[S-series] Tokyo-Hakone Travel Journal Part 1: Arrival in Hakone and Odawara Castle
[S-series] Tokyo-Hakone Travel Journal Part 3: Exploring Hakone 2/2 – Sightseeing boat, Hakone Shrine, baby wishing tree, (Image-intensive and excess words!)
[S-series] Tokyo-Hakone Travel Journal Part 4: Going back to Tokyo, Ichiran Ramen, Cat Cafe Calico and Sensoji!
[S-series] Tokyo-Hakone Travel Journal Part 5: Last day in Japan, The Roastery by Nozy Coffee, Yoyogi Park and Blue Bottle Coffee.
Watch day 1 here:
We woke up early today, hoping to cover all the places we shortlisted. Its a long list and it involves a lot of walking. Ambitious. We will be attempting what was known as the Hakone ‘Loop’, which goes one round around the popular tourist sights in the Hakone region, but I’ll skip all the museums and art exhibits because I’m an uncultured swine. I preferred to visit what nature has to offer rather than paying entrance fees to see man-made art pieces and wasting time contemplating what the heck the artists were trying to tell me. Limited time limited funds and limited interests, that’s about right for me.
Susuki is the Japanese name for Japanese Pampas Grass, also known as Chinese Silver Grass. I think I’ll stick to susuki because its so much shorter than the others.
We woke up early in the morning to catch a local bus for Sengokuhara. The buses were easy to navigate thanks to the popularity of Hakone to foreign tourists. The buses all have a few languages showing on the screen telling you which stop is coming up next. Combined with Google Maps, even though its not very accurate, its good enough for us to navigate.
The bus took about 20mins from Miyagino town to Sengokuhara.
We stopped opposite the cute bus stop, absolutely have to snap a shot. Then we made our way to the Susuki-Sogen or the Japanese Pampas Grass Fields. So long-winded..
…Then the disappointment.. You see, we expected to see at least a little of the golden grasses on the fields.. But I found out too late that we can only see the golden grass during autumn. Its summer now and all the susuki are green. Bummer.
Claire was very impressed by the neat rows of pine?/spruce? trees up along the tree lines. We had a tight schedule, if not I’ll probably drag her into the forest just to see how its like inside. But if a bear appears I won’t know what to do, I know I wont win.
So after taking a couple more photos, we made our way back to the cute bus stop and catch a bus back to Miyagino, where we’re based for this couple days.
We noticed the Little Prince Museum along the way on our bus. Claire thought it looked very grand and the little Prince is cute, even though both of us never read the book and know next to nothing besides the name ‘Little Prince’. We still end up alighting our bus and made a detour to visit the place. We entered the lobby, went up to the ticket counter and inquire about the entrance fees, saw the price, and left. LOL. It was a little over our budget so we just took a few pictures in the front garden. FOC.
We then catch another bus and went on our way back to the town. Where we followed the dreadful short cut up to Gora station…
Fancy us finding red maple leaves in summer. Onwards to Gora station for our cable car ride. The Cablecar is really just a few cabins on a track hanging by a few steel cables by the side of the mountain. We got dragged up by the cable from Gora to Sounzan station, and the journey was best described like a sardine in a packed can. The cabin is our tin can, and we are the sardines, dragged along the side of the mountain to Sounzan. In between both terminal stations are a number of stops to other attractions in the area, but everybody seems to be going to Sounzan, hence the metaphor.
The Sounzan station is the terminal station for 2 services. The Hakone Tozan Cablecar from Gora, and the Hakone Ropeway to Togendai. After escaping from the can (of sardines), we decided to take a breather outside the station. Its mid day now and all the tourist never bothered to come out and explore the area, they just went straight to the ropeway. Well we usually try to avoid crowded places, because that’s the essence of exploration isn’t it?
And this is what we found, right outside the station. A little caravan kinda cafe. Well I don’t see the ‘locomotive’ attached to it anywhere so I think its quite permanent here.
There isn’t any other customer inside the cafe, I thought since its such a hip(pie) coffee joint it must be crowded right? Well its either his coffee is bad or the tourists here only follow what’s shown on travel guidebooks. Anyways, since Claire posed at the door step of the place, I have to patronize it right? So we ordered 2 coffees to go. Its decent coffee this guy makes, so it must be the tourists here don’t know how to explore then.
We then went out to the carpark and took in the view. There’s the mountain with the word (大) on it, in Chinese it means ‘Big’. I believe it means the same thing in Japanese too. Intrigued by it, we decided to take a wefie with it.
After the coffee break, we went on to take the ropeway. I took our very own cablecar back in Singapore, so I know what to expect. But Claire never done that, so she quite excited, or scared. I don’t which is more true in her context.
Owakudani is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents as you can see from the ropeway. It gives a great vantage point to see the whole valley, its especially awe-inspiring when your ropeway car goes over the mountain and the whole smoking valley comes into view. Its also equally awe-inspiring when you got hit with wave after waves of sulphurous stench.
See what I mean? Look at that lady covering her nose in the ropeway.
If only those smoking vents were some aroma-therapy-eucalyptus-essential-oil-kind-of-stuff if you know what I mean.
Well before we ride the ropeway, we were each given a piece of disposable wet tissue to cover our nasal orifice, but because no one is using it, so we didn’t as well.
We alighted at Owakudani to see those fuming sulphurous vents and eat the black eggs. Legend states that eating one egg can extend our lifespans by 7 years. So we bought a pack of 5, split them equally between us, and now we each have 17.5 years added to our original lifespan. Duh.
After eating the eggs, we took some wefies with the help of my well worned 2nd hand tripod.
Then I noticed in the distance, hidden behind the clouds, was the magnificently symmetrical cone of Mt Fuji. But its so cloudy over there its like its hidden behind a veil. Too bad for us, best season to see Mt Fuji from Hakone is autumn I heard, we’re one season early.
Now my friends, I realized how I’ve made this post a rather long winded one. That reflects my character, I’m a 32 yrs old male with a mental state of an elderly man. With that, I shall end it here and adjourn my relentless ramblings till next time.
Yours sincerely, with lots of saliva,