18, 2009
shirlan says:
Wow! What a fantastic looking place. Great scenery and great photos!
Posted on: Jan 16, 2009
arlene0725 says:
Champai! I only saw Mount Fuji from my shinkansen ride to Kyoto and back.
Posted on: Jan 14, 2009
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tori gate of the town Moto Hakone
tori gate of the town Moto Hakone
Lake Ashino-ko and Mount Fuji
Lake Ashino-ko and Mount Fuji
The boat on Lake Ashino- ko
The boat on Lake Ashino- ko
My favourite pic of Mount Fuji
My favourite pic of Mount Fuji
steam from the volcanic hotsprings
steam from the volcanic hotsprings
hot spring egg
hot spring egg
Mount fuji
Mount fuji
Lake Ashino-ko
Lake Ashino-ko
boarding
boarding
Another boat
Another boat
Lake Ashino-ko
Lake Ashino-ko
Lake Ashino-ko
Lake Ashino-ko
first glimpse of Mount fuji
first glimpse of Mount fuji
Cable car
Cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
Mount fuji from the cable car
steam from the volcanic hotsprings
steam from the volcanic hotsprings
steam from the volcanic hotsprings
steam from the volcanic hotsprings
rope way and valley
rope way and valley
fountain in Gora Park
fountain in Gora Park
fountain in Gora Park
fountain in Gora Park
Dinner
Dinner
Hakone Sights & Attractions review
Gora park
Gora park is a park located near the Gora Station. It is well known for its beautiful water fountain in the center of the park as well as its French r… read entire review
Hakone General Tips & Advice review
Hakone free pass
The Hakone free pass allows you to travel on most transportation in the Hakone area for free including the train from Shinjuku in Tokyo to Hakone,as w… read entire review
Hakone Hotels & Accommodations review
Okyumoto Hotel
Okyumoto Hotel is located 10 minutes from the Yumoto hakone train station. It is your typical ryokan with tatami mats and very little furniture except… read entire review
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photo by: reikunboy