Its been a while since my last Japan post but I am still keen on getting all 10-11 days of our time away in Japan..Now, I’m getting pretty close to the best part of the whole trip… that time when we made a trip to the beautiful Hakone area and stayed overnight for my birthday eve + birthday morning. We had to leave Osaka pretty early just to avoid peak hour human traffic, and to get to Hakone nice and early just so we’ll have some time exploring the area before we can check into our accommodation. I miss awesome food-on-the-go thats NOT junk food. Here, these visually and tummy-pleasing bentos for our 3hr trip to Hakone. We got off JR Odawara station to get onto the Hakone Tozan Line (not owned by JR) We were heading to Gora, and as you can see its not cheap traveling on this line but not much choice if you want convenience. This is the lovely little town of Gora, there wasn’t much in the central parts just a few shops along this short strip and a few Japanese Guest houses/hot springs. Tourists mainly do a pit stop here just to get onto the cable car which takes you to the main attractions of Hakone. Hilly road right next to the ryokan we stayed at. I lied in my previous post. Here’s evidence of Mr’s 2nd bottle of Coke in Japan – I wonder if I’ll come across more? We dropped our bags off at the ryokan and headed off to do a bit of sightseeing! Sulphur mines! We took the cable car to the very last stop – Lake Ashi, what a breath taking place! We mainly did an express day trip to these tourist attractions (as we were hoping to get back in time for check-in and relax at the ryokan), so did not board the tall ship for the cruise as most tourists would. Instead, this caught our eyes from a distance. Tall, bare trees with a bit of foliage growing along the trunks. I was crazy about the muted tones, and afternoon light was nice and soft. Can’t explain how badly I wish I had a couple to photograph then and there… So my silly boyfriend had to do 😛 We didn’t get to venture very far on this map, maybe next time! I’m sure he struggled, especially after feasting for the last few days in Osaka. We love adding to our collection of tourist coins! Finally at Owakudani, the rotten egg smelling I mean the sulphur mines. This stuff is bad for you, I was scared to inhale too much to be honest, especially with all the warning signs around the area. “Who farted?!” We walked to the peak, there stands a little shop that sells black eggs – well pretty much just eggs boiled in the sulphur and some chemical reaction that causes the eggs to go black. If I had a blindfold on and tasted these eggs, I wouldn’t be able to taste the difference between these and a normal egg… because it really is just a normal egg with a different appearance. BUT apparently these eggs have magical properties… that each egg somehow extend your life by 7yrs. What better way to spend my birthday week than (attempting) to increase my lifespan by at least 7yrs? They only sold eggs in packs of 5 which Alfred and I shared it equally, so we should’ve increased our years on earth by approx. 17.5 yrs EACH. Next tourist-must-eat is… the black ice cream. I have no idea what the flavour is, I just know for a fact that its NOT black sesame (sad face), regardless it still tastes pretty good whatever it is. Some say its charcoal, some say its egg.. Back to Gora to check into our accommodation! This is pretty much what you’ll see when you step out of the station. Our accommodation, at Setsugetsuka is conveniently foot steps away – where the cherry blossoms are. There aren’t many reviews of Setsugetsuka, so I pretty much relied on photos that people post up on instagram and tripadvisor. I initially wanted to splurge on my birthday weekend by spending it at Hakone Ginyu, but they were booked out months ahead 🙁 This may not be the next best thing, but I felt it was good value for money. We paid around $200 per person, per night. We were only there for a night. People think that staying at these Japanese guest houses are expensive… yes it does sound expensive as a figure but once you break it down, you are pretty much paying for a (fine) dining experience, a big breakfast, accommodation plus all the other facilities offered (hot springs). I think its pretty fair. I picked Setsugetsuka because of its private hot springs baths which you can use at no extra cost and does not require booking. This is pretty important to us since we were only there for less than a day and want to guarantee getting a chance to enjoy the hot springs. There is a souvenir shop in the lobby. After you check in, you can make your way to the shelf just outside the souvenir shop and pick out a yukata which you can wear during your stay. Yukatas are more like robes for men and women, however if you feel uncomfortable wearing these, you will find Japanese style PJs in your room. Definitely the biggest room during our whole stay in Japan. Complimentary green tea You get a wooden bath, pretty private once you pull the shades down. Did not get to use this, because this is just normal tap water not hot springs. View from the balcony My pretty pink yukata – I wish I grabbed another to change into for the next day! Its not weird at all wearing this around because you’re not the only, even the guys wear it 😉 It would be more weird NOT to wear it because you would definitely stand out. Can’t read Japanese, but this was our menu for the night. They didn’t have the kaiseki (traditional Japanese style fine dining) menu available that night so we had to go with the nabe set (Japanese hot pot) which was still pretty good, to me anyways. Alfred found some dishes weird. Complimentary alcohol of some sort Can’t not have sashimi on the menu Slightly different types of miso pastes on Tofu. By the time dessert appeared in front of us, it felt like a challenge with our tummy capacity, it was hard to resist just looking at it! We cleaned the plate in the end. We discovered the ryokan’s pet rabbits, Hana (meaning flower) and Yuki (meaning snow)! At this point, we missed our furry one back home (Miss Lola bun)
Yes we were pretty stuffed after dinner that night, but it didn’t stop us from going back after 10PM for a complimentary serving of ramen! I’m not usually a fan of eating before bed but that bowl of ramen just felt right, in my tummy ;).
Next up! My Birthday!
Come back soon 🙂