Hakone – 23rd November

Hakone is about 100 kilometers west of Tokyo and is famous for it’s hot springs and natural beauty.  I was itching to go out here for months really and I luckily got the chance to go 2 weeks ago with my housemate.  Unfortunately it was the busiest day of the year,  public holiday AND mid-November which is when leaves start to turn red.  Overall, I really enjoyed my trip here despite the queues and the hundreds of old Japanese women with silly hiking sticks continuously skipping queues (so annoying).  Also, it does seem to take forever before you actually get to see anything.  We spent 4 hours traveling/queuing in total before we got to the famous Owakudani (active volcanic zone spewing sulfur everywhere).

We started my day with a stop off at Odawara where I needed to change train.  A strange place really.  A small beautiful Japanese castle surrounded by…. a small cage packed with monkeys, the oldest children’s fair ground I have ever seen and a small concrete stage area where Japan’s oldest elephant used to stand so people could point and look at it.  It died last year and I think it’s a good thing.  I find it incredibly hard to believe they would put an animal of that size into into such a cruel confined area with no companions.. It just cruel.  Same with the poor monkeys.  The most depressed monkeys I have seen.  We swiftly moved on.

Owakudani – this was great.  Also known as HELL and it’s pretty obvious why (video below).  A pretty creepy area and not a place you want to get lost when it get’s dark.  I had my first Oden here which also contained one of Hakone’s very own black eggs.  A good place to chill out after all the transport and standing.

Lake Ashi – We then hopped onto a rope car to see this famous lake and to get a cruise across the lake in a massive pirate ship.  A really nice area with great views but no sign of Mt. Fuji.  I think I’m just not meant to see this mountain.  I slept on the bullet train to Kyoto when we passed it,  a no show at Mt. Takao (forgot to look) and now this.  I’m not too bothered really and most people can’t even recognize it anyways.  It’s a mountain amongst mountains.  Big deal.

After that it was onsen time!  We found one near Hakone-Yumoto station.  A foreigner free zone and I got the usual stares and giggles.  It’s pretty strange being white and naked around other Japanese people I have to say.  It’s just unnatural.  However once you get over the initial shock of it all it not long till you start jumping from hot pool to hot pool ignoring the stares and you actually start to enjoy it.  One of best things I have done in Japan yet (and so relaxing).

A selection of photos with remainder here in my Picassa.

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~ by redegg on December 5, 2009.

2 Responses to “Hakone – 23rd November”

  1. i like the family in the fog photo!

  2. Yea. Totally could have been a promo poster for “The Mist”.

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