August 24, 2015

Tokyo Day 4 - Hakone In 6 Hours



It's Day 4 and our last day in Tokyo. We set off early with an ambition to complete the Hakone tour in half a day so that we still have a bit more time to explore the last bits of Tokyo.

Hakone is a part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National park where visitors are able to get a glimpse of Mount Fuji in the near distance. The train journey from Tokyo is around an hour away and we bought the Hakone Free Pass which includes a round trip on the train from Shinjuku Tokyo and unlimited use of all associated transport within the Hakone area. 

The Hakone 'loop' is the best way to see Hakone, and consists of using different transport modes to loop all the way round Hakone. The transport was really fun, consisting of mountain train/cable car/ropeway/boat/bus! There are pit stops along the way and the loop took us in total about 6 hours to complete. 

Here are the stops we did during our loop:
  1. Shinjuku to Odawara
  2. Odawara to Gora 
  3. Gora onto Hakone Tozan Cable Car 
  4. Souzhan for the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani
  5. Owakudani to Togendai
  6. Togendai for the Hakone Sightseeing Boat on Lake Ashi and end in Moto Hakone/Hakone Machi 
  7. Moto Hakone/Hakone Machi for the Hakone Tozan Bus to Odawara 
  8. Odawara back to Shinjuku 

But before we get into exploring, breakfast first!

Breakfast part 1 - Passionfruit KitKat. This is utterly delicious and one of the best Japanese KitKat flavours around. 

Breakfast part 2 - Stand up noodle bar inside Shinjuku station. We had time to spare before our train so why not. Simple and delicious udon in a hot broth with a deep fried seaweed fishcake for dunking. I love Japan!

Breakfast part 3 - We've found another edition of the white sandwiches we love so much. This one with ham and mayo is delicious. 
 
Breakfast part 4 - So this was me being a piggy for breakfast, G had no part in this. A family mart purchase of waffle filled with matcha ice cream and adzuki beans...
  
From Shinjuku, the Romance Car limited express train is the fastest but also the most expensive way to get there. The name had us giggling and imaging a very pink train with hearts everywhere. Turns out it's just your average train. Like this:


The romance car! 

Once we arrive in Odawara, we look for the train to Gora. 

Gora is a cute little town with nothing much going on apart from a handful of houses and a few stores selling refreshments and souvenirs.


The queue for the Tozan Cable Car starts here. The cable car heads for Sounzan and we arrive 10 minutes later.  

Once at Sounzan, it's onto our next transport mode. The views from the Hakone Ropeway is serene and we catch our first glimpse of Mount Fuji.  
 
We take our first proper stop at Owakudani as there's lots happening here. There's a couple of restaurants here for lunch and the main attraction is the volcanic mountain/area. We could see the steam from a distance on the ropeway.
    Owakudani katsu curry with a boiled egg from the volcanic sulphur pools seems to be the thing here so we get one to try. It's pretty tasty! The curry is sweeter and darker than the average Japanese curry but the egg tasted like a regular egg.

    Eggs that are boiled in the volcanic sulphur pools of Owakudani is a real selling point here. You can buy them inside the souvenir shops, the hot snack shops and there's even Hello Kitty in a black egg suit.  


    A hazy view of Mount Fuji. 


    The steaming sulphur pools really smell of rotten eggs. 


    Time for refreshments! Egg flavoured soft serve sounded cool, I imagined it to taste like Chinese egg tarts... then I took a bite. It tasted of boiled eggs. Boiled eggs in my ice cream is never ever to be repeated again. 


    And the sulphur eggs that we suckers queued up for. Apart from the black shell, and a funky sulphuric-rotten-egg smell, it was just an egg.



    Time to get back on the ropeway for our next stop, Togendai. 
     
    Once at Togendai, we wait for the Hakone Sightseeing Boat which tours Lake Ashi. 

    Pirate boats!! The boats were impressive to look at on the lake and made me feel like a kid again. This is what happens in Japan, you'll be somewhere very beautiful and scenic and then something whacky like this boat will just throw you. In a good way!


    Lake Ashi is beautiful and it's so huge it doesn't even feel like a lake. There are a few Tori gates along the way too. We head for Moto Hakone/Hakone Machi where we'll alight for a bus back to Odawara. 

    Back at Odawara station and it feels like we've stepped back into the 1980's of Japan. How cool does Retro Japan look?

    Time for a final ride in the Romance Car back to Tokyo, where we still have more exploring to do. Bye bye Hakone! 


    More on our Japan honeymoon here
     

    6 comments

    1. Yay, I went on the Hakone Loop tour too when I visited back in 2010! I thought Owakudani was so interesting (though the sulphurous smell, less so). And the ice cream that tasted of boiled eggs - I die. Oh Japan. Missing the excellent train station bowls of udon - I put on so much weight on that trip as a result! x

      Tamsin / A Certain Adventure

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      1. The Hakone Loop is great isn't it?! Haha, yes I put on weight after Japan too! Thanks for stopping by Tamsin =)

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    2. Aaah, your posts just make me SO jealous, beautiful! Loved all the pictures - especially the Hello Kitty one :)

      Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches

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      1. Thank you Lyndsay! Hello Kitty was my favourite part of the Hakone loop too hehe x

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    3. Hi, great review! Would like to ask, how long did the Hakone round trip take for you in a day? And was the railway from Odawara to Gora scenic? Thanks!

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      1. Thank you! It took us 6 hours to complete, so set off early, and it will take a good half of the day. Yes the railway from Odawara to Gora was scenic, I have no idea why I didn't take any photos! Hope you have fun when you get there :)

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