A Travellerspoint blog

Day 11 Hakone

Visiting the Top Sights of Hakone

sunny 81 °F
View Japan 2023 on Helen K.'s travel map.

===large_DSC_2026.JPG The night before Mike and I bought food for our breakfast this morning from our go to place, 7-Eleven, which the Japanese just calls “Seven”. Instead of reaching for an egg sandwich, I decided to check out their aisle of bread and pastry. There are donuts, croissants, and rolls; many are filled with jam, cream, or slices of fruit. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, so I choose a single butter roll. Mike gets his usual egg sandwich but he adds a banana for a little potassium boost. I enjoy my butter roll. It’s been packaged in such a way that the roll hasn’t hardened. It is soft, with just enough of a butter flavor to make it tasty without the need for more butter. The Louies enjoy their complimentary breakfast because of their Diamond status. 20230421_080425.jpg20230421_080303.jpg20230421_072511.jpg20230421_072858.jpg At 8:30 we head to the lobby area to meet with our group for today’s outing.IMG_0079.JPG We take photos sitting on the red buggy at the hotel entrance and then head up towards Gora station.


The day is warm and sunny. I am wearing a long sleeved shirt, as is Mike and Janet. We have sent most of our luggage ahead to Tokyo so some of us only have the shoes we wore to the cold Alpine route. Janet is wearing her fur-lined boots. The walk is uphill.IMG_0086.JPG We come up to some stairs and see a sign. We use our cell phone to translate the sign.IMG_0088.JPG It says it’s a shortcut into town We have a choice of walking along the street which turns into a two-lane road without any pedestrian sidewalk for parts of the way or a series of steep stairs. IMG_0100.JPG Either way it’s uphill. We chose the safer way with the stairs. a297b9a0-0355-11ee-8d87-4141163a6ec8.JPGa24728a0-0355-11ee-8d87-4141163a6ec8.JPGIMG_0094.JPGIMG_0096.JPG The Ma youngsters are several feet ahead of us. Towards the end I am saying to myself, “I can do this, I can do this” with each step that I take. Two guys pass us going down. By the time we reach the top Janet has taken off her shirt and is down to her tank top. Mike has taken off his King’s shirt (they are playing in the playoffs today against the Warrior in SF) and he is in his white T shirt. We are all hatless but the Ma’s are wearing sunglasses. I had brought my sunglasses but had left them in hotel. We do a little storefront browsing as stores aren’t open yet. IMG_0111.JPGIMG_0112.JPG9f78c660-0355-11ee-ad13-5f2bcd3eee8e.JPG As we head to our first place of interest, Gora Park, we run into the guys that we had passed on our way up to town. They had gone down to their hotel and had made the climb back up already. Gora Park is on a steep slope above the Gora train station. large_385290f0-0356-11ee-bc0c-5184360dbd17.JPG The French style landscape’s main feature is a large fountain and a rose garden. large_DSC_1986.JPGThe perimeter of the fountain is roped off so you can only take photos from the front of the rope. The rose garden is not in season so it is barren as is the wisteria vine.large_20230421_093621.jpg Near the fountain is granite compass that sits atop a large rock. IMG_0155.JPGThere are steps for you to climb up and stand on top of the compass. Trina climbs up to see the city below.DSC_1974.JPG A chair in a tiny garden patio beckons you to sit and enjoy the scenery. large_DSC_1975.JPG Curiosity gets the better of Janet as she checks out a treasure chest. 20230421_093729.jpg Symmetry is a major feature of a French garden and there are many instances where it makes for an eye catching view. large_IMG_0153.JPG 20230421_093202.jpgIndoor in the greenhouse with exotic plants it’s surprisingly cooler than outside. Gorgeous orchids greet your entrance.DSC_1964.JPG There are tropical plants like banana and pineapple plants.IMG_0140.JPG There is a craft house for working on pottery and glass, but we only have time to look through the gift shop next door. large_DSC_1987.JPGDSC_1988.JPG I am very tempted to buy some cat souvenirs but I have made a pledge to purge and declutter as I head towards retirement. IMG_0161.JPGIMG_0162.JPG This is a very beautiful park with an open view of the surrounding mountains and blue skies and if our stay were longer, I could see myself returning just to relax and enjoy the scenery. large_20230421_093709.jpglarge_20230421_094315.jpglarge_37253480-0356-11ee-8d87-4141163a6ec8.JPG But we have only one full day in Hakone so we must see as many tourist spots as we can with our 3 day Hakone Freepass today. The Freepass gave us free admission to the park. For our next destination we use the Freepass to take a cable train, and then the Hakone Ropeway to visit a geo thermal hillside in Owakudani.large_IMG_0170.JPG IMG_0164.JPGIMG_0165.JPGIMG_0167.JPG0b84ca50-042f-11ee-a3b5-d78a6c8cd3ab.JPGIMG_0175.JPG As our gondola leaves from the top of Gora and travels towards Owakudani I hear someone say “There’s Mount Fuji!” We shift our attention to the right side and