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Japan, Day 4: Hakone

May 17, 2009

Woohoo! Bright and sunny day for a day trip to Hakone! We got the Hakone two day Free Pass (it’s not free…) which allows one to take the myriad transportation available in Hakone for a decent discount. I wish they had a one day pass, as time was tight for us and we could only schedule one day in Hakone, but for those with more time, the best thing to do is to get the pass and spend a night in a Japanese style hotel (Ryokan) in Hakone and enjoy the famous hot baths (Onsen).

We arrived in Hakone-Yumoto station after a pleasant train ride via Odawara. From there, we took the Hakone Tozan Railway (Japan’s first mountain railroad) to Gora. It was quite packed in the small train, but the experience was quite nice, climbing little by little up the mountain through lush greenery. After ariving at a stop in Gora, we went up the hill via a small cablecar up to Sounzan, then switched over to the Hakone Ropeway to head over to Owakudani (“Great Boiling Valley“). The Ropeway was SO much fun and if we had more time, I probably could spend quite a bit of the day just going up and down on that thing! Of course the view was spectacular, with some points where Mt. Fuji was visible (but no good pictures because of the reflections due to the window.) Here we go on the way up (quite steep!):

Hakone Ropeway

And a general idea of the view:

View from up high

And we arrived at Owakudani! It was quite windy up there, and we could definitely smell the sulfur in the air. We walked around to the other side of the station, and there was a great view of Mt. Fuji!

View of Mt. Fuji from Owakudani

Walked around a bit more to get closer to the smoke (sulphur vents?).

Sulfur Vents at Owakudani

Sulfur Vents II

Sulfur Vents III

There was a short hike up a bunch of steps to this place higher up in the mountain where there was a small hot spring where they boil the famous black eggs. Check out Mt. Fuji in the left corner!

Egg Boiler

We then went back to sample some of them famous Black Eggs:

Black Egg

Yum

Yum!

The story goes, if you eat one, you add 7 years to your life. For some reason you’re not supposed to eat more than two and a half. I ate two, and Maryam ate three haha.

We then went back on the Ropeway to Togendai, on the upper corner of Lake Ashi (Ashinoko). They have these crazy pirate ships there which you can take (Hakone Sightseeing Boat) to the lower end of Hakone. On a nice day there is a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji from here, and I’m sure if we had been here earlier today, we would have been treated to one, but the light was now going the wrong way, obscuring the view. Despite that, the ride was really nice, and we ended up at Moto-Hakone where I walked over to Hakone Shrine where a Torii can be seen in the water.

First, Togendai:

Pirate Ship at Togendai

Lake Ashi from Togendai

On the pirate ship:

Pirate Ship

Pirate Ship on Lake Ashi

Hakone Shrine:

Entrance to Hakone Shrine

Dragon water spout

Shimenawa on Tree at Hakone Shrine

Torii

Here are two nice overviews of Shinto shrine elements for those interested:

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shrine-guide-2.shtml

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2059.html

After this we got onto the bus, which was a nice leisurely ride down the mountain, and then headed back home.

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