Exploring Japan

A Day in Hakone

My husband and I have been wanting to go to Hakone, a place known for its onsens or hot springs and a scenic view of Mt. Fuji. However for several months now but whenever we try to look for a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with private onsen, it was either fully booked or very expensive. And since it was just a few hours away from Tokyo, we decided to have a day trip instead.

We opted to go via Tokaido line from Tokyo to Odawara instead of starting from Shinjuku as recommended by most travel books and blogs since we are not really in a rush. Plus we were able to reduced our train fare since we took local trains.

When we reached Odawara, we availed of the two-day pass that allows us to unlimited free access to different transportation means within the area such as trains, cable cars, rope ways, buses, and boats. From Odawara Station we took the Tozan train going to Gora station. Since it is a small train, it was quite crowded inside. But the trip was fun because of the great view.

The scenic view along on our way to Gora station

When we reached Gora, we made a walk uphill to the Hakone Gora Park. It is a large park that has an English garden with a huge fountain in the middle; a Japanese garden; a rose garden; tropical greenhouse with a collection of hibiscus and bougainvillaea; and a craft house that offers hands-on activities such as pottery; glassblowing; and sandblasting.

Pink weeping Sakuras welcomed us in Gora
Refreshingly beautiful fountain in the middle of Gora Park
Inside the botanical greenhouse in Gora Park

After that we walked back to Gora Station and took the cablecar going to Sounzan then took the ropeway going to Owakudani. This place is known for its good view of Mt. Fuji. However during that day it was very cloudy so we were not able to see much. We enjoyed this place because of its unique surroundings. The area is located in an active volcanic zone so we were able to see actual sulphuric fumes coming out from the mountains. We also made a small hike up to the place where they make the kurotamago or the blackened eggs cooked in natural hot water. It is believed that eating such would prolong one’s life by seven years.

Ropeway experience on our to Owakudani
This is how the famous Kurotamago or black eggs were made

After a quick lunch in Owakudani, we continued with out ropeway ride going to Togendai where we had our boat ride across Lake Ashi. Although it was a bit windy and chilly, the 40-minute boat cruise was superb! The lake is surrounded by mountains thick with colorful trees especially sakuras. I guess going there in autumn would be as beautiful.

Our boat ride ended in Hakone-machi where we visited the Hakone Sekisho or the Old Military Checkpoint  and then walked through the cedar avenue going to Moto-Hakone. From there we took the bus going back to Odawara station.

Exploring the road beside Lake Ashi
Walking to Moto-Hakone via Cedar Avenue

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