aim our cameras on the majestic Mt. Fuji. large_IMG_0196crop.jpglarge_DSC_2010.JPG We are very fortunate that the weather is good and the sky is clear. Our third time to Japan has proven to be our proverbial charm. This is first time for some of us to see Mount Fuji up close and clear. Just like with the snow monkeys, we can’t seem to take enough photos. Soon our attention is diverted to the left side of the gondola and the scene is something I have never seen before, a geo thermal hillside. large_DSC_2006.JPGlarge_DSC_2003.JPGThere are no trees or vegetation. It isn’t an attractive view but it’s a fascinating view. Steam is continuously arising from fissures. The ground below some of the fissures are yellowed from the sulfur deposits. large_IMG_0192.JPGThe rotten egg smell of sulfur is in the air. We are in the area called Owakudani which means great boiling valley. Owakudani is the area around the crater that was created when Mount Hakone erupted 3000 years ago. The steam that we see is evidence of active volcanic activity. We are on an active volcano! If you look carefully there are pipes carrying hot spring to hotels and resorts. large_DSC_2007.JPG The gondola ride ends once we pass over the hillside. We walk into the ropeway station to shop and then head next door to the black egg building where Janet and Mike buy black T shirts with Mount Fuji on the back of the shirt.large_DSC_2044.JPG Janet puts that on over her tank top. DSC_2023.JPG The Ma’s buy a bag of Owakudani black eggs, a local specialty and give us a couple to try. 20230421_110155.jpgDSC_2022.JPG Its black shell is due to the mineral deposits that come from boiling in the hot spring ponds. Eat one, legend says and you will have healthy child rearing and your life will be extended by seven years. DSC_2024.JPG Mike says “Well since we shared an egg, I will live three and a half years longer”. The eggs are sold hot and once you crack the black shell, it is a regular egg.DSC_2028.JPG Because the egg is hot, it's very tasty when sprinkled with a little bit of salt. We can see Mount Fuji behind the souvenir building. We take another look at the steaming hillside from the viewing area.large_DSC_2052.JPGlarge_DSC_2032.JPG large_1c140730-04f4-11ee-b1c2-9d4f35b8d5db.JPG In the area are cameras that I expect are used for monitoring the activity of the hillside and sirens that alert visitors of dangerous volcanic activity.DSC_2051.JPG 9753e690-04f9-11ee-9b2b-dd065ef319a0.JPG We take the second set of gondolas to Lake Ashi. We see another close view of Mount Fuji, but there are clouds obscuring part of the view. large_DSC_2058.JPG At the lake we board a sightseeing cruise ship built to resemble a pirate ship. large_20230421_123410.jpgDSC_2067.JPGLake Ashi is the lake formed in the caldera of Mount Hakone after the volcano erupted. Most of the area around the lake is undeveloped. The Torii Gate of Peace at the Hakone Shrine stands at the edge of the lake.large_IMG_0251.JPG A red bridge nearby leads towards the town of MotoHakone. 1a608d80-08a7-11ee-a965-edd81d1854a4.jpg We depart the pirate ship at MotoHakone and head to the main street which has a second Torii gate at the entrance of the town. large_b9f4e8a0-08a7-11ee-a965-edd81d1854a4.jpgThere we eat at a fish and chip or chicken and chips café. DSC_2097.JPGDSC_2096.JPG Outside the cafe is a vending machine that caters to cats and dogs. The cafe’s menu includes a pet menu. DSC_2090.JPG0335ee80-08ab-11ee-9fca-c3f7a1ee14ce.JPGDSC_2095crop.jpgTheir shirts which are available for sale has a cat logo. The Ma’s are seated at a coffee table and sofa chairs in a side room while the rest of us are sitting in the main dining room since they don’t have a table for six. IMG_0264.JPG IMG_5920.JPGThey finish first and shop for more souvenirs. We head to the train station and check the train schedule. Doug weChats the Ma’s that the express train comes in 5 minutes at 2:30. The next one is 20 minutes later. The Ma’s have texted photos of souvenirs with really cute cats at the shop they are at. They rush back to the station just in time for us to take the 2:30 train. Trina is now a certified cat lady like myself. It started with a stray cat and then a companion for it so she now has two. She had Kingman put together a catio so the cats can enjoy the outdoors in their own patio without being outside.
We squeeze in a visit to the Hakone Open Air Museum. At the entrance they asked if we still wanted pay for the admission since the museum was closing in one hour. We told them we understood and were ok. I really enjoy seeing art where the backdrop or canvas is the great outdoors.large_20230421_164434.jpg The museum is situated on a rolling hilly park which is surrounded by mountains. There many interesting sculptures. large_20230421_164449.jpglarge_20230421_163201.jpglarge_20230421_164806.jpg One of my favorite sculptures is a kinetic piece called Sixteen Sticks. It is made to rotate. The description states that the artist “exploits people’s tendency to stop and look when they see something moving.

