Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lookin' for some hot stuff, baby this evenin'

For some reason or another, every time Blake and I have planned a trip to Hakone, a mountain town southwest of Tokyo well known for its volcanic hot springs resorts and views of Mount Fuji and only a couple of hours away from us, something has come up and we've had to cancel. We kept hearing of friends' adventures there and seeing beautiful photos and just never making it ourselves.
Just walking around the town is charming!

Until this weekend! We finally made it! We could make it one long day trip, but that would mean close to five or six hours on trains and buses just getting there and back, not to mention any travel around. We chose to make it a little more relaxing of a getaway and did the long trip out there Friday after work and stayed the night at a hotel to rest up before a day of exploring. We found a nice western-style hotel with an onsen, instead a more pricey (but definitely worth the experience when you're in Japan) traditional Japanese inn or ryokan. I took advantage of the onsen before bed for even more relaxation, and we both enjoyed the breakfast provided in the morning.
One night away from home and we accidentally pack the same shirt (our family reunion shirt from when Blake's entire family came to visit us this summer). Luckily, we both wore hoodies most of the day.

The first few hours of our day seemed like just going from one mode of transportation to another, but the variety of transportation methods and the lovely views of the fall leaves in the Hakone National Park were the point. The joy is in the journey, after all.

Our first stop was Hakone Shrine and the gorgeous torii gate submerged into Lake Ashi, a volcanic crater lake.

Then, even though it hadn't been high on our priority list, we took a reproduction pirate cruise ship north on Lake Ashi. It was included in our Hakone Free Pass, a pass we decided to buy at the last minute that covered most bus routes and all the other transportation we took plus discounts or entry at a variety of other places in the area that was well worth the money, and it was going from where we were to where we wanted to be for the next leg of our adventure, so why not? It was a lovely little cruise with excellent leaf peeping opportunities. On clearer days, we would have seen Mount Fuji.
The ship Victory

The same torii gate from earlier!

It dropped us off at the beginning station of the Hakone Ropeway, which we took all the way to the end and then took a cable car.

We stopped at Owakudani, a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents, including a new one from a small eruption in 2015. Here, you can eat black eggs that have been boiled in the sulphuric water. Each one you eat is said to add seven years to your life!

After lunch at a Ninja Cafe, where the staff were dressed as ninjas, we headed to Yunessun, which was conveniently only a few minutes by bus from the end of the cable car line we had just chosen to take to the end and go from there. It's almost like I planned that! (Maybe part of me knew this, but I did surprisingly little advanced planning for this trip. I knew what we wanted to do and kind of where stuff was, but we figured out the travel parts as we went.)

Yunessun is basically a onsen themed water park. There is a traditional onsen portion, though we skipped that this time, but the main attraction is the family friendly, bathing suit area with a variety of different themed baths. We tried just about all of them! It was a chilly day, so relaxing in a warm bath was just what we needed. Besides the ones pictured below, we tried a few different tea baths, one in a cave with an aquarium of jellyfish, and more!
Coffee bath (sorry about the water on the lens)


Wine - This one was probably our favorite. Fun color and nice temperature, so we started and ended our bath exploration here.

Then, though there were many other attractions in the region that we could spend days locating and enjoying, we decided that we would also be well served by not completely exhausting ourselves and heading home in time for dinner (which we picked up on the way).

It was a great day and we're so glad we finally made it! Hopefully, we can go back and see some of the things we missed!

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