We made our way from Tokyo to Hakone via the RomanceCar Express from Shinjuku. It was pretty packed and we stood for most of the way. The layout of the train was maximised for looking at the scenery, rather than for maximising the amount of people it carried. We did it in a bit of a roundabout way, as we wanted to purchase our Hakone passes at Odawara. I basically relied heavily on Google (and other blogs) to see what the best way to do it was – in the end, we bought a ticket from Shinjuku to Odawara, and then made our way from Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto.
I read about Hakone in one of the blogs I follow (Cheeserland) and I got a lot of my info from there too 🙂 I was interested in visiting the lucky baby tree (lol) – afterall, I am unlucky in love…. I figured if I visited the baby tree it would at least give me some luck finding love! (Yes, I am superstitious like that……….)
The Hakone Shrine has an amazing tori gate – the Torii of Peace. It wasn’t as busy as I’d imagined it would be, and I only had to battle 3 tourists for a spot under the majestic gate for a photo! You could probably spend a fair bit of time exploring the rest of the grounds, but I’d ticked off the two things I wanted to do – which was to see the torii gate and touch the baby tree, so off we went!
We took a pirate ship for a cruise around the lake, which afforded us another view of the torii gate, and portions of the cable car line. We didn’t manage to get to Owakudani for their famous black eggs, as there was volcanic activity, and the line had been shut for a while.
While we were in Hakone, we stayed at a cute hostel called Hakone Tent. I initially wanted to fork out $$ for a ryokan, unfortunately, not everyone was keen (read: student budget) and most of the mid-range ryokan were all booked out. Hakone Tent had two onsen baths, which one could book, thereby making it private anyway, so I managed to enjoy myself nevertheless! The rooms were quaint and very traditional. We slept on tatami mats with traditional bedding you had to unroll. The reception area of Hakone Tent looked lovely, and they had 2 staff members on to welcome us. They had a wee bar, which you could purchase beers and a couple of common areas to hang out. It wasn’t a busy season, and we mostly had the areas to ourselves. The only problem = mosquitos! I was lucky and brought my sleeping bag liner and mummified myself, much to the laughter of my traveling companions…. BUT guess who was laughing the next morning when I was completely bite free, and they weren’t!
Important travel lesson: always bring a sleeping bag liner – a silk one is super lightweight and doesn’t take much room at all.
Hakone-out, Kyoto here we come!!!