This post is long overdue. I have visited this area sometime in July, when the unforgiving Japanese summer is at its peak, now the season has changed and autumn officially starts. For someone who considers blogging an outlet for a boring 11 hours a day job, seems like I encountered a “blogger’s block” and put this post on the back-burner. So, allow me try to remember how my day went exploring Hakone.
Hakone is another side-trip destinations from Tokyo or Yokohama which can be explored in a day. Easily reachable by local trains, I recommend for anyone to start early, regardless of which season of the year you plan for visit, since there is too much stuff to see and too many people looking forward for the same thing.
It’s fairly easy to explore Hakone. The most popular and often suggested way is by taking 5 different means of transportation ((train, cablecar, ropeway, boat and bus) or known as Hakone Round Course. You can do it clockwise or counter-clockwise, you’re choice (I went for the counter-clockwise direction, but I notice that the opposite direction is less crowded, so you might want to try it). What makes this the best way of exploring the area is not only the proximity of the places to see from each terminals but taking the rides itself.
- Tozan Railway passess through narrow wooded areas and reaching up to 300m high in altitude will bring you to one of the best museum I have seen so far- Hakone Open Air Museum.
- Before I took the Tozan Cable Car , I spend a few minutes exploring the western-style landscape- Gora Park. The park is quite beautiful and roses are in full bloom. Another good reason to appreciate the beauty of this country.
- Ropeway will bring you to Owukadani. This is an area accidentally created around Mt. Hakone, during its last eruption (3000 years ago). Here you will smell the sulfurous fumes and will see people eating a black egg cooked in the natural hot water, which said to prolong one’s life by seven years. (Nope, I didn’t try the egg.I wanted to but I can’t buy 1 piece only. So I loose the chance of another seven years!)
- Sightseeing Boat is the highlight of my trip. Thirty minutes ride along the candelara Lake Ashi (Ashinoko) on a lazy, sunny afternoon is just magnificent. All the tiredness that you felt from endlessly walking during the first half of your day will be completely gone once you sail along the lake. With the wind messing up my hair, it was a relaxing feeling and I don’t want the cruise to end.
- Once I reached the other end, I spend the remaining hours of my day by checking out the Hakone Checkpoint, Detached Palace and Hakone Shrine. Then, I headed to line H at the Bus terminal for my way back to the train station.
You might assume that Hakone Round Course must be expensive. Good thing in Japan, most popular destinations are offering combination ticket that will allow you to save some dime and time by avoiding buying each and separate tickets for every ride and places to see. Visit the Odakyu Railway office at Shinjuku and buy your pass for 3,900 Yen only.