Japan 2017 – Part 2: Hakone

I’m not normally a fan of trains, but I definitely fell in love with the Shinkansen as we pulled away from Tokyo. Leg room, beer, bento boxes and a quick trip anywhere. Combine 45 minutes on the Shinkansen with a sweaty, windy, hour long bus up the mountains and we ended up in the beautiful little lake-side mountain town of Hakone. It was here we were going to hike, relax in hot springs and watch Mt Fuji from the other side of the lake every day.

You should be able to see Mt Fuji in this photo. However it was hidden behind clouds almost every second of our stay. *Old man yells at cloud*

Hakone itself was a beautiful little tourist spot, regardless of the clouds.

During the day it was full of tourists day tripping from Tokyo. But at night it was empty. A ghost town.

Alex was off getting a tattoo, so I strapped on my hiking boots and climbed a mountain!

Mt Byobu was only 948 metres tall, the summit was completely enclosed by bushes and the humidity was a goddamn killer but you better believe I had a good time out there in nature, away from the normal crushing humanity of the Japanese cities. I only bumped into one other group on the trail, who I greeted with some Japanese small talk. They looked lost and asked me very carefully “do you speak English?! We are lost!” The look of relief on their faces when I gave them directions back to town was amazing.

It was also amazing just watching the moisture sit in the air. Every breath I took just hung as a mist in the air. I spent ages trying to photograph it between whiskys, failing miserably most of the time.

The best part of Hakone was our accommodation. We stayed in a traditional rayokan which saw us walking around in kimonos, sleeping on futons, eating full-on traditional breakfasts (they were my favourite) and ours even had a small onsen (traditional bath) in the building. I spent a lot of time soaking in the natural hot spring baths trying to chat to the locals.

Hakone is known for quite a few things, including it’s floating torii gate.

It also is adjacent to the old Tokaido highway. I hiked for hours along this 400+ year old road. The cobbles were slippery as all heck in the humidity but it was just awe-inspiring walking along it through the mountains, thinking of those who had walked on the same stones over the previous centuries.

I could have easily spent my whole trip in Hakone, relaxing in baths, eating at the only restaurant open at night (which was just like being in a family’s dining room), hiking all the mountains and of course waiting for Mt Fuji to peak it’s head out. Which it did for mere minutes early on our last day. Well, kind of. It was still largely hidden by the clouds right at the summit.

But we had another bus and bullet train to catch, because we were off to Kyoto! After a quick hour long stop in Odawara.

Here’s a full gallery of all the pics from Hakone:

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  1. By moshpitson » Japan 2017 – Part 1: Tokyo on October 9, 2017 at 7:32 pm

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