Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Hakone Experience

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Hakone is around 2 hours by train from Tokyo so it is a popular vacation spot for tired city people. This place is also famous for its onsens or Japanese hot springs. That is why I, together with my Thai classmates Kate and Winai, decided to go to Hakone one weekend.

There are several ways to get to Hakone, but we chose the Odakyu Line since it provides 2-day passes (although we just used it for 1 day) for Odakyu Trains, cable cars and buses in Hakone for 5000yen. When we got to the Odakyu Station, we saw a brand new "romance car" being inaugurated. Even if we wanted to, we cannot ride this since it is not part of our pass and it is more expensive (hehe).

Odakyu Romance Car (taken March 16, 2008)

It took us around 2 train transfers (if I remembered it correctly) and around 2 hours to reach Hakone. When we got there, we transfered to the Hakone-Tozan Line to Gora. We went down in Gora and walked around Gora Park.

Fountain in Gora Park (taken March 16, 2008)

After Gora Park, we rode the Hakone-Tozan Cablecar up to Sounzan then transfered to the Hakone Ropeway.

Hakone Ropeway (taken March 16, 2008)

By noon we reached Owakudani - the place of black eggs. Yes, you heard it right black eggs. Since Owakudani is a volcanic hotspot, these eggs were cooked on sulfur thus turning them black. Well the taste does not differ much, though, so don't be fooled by its color.

Owakudani Station (taken March 16, 2008)

After Owakudani, we went down to Lake Ashi to take the ferry to Hakone Machi. You can also view Mt. Fuji from this lake, but since it was cloudy, we saw no signs of Mt. Fuji :-(

Lake Ashi Ferry (taken March 16, 2008)

We rode the ferry upto Hakone Machi. In here, we went into the Cedar Tree Walk (a path lined with centuries old Cedar Trees) and walked around Hakone Machi.

Torii gate in Hakone Machi (taken March 16, 2008)

After this, we decided to experience one of Hakone's claim to fame - the onsen. We chose to go to Yunessun Onsen. This place has many types of onsen including the outdoor onsen. Entrance fee is 1700yen. Since this was the first time I was going to an outdoor onsen, I was very excited. Just imagine soaking your body in 40 degree celcius baths while feeling the cool spring breeze in your face. Yeahhhh!! We left after an hour or two and decided to call it a day. We left Hakone at around 7pm and arrived in Tokyo at around 9pm.

Hakone is such a relaxing place and a perfect day or weekend trip from Tokyo. If you go here, you must definitely try one of its onsens :D

1) Okakyu Line from Shinjuku to Hakone or better yet purchase the free pass (ride all you can including Odakyu bus, ferry and cable cars in Hakone for 2 days) for 5000yen
2) Odakyu Romance Car - faster but more expensive
3) JR Shinkansen to Odawara and transfer to the Hakone-Tozan Line

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