Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekend Getaway to Hakone

Last month John and I went to Hakone for a weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Hakone is a little mountain hot spring resort town south of Tokyo, and it seems silly that we'd never gone before considering it's only 35 minutes away by shinkansen.

Like most vacation destinations in Japan, there seems to be a standard itinerary that allows you to see all the sights in a day - it involves different types of trains, chair lifts and even a pirate ship, and goes in a loop through the area. Passes are sold that significantly discount the cost of doing everything, but we decided to take it slower and only do a few things.

Hakone is most known for the many hot springs and the views of Mt. Fuji. We weren't sure if the weather would be clear enough, but we lucked out and had excellent views both day. And there was never any doubt about the onsen being good. We went every morning and evening at our hotel. If you're a little shy or just looking for some solitude, I highly recommend hotel onsen in the morning. Japanese people generally bathe at night, as do tourists that are dirty/tired/achy from their daily adventures. So both mornings I had the onsen entirely to myself (and snuck my phone in for a few quick shots).

Another huge highlight for me was taking a cable car up to Owakudani, an area with lots of sulfur vents. From the air we had a great glimpse of Mt. Fuji before clouds rolled in, and then started to see the sulfur billowing up from the mountains.

If you enjoy cable cars (or ropeways as they're called in Japan) there is another cable car that runs to the top of Mt. Komagatake. It's all steel and cement and looks straight out of the Soviet era, but the views from the top were the best views we had of Mt. Fuji all weekend.

Onsen at the Prince Ashinoko Hotel

Sulfur vents at Owakudani

The original Tokaido road - lined with cedar trees

Hakone Shrine and Mt. Fuji sighting from Lake Ashi

View of Mt. Fuji from Mt. Komagatake

Mt. Komagatake Ropeway - seriously ugly, but worth the view

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