Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hakone: Get the room with a view!

Hakone is an easy day trip from Tokyo, but to really enjoy all it has to offer, it's best to stay at least one night. Hakone is famous for its hotsprings, some of which are pretty simple, some quite lavish (cypress wood tubs, marble floors, that kinda thing) and others just... fun?

There is one hotspring... centre (?) where it's like a bunch of pools with different types of hot springs. Depending on the season, they might have a green tea tub with a novelty teapot pouring green water into the tub, they have also been known to have a red wine tub, and also a tub with these little fish that come and eat the dead skin off your feet. Sounds fun but I just imagine it full of little kids and screaming babies and a lot of pee-ed in tubs :P

My husband (then-boyfriend) found a nice-looking Ryokan (Japanese style inn) that was right by the lake (Ashino-ko). It was a bit pricier than we wanted to but the lady at Odakyu Travel had stayed there herself and highly recomended it. She also suggested we pay a bit more (maybe it was like $10 more) for a room with a view of the lake. Great idea!

The typical circuit in Hakone is to arrive by Odakyu Romance Car (umm... it's just a train but it's kind of pink on the outside? I think the front window is really wide so you can see exactly where the train is headed. The view is usually blocked by parents holding their kids up to see the view.

I can't remember the typical order but there is a cable car that takes you over sulphur mines. It smells just like it looks

With that lovely waft in the air, we walked along the Owakudani Nature Trail (careful not to linger too long as the gases are poisonous...) and bought black eggs (only the shells are black b/c of the sulfurous waters). Black eggs taste like regular eggs.

At some point, we boarded this beauty and sailed accross the lake (Ahino-ko). I don't know what the connection is but some people still had fun:

The thing with ryokans is, usually a wonderful dinner is included. In our case, it was a huge spread of locally caught fish and other yummy stuff like tempura, hotpots etc. This meal alone, was worth the price of the entire trip!

The thing I love about the Yokohama area is that you can go on these mini-vacations that are just a 1 hour (+ or - a few minutes) away! I know the option is there to do this in Vancouver as well but for some reason I never get around it...

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