After months of planning and cancelling and re-planning, finally the weather and schedule permitted us our much awaited trip to Hakone, a part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo.
After reaching Shinjuku station,we decided to take the Hakone 2-day free pass by Odakyu Railways,priced at 5000 yen covering all the 5 means of transport in Hakone i.e.train,bus,boat,rope-way and cable-car.We then boarded the Odakyu Ltd.express and with one transfer at Odawara, reached the Hakone-Yumoto station.From there we took the Hakone Tozan bus till Moto-Hakone for the Hakone Shrine and the Cedar Avenue walking trail.Alighting from the bus, the first thing we saw was Lake Ashi(Ashinoko),which was formed after Mount Hakone’s last volcanic eruption 3000 yrs ago.
From the bus stop as we walked right we were greeted by this huge orange Torri Gate (marks the entrance to every shrine in Japan).Walkingalongside the lake,we came across orange lamposts along a trail leading to a long flight of stairs to the Hakone Shrine.When we reached the top,there was this long queue at the main entrance.The temple seemed quite similar to all other shrines in Japan…huge coutyards, orange structures, lamp-posts, slanting roofs, prayer tablets and wish strings..
From the shrine,we walked alongside the lake back towards the otherside of the bus-stop and followed this map to reach the Cedar Avenue trail- a 15 min walk through tall cedar trees till the Hakone-Machi stop.
From there we boarded the famous Pirate Ship bounded for the Togendai stop.On board the ship,we enjoyed lovely views of the vast Lake Ashi and the surrounding mountains.Though it was quite a clear day but Mt.Fuji preferred to stay hidden from view…and just because of that we may have to plan another trip some other time.
From the Togendai boat pier,we headed for the ropeway and were fascinated by its sophisticated mechanism and structure.These were huge brightly coloured cars with a seating capacity of 10 people.Also,the launch up the rope was quite swift and smooth.
As we approached the Owakudani stop,we could already see the fumes rising from a distance.As we alighted we came across several boards warning us of the danger from these sulphorous fumes due to the volcanic activity in that region.
There is this folklore famous about the black eggs in this place.These are eggs boiled in the sulforous water which gives them a black coating.It said that eating one such Black egg adds a life span of 7 years !! And all around people were gobbling down these eggs…atleast 5 each.But because of the stiffling smell of the place and eggs n eggs all around,we could not even think of having one..
From Owakudani we continued in the ropeway till Sounzan where we transferred to the Cable Car bound for Gora.From Gora we took the Tozan train to stop for the open air museum but the entry was already closed.Hence we headed back straight to Hakone-Yumoto station and returned back through the luxurious Romance Car which reaches Shinjuku in about the same time as the Odakyu Ltd Express and the higher price is mostly due to the sophisticated interiors.Overall it was a lovely trip and we may just visit Hakone again during autumn !
P.S. Some of the snaps are contributed by our friend Rohith 🙂 Thank u 🙂