The Picasso Pavilion featured a biographical video about the artist in addition to a collection of his art that included sculptures. large_20230421_161540.jpg20230421_161830.jpg The outdoor sculptures brought out the kid in all of us. 20230421_160016.jpgDSC_2143.JPG The Louies were able to make it to the Symphonic Sculpture before closing. The rest of our group missed it as we had headed towards the entrance. From the photos they showed us, I wished we would have gone there first.

Doug climbed to the top of the structure for an aerial view. When we got back to Gora station we walked by some beautiful bamboo carvings with Japanese characters with the name of the nearby hotels. large_20230421_170632.jpg We browsed in the Cat Goods store. 20230421_171023.jpg The Ma's walked back to the hotel while we waited for the van. Once again, they arrived at the hotel before our van was able to pick us up. This time the delay was because we didn't have the hotel's phone number to schedule a pickup. For dinner tonight we decided to try the other nearby restaurant, Tabiya, a restaurant that served pizza and some Japanese food. Trina ordered a shrimp broccoli dish which paled in size to Doug's prosciutto ham salad.9a553b30-08d4-11ee-98d5-733b70c957b1.jpg Instead of pizza, Mike and I ordered meats with a side of rice, but when I ordered after Mike, the waiter said "no rice". I didn't understand what this meant. Mike got rice, why couldn't I? Eventually we figured out that he meant there was no more rice. Mike had ordered the last bowl! This was a first for me, a restaurant in Japan, running out of rice. Fortunately Mike shared his rice with me. 9a558950-08d4-11ee-99eb-85b599e8c4f5.jpg7eeca760-08b7-11ee-be52-e53a5b6863db.jpg20230421_191428.jpg The portions were small, but everything was delicious. Afterwards Mike and I walked to 7-Eleven for our breakfast snacks while the others retired to their rooms to soak and relax in the hot spring.

Posted by Helen K. 04:47 Archived in Japan

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