Hakone - Onsen Baths & 5 Lakes
Updated: Feb 24
26 May Big day of travel to leave Kyoto to head to Hakone, walked and struggled with luggage over a series of 4 trains, including Shinkansen (bullet train) to get to Hakone. Arrived at Hotel which was again a very traditional Japanese style lodgings (700mts ^ S.L.) like the Monk Monastery. Gorgeous traditional rooms, with a welcome snack of green tea, bean paste cake and accompaniments - communal baths and very traditional Japanese Dinner and breakfast.
Headed to Brian & Nicola’s room and shared an ice-cold beer from Mini Bar fridge. Shortly after that it was time to move on and continue the tour we caught a local train, a zig-zag train that weaved its way up the mountains switching lines and different sections to get to the top. Along the way there were many stops for people to alight where they lived or worked in smaller style towns. After the zig-zag train we then went to a Cable-Car (rope bridge) to climb up a part of the existing volcanic hillside that still even today is very active.
The hillside, which looks very similar to a quarry is emitting natural steam and a very strong (rotten egg) Sulphur smelling gas, even turning the hillside yellow.
We stayed there at a lookout for around 1hour, through the shops tourist features (Black Egg). Kiyoe found us and handed out a black shelled hard-boiled egg for us to eat/try and was really nice.
Unfortunately, due to the weather, cloudy/misty day we were unable to see Mt Fuji at all and should have been able to, as we couldn’t have gone to a much better area of Japan to see her, but alas she eluded us.
Caught a local bus to the 5 lakes to have a Boat ride from one end of the lake to the other, again another perfect spot for that Photo opportunity for Mt Fuji, again ‘not today’.
For me quite disappointed and feeling let down, really wanted to see and get that Postcard photo. So, off to another bus-ride back to the Hotel, and I then decided to try the traditional Onsen (hot baths) and was required to cover tattoo and be naked, quite the experience, ‘when in Rome’. Well, got the experience I was after, not knowing what to do and the tradition felt out of place, but oh well.
The man in the baths area gave me quite a surprised and aghast look at my shoulder tattoo and signed to me in hand gestures to use the tiny towel and cover up. He then was quick to gesture to me, take off my underpants, then I can go in.
Oh well, kept on going and followed the tradition and went ‘Full Monty’ straight into a spa style area of bath, then tried a still bath with small fountain/waterfall effect. Stayed for a few minutes and then hit the showers sitting on stool/bucket. So back to our room to dress in my Yukata and found it hard to cool down from the hot baths, so decided to indulge again in a cold beer.
Karen and I then made our way to dinner after dressing in our traditional Kimono and Yukatas for a very traditional dinner.
Quite surprisingly dinner was quite good with variety of foods and accompaniments, both of us tried everything, again even Tofu, and I especially liked the Sashimi.
After dinner returned to room and found our Futons were laid out for the night. So, again relax briefly and semi-pack for departure in the morning, and believe it not, had a great night’s sleep.
27 May Again, breakfast was traditional but did not dress traditionally, and breakfast was certainly different and very little was eaten, however did try most things. After we decided to re-route our tour for the group to revisit the Lake to capture a sight of Mt Fuji as I was determined to see her if possible, still feeling letdown.
However, that was dashed very quickly, again very shy and not visible, so we re-joined the tour. Caught trains back to Kyoto to catch the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo, our last destination of the tour.
In closing, 'Take Every Chance You Get In Life, Because Some Things Only Happen ONCE', & let my stories and experience give you inspiration to create your own Moments.
Another 'Rivetting Moment', to inspire & ignite the traveller in you, to broaden life challenges & experiences!!!