Hello from Tokyo! 🙂 Have been here for around two months now and I managed to roam around all the near by places in between my busy work schedule 😀 . There are several day trips which can be planned considering the awesome transportation here. Last week Japan celebrated their cultural day and hence we got a holiday. Sunday we (me & my colleagues) planned for a short trip, to meet Fuji -san (Mount fuji). I had planned to go on a trek which is a 7hours trek. But as the winter had started and I do not have proper accessories for a winter trek, I dropped that plan. What I can do now is to say Hi to Fuji-san from a distance.
There are several package trips where you can go close to Mount Fuji and all of them costs around 15,000 yen (150$) This will be in a bus towards Fuji, lake Ashi, Hakano and back in the Shinkansen (bullet train). There were options where they’ll take you on a round trip by bus. I wanted to travel in bullet train only 😀 So I used Japanese speaking skills to figure that out. Sumima Sen!! I checked on tripadvisor and I saw people writing about the disadvantages of travelling by bus especially as a tour group. When you are on a leisure trip, the last thing you need worry about is time and rush. I goggled and found out a couple of options, here I saved 3K yen and the freedom and bonus sites were priceless.
1) Shinkansen Only: Take a bullet train from Tokyo station to Odawara. From Odawara, go to the tourist information counter. There are english speaking staff to help you. Talk to them and take the Hakano pass. Hakano passes are for 1day, 2 day & 3 day. We took the 2 day pass as that was cheap and value for money.
What is a Hakano pass?
This is a travel pass using which you can travel in any of the transportation around Hakano town. That includes Bus, Ferry, Rope way, Tram, Mountain train, Local train, You can take this pass from Shinjuku also (but no Shinkansen from there). This pass costs 4000Yen (which is dirt cheap).
Odawara is the starting point if you are coming by Bullet Train/ Shinkansen. For those who prefer the Romance car from Shinjuku, they can buy this pass from Shinjuku. We started the Hakano tour from Odawara and the first in our list was Lake Ashi.
Laksh Ashi: It is a crater lake that lies along the southwest wall of the caldera of Mount Hakone, a complex volcano that last erupted in 1170 CE at Owakudani. The lake is known for its views of Mt. Fuji and its numerous hot springs. A number of pleasure boats and ferries traverse the lake, providing scenic views for tourists and passengers. Several of the boats are inspired by the design of sailing warships.
The Rope Way: We took the Hakone Rope way to Owakudani. It is a 15mnts ride and this is where you get a good view of Mount Fuji. Now this depends on the weather, clear sky is the best.
Ōwakudani: “Great Boiling Valley” is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago ( “black egg”) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised. I missed eating this black eggs now. I will eat it when I am here with my love so that its gonna add up to both of us 😛
We were here for sometime watching the beautiful scenery, valley and people. There is a small place where you get food (snacks, beer etc).
From Owakudani we took the ropeway followed by the tram to go back down to Hakone-Machi open air museum. This is a nice museum with works of artists from all over the world and a Picasso art gallery. This is one of the best galleries I have been to. Seeing the art works of Pablo picasso is an honor. The Picasso museum has many famous art works by Pablo Picasso. Any one who is a Picasso fan should visit this place. One thing, Please do not click any pictures inside there.
Outside the Picasso art gallery there is a hot spring. You can pamper your legs which is tired by all the walking done since morning. 🙂 Watch the sky colors and lighting. It was evening and we had to head back. So we started to Hakone- Machi stationa and then to Odawara. Waiting for shinkansen in Odawara station was an unbelievable experience. Man, Japanese Engineering is awesome.