Tuesday 3 January 2012

Dec 2011 in Japan: Hakone.

We made a day trip to Hakone. As recommended by my friend, we bought Hakone Freepass round trip tickets from Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd. It cost JPY5,000 per adult (from Shinjuku). This is really good value for money as you will soon find out.

The counter at Odakyu in Shinjuku.
My tickets. Both tickets had to be inserted at the same time at the turnstile gate.
It got us on a Limited Express train that took about 85 minutes to get from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto station. Buy your tickets a couple of days in advance to get good seats.

Limited Express. Try to book seats on the first train out of the station.
Then, we took the Hakone Tozan Train, stopping to visit an onsen and to see Fujiya Hotel, the oldest hotel in Japan.

108m above sea level.
Hakone Tozan Train.

Their Majesties visited Hakone in 2009, I was informed.

An onsen in the wilderness.
Beyond this point, no photos were allowed.
Recognise these famous personalities? They stayed in Fujiya Hotel in 1978.
We went on to take the Hakone Tozan Cablecar which reminded me of the Peak Tram in Hong Kong.

At 553m, Gora is the lowest cablecar station.
Hakone Tozan Cablecar.
The highest point the cablecar could go to. 761m above sea level.
Then, we took the Hakone Ropeway. We would call this "cablecar" in Singapore. It is quite unique as the cars are suspended on two ropes instead of one. Even so, they swayed a bit because of the strong winds.

Hakone Ropeway.
Photo taken from my "cablecar".
Reached the top at Owakudani. 1044m above sea level.
We were blessed to have relatively clear skies and could see Mount Fuji in the distance. My camera's zoom function was not working properly and I could not take a close up shot but it was majestic.

Shy Mount Fuji in the distance playing hide and seek.
At Owakudani, climbing up the sides of an active volcano to see and, inadvertently, smell the sulphur hot springs was an experience. We had to suffer really strong wind chill. Brrrr... Then, we saw people trying the eggs cooked in the sulphur springs. They called them "Black Eggs", for obvious reason.

Owakudani, 1050m above sea level.
Steaming hot springs everywhere.
Many bought Black Eggs here.
Weird looking egg, don't you agree?
People could choose to buy only one egg instead of five in a shop at the ropeway terminal instead of the peak.
Then, take the Hakone Ropeway to Lake Ashi. From there, take a leisurely cruise to Hakone Machi-Ko or Moto Hakone-Ko. Then, take the Tozan bus back to Hakone Yumoto station.

Took the ropeway again, this time from Owakudani to Togendai on Lake Ashi.
This was the ship we took as the sun was setting.
Beautiful Lake Ashi, a caldera lake.
Got off here.
Ship docked as the sun was setting in the background.
Took the same Limited Express from Hakone Yumoto back to Shinjuku. It was a happy day trip.
All the different modes of transportation described here for JPY5,000 per person! Enjoy!

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