Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Away: Hakone

After a month filled with planning and attending work events, constant interviews and general rushing about like a headless fowl, I took Friday off, jumped on the Odakyu Romancecar, and escaped to Hakone (Matcha-kun in tow).

I am a bit of a tetsuko at heart, and there really is nothing like sitting back in a fancy train, watching as the towering buildings of Shinjuku are slowly replaced by smaller houses and stations, which eventually turn to tanbo and winter forests.

Hakone is broken up into several areas, and one of my senpai recommended staying around Gora, which was perfect. The ryokan, Kiritani Hakoneso, was pretty basic, but then again neither of us can afford really high-market accomodation. The onsen (both regular and kashikiri) were great, with wonderfully milky white water. I actually would recommend it for those who want to visit Hakone with relatives, as they have tatami rooms with Western beds, and are quite accomodating to vegetarians!


The following day dawned rainy, but turned to mist after the ginourmous wa-style breakfast. Using the awesome Hakone Free Pass (which I highly recommend buying if you are in the area for more than a day), we went up the mountain to the prehistoric looking 'hells' of Owakudani, to check out the sulfuric springs and eat the famous black eggs (each one you eat adds 7 years to your life, apparently... in which case Matcha-kun managed to add 24 years to his lifespan!)



As we approached the Hakone Open Air Museum, the sun briefly burst through the clouds, and the mist disappeared like magic. Turn around for a minute, and the mist was back, as if nothing had happened. I actually thought this added to the atmosphere, as the statues slowly came into focus as you approached. I would love to visit it again in a different season, and think this is a must see. Nearby there is a little sushi palace, famous for its delicious inari zushi, yum!

After taking the adorably retro Tozan train to Miyanoshita, another onsen break was in order (yes, I love boiling myself in hot springs faaar too much), followed by a stroll down Sepia Road to look at all the antiques and beautiful yosegi zaiku, a form of traditional wood working that has a surprisingly Middle Eastern look to it. And then, the awesome bit of Meiji/Showa-ness that is the famous Fujiya Hotel.


While the exterior is purely Japanese, inspired by Kinkakuji in Kyoto, the inside is an amazingly preserved bit of nostalgia. European wood panels, huge squashy armchairs and chandeliers... all altered with delicate carvings and details to give it a Japanese twist. In the tea room overlooking the garden I splurged on the tasty strawberry-infused creation above, filled with matcha cream and decorated by yosegi zaiku inspired chocolate.

Two wonderful days of relaxing and eating everything in sight... returning to the real world is tough.


  1. Gorgeous place for an escape. I'm very jealous, I could do with a break too!!

  2. You write like electric. It's great.
    The Hakone Museum is my favourite in Japan.

    Nice blog.

    1. Thanks 222, I'm not sure what writing like electric means, but it sounds pretty shocking! (sorry, sorry....can't help myself)

  3. Ahhh, I can't wait to go back to Japan and go to Hakone.

    What do those sulfuric eggs taste like?

    1. Hopefully you can return soon(^_^)
      The eggs were pretty standard, although they might have a slightly mellower taste

  4. stunning~!! i really want to visit hakone, it has been on my list for years adn somehow every time i go back to japan i never end up going. these photos are beautiful! thank you~!

  5. Gorgeous photos you have there! Those alone make me want to get up and visit this place ASAP. :)