I fancied being away from a city, plus I saw a picture in a guide book of a pirate ship, so we went to Hakone Tozan. The guide book listed all sorts of activities, like hot springs and cable cars and temples (Japan has lots and lots of temples) but all I wanted was a little countryside with a view of Mount Fuji…and maybe a pirate ship. (If I’m honest, I might not have mentioned the pirate bit to Husband.)
Now, although I mainly married my husband because he makes me laugh, an added bonus is that he is exceptionally good at planning trips. So by the time I woke up the following day, he had sorted a rather complicated series of steps, ending at Lake Ashi in Hakone.
We got a train into Tokyo, then the shinkansen (a bullet train) to Odawar. There we were able to buy a two-day pass to the Hakone area. We took the local tourist train (Hakone Tozan Railway) to Hakone Yumoto. Here, we caught a bus, which went up the mountain, to Lake Ashi, also known as Ashinoko Lake. It’s a crater lake, formed on the side of Mount Hakone.
Lake Ashi was exactly what I’d hoped. As we arrived, the sun was shining, and there, in the distance, was Mount Fuji. It kept clouding over, and an iphone is not necessarily the best camera for taking views, but if you look very carefully, you can see it. In real life, it was very clear, and very exciting. The lake has ferries, which take you to various tourist spots, and one is designed to look like a pirate ship. I could tell Husband was impressed. (Actually, if I’m honest, his only comment was to wonder how they managed to get full-sized ferries onto a mountain lake. Did they build them on site, or were they helicoptered in?)
The whole area is a well known tourist spot, so there were lots of facilities (and luckily for us, not too many tourists). We bought lunch in a 7-Eleven (which is, interestingly, a Japanese owned chain) and ate next to the lake. Then we walked to a view point, across a bridge where you could see koi, up two hundred steps through a woodland hill. There were birds calling, the weather was warm and humid, the air felt green and peaceful. It was all pretty perfect.
We considered hiring a rowing boat or peddle boat, taking the ferry across to a temple, or going to see the hot springs. But really, to simply sit in the sun and listen to the water lapping and the birds singing, was all we wanted. That and a bin for the rubbish – Husband was strangely fixated on finding a dustbin.
We then caught the bus back to Hakone Yumoto. We bought tickets for the Romance Train, which was a slower and cheaper way to get to Shinjuku, where we could go on the JR line to the hotel. A ‘Romance Train’ is not, by the way, romantic. Kissing in public is considered indecent in Japan, and we saw very few people even holding hands.
Fabulous day out.
Thank you for reading.