A couple of weekends ago, Emma, Steph and I decided to go on a last minute day trip to Hakone. The weather had finally cleared up and it was looking like a beautiful crisp Autumn day.
We met at Shinjuku station bright and early on Sunday morning and bought our tickets to Hakone. The Hakone freepass is a 2 day pass that includes many different forms of transport – train, bus, cable car (which I always think is a gondola type thing, but it is actually a cable train), ropeway (which is the gondola) and boat. We were determined to make it on all modes of transport so it was a good thing we started early.
It was a long train ride, close to 2 hours to Odawara station, where we had to make our first transfer. On the way, we managed to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji in all her glory! It was clear and fine outside, so Fuji-san looked absolutely spectacular!
The photo doesn’t do it justice!
Isn’t Steph’s excitement adorable!
It was a little tricky to actually get to Hakone as it involved a lot of transfers (particularly as we were trying to do this trip as affordably as possible). So we had to catch another train to Hakone-Yumoto Station. To start on the first of the ‘unusual’ modes of transport, we had to get to Gora station. However, as it was such lovely weather and peak 紅葉 season (autumn leaves viewing) it was absolutely packed with people doing the same thing as us.
So instead of waiting for the train in the massive line, we decided to catch the bus part of the way and then walk the rest. Some lovely concerned locals tried to help us get to where we needed to go and told us when to get off the bus. It is amazing how people will go out of their way here to strike up a conversation and help others. After some map difficulty (haha…as useful as google maps is, it doesn’t work all the time!) we made our way on a little trail towards the station.
Look out those colours!
After stopping off for a spot of lunch (and during which we were hoping that the huge line for the cable car would somehow disappear!) we made our way up on the cable car.
At the top we joined another long line for the rope way. There was an amazing look out point here, which helped with the waiting. By this time it had started to get a little chilly!
The ropeway took us to the first station – Owakudani crater. The staff at the ropeway gave us these mask like things due to the fact that the crater emits volcanic gases – sulfuric fumes to be precise. The crater was unlike anything I have ever seen!
The ropeway and the crater
After a mini-freak out (we thought we’d gotten off at the wrong stop of the ropeway