2 Days in Hakone

Hi everyone!  I'm still in the midst of recapping last year's trip to Japan, and today we're visiting Hakone!  I normally wouldn't bother recapping a trip this late after we went, but this truly was my favorite one I've ever been on, and each city was completely unique and unbelievable.  So- even though it might the anniversary of the trip by the time I talk about everything, I WILL finish this series!  (To recap, you can also read my posts about the basics, Tokyo, and Nikko).


Like I mentioned, this post will cover Hakone.  After visiting the big city of Tokyo, it was great to get off the beaten path and relax a bit in this resort town.  Known for the amazing onsen (hot springs) and views of Mt. Fuji, this is the place to visit!  We were here for two great days, filled with lots of sight seeing and relaxing.  If you're visiting Tokyo, this is perfect for a day trip (just take the Shinkasen to Odawara and catch a taxi or train to town). Here's what we did!


Hyatt Hakone Resort and Spa

This hotel was absolutely incredible and luxurious.  Some highlights of the resort include complimentary happy hour in the "living room" (huge, open room with a wood burning fire place), on-site onsen (hot spring bath), and resident sushi master who cut fresh pieces of fish right in front of us for one of the best meals of my life.
We wore traditional yukata (sort of like a bathrobe) and slippers around the hotel, which was a really nice experience.

Yunessun Onsen Resort

After settling into our room for a bit, we headed out to an onsen "theme park".  After reading a lot about Japanese onsen and the culture surrounding these hot spring baths, I knew I wanted to visit one.  The only downside to traditional ones are that they are segregated by gender (since you typically have to be completely naked while in the water), and tattoos are prohibited (they are associated with the Japanese mob, so most places don't allow visible tattoos).  However, we found a place that we could stay together-clothed- and my tattoos were covered!
Since this was a "theme park", there were lots of different types of baths we could enjoy.  There were  distinct coffee, wine, sake, and green tea baths (which had "show times" where someone would come and dump wine or coffee on you!), "doctor fish" that nibbled at your feet, an outdoor waterslide and cave, and baths that looked over the incredible view of the surrounding mountains.  We spent the most time at the outdoor baths, because it felt amazing to be in a very warm bath in the chilly winter weather.

Hakone Free Pass

We picked up a 3 day pass when we got to the Odawara train station, which allowed us free access on all local transportation.  On our first full day in Hakone, we decided to take the round trip experience, using all of the different forms of transportation:

Owakudani Valley

First up was a short walk to a cable car (I think there's usually a train or funicular we could take, but it was out of service), which took us up to the top of an active volcanic zone called Owakudani Valley.  We got out of the car and wandered around a few shops and restaurants, and also grabbed a 6 pack of black eggs.  The eggs are cooked in hot springs and the shells are blackened by sulfer.  Eating one is supposed to prolong your life by seven years!  From here, it was also really cool to see all the fumes rising from the crater.

Pirate Ship

After getting back on the cable car, the next station was Lake Ashinoko.  The lake was absolutely beautiful and bright blue thanks to the sunny day.  Unfortunately there was a cloud covering Mt Fuji, but we could see a bit of the mountain as well!  We got to take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise across the lake (which was also covered by our pass) which was really fun!

Port area

We ended up getting off the boat at the first stop, in order to visit the shops and a few landmarks.  The town around the port was really cute, and we grabbed some snacks before beginning a hike around Onshi-Hakone Park.
It was a really beautiful walk with lots of viewpoints of the lake and Mt Fuji.  The former imperial palace is also in the park, and you can walk around and look at some old pictures of the area.

Hakone Shrine

After finishing our walk, we made our way to Hakone Shrine.  It wasn't huge, but still very charming and featuring a floating torii on the water.  It was set in the woods as well, which made the entire scene feel very serene and special.

BOX Hotel Coffee Shop

By this point, I was ready for a stop to relax and grab a drink.  We happened upon a hotel / coffee shop (I noticed a sign for %Arabica, which is a Japanese coffee brand that I heard a lot about) and went inside.  We were treated with the CUTEST coffee shop ever- every single corner seemed to have so much care put into it, and it was pretty much an Instagram dream.  There was a back patio that led out to the water as well, and I bet on a warm day this would be a great place to relax.  I ended up getting an Americano, and it was great!

Chisuji Waterfall

We took a bus from the coffee shop to a trail that took us to Chisuji Falls.  This was such a beautiful walk, and the payoff at the end (the waterfall) was absolutely worth it!  There was also a small park nearby where we got to walk around and see some beautiful flowers!


Small town or big city- what do you prefer?
Do you use public transportation when you travel?

Comments

  1. What an amazing trip. I love small towns and big cities equally - they're both intriguing in their own ways.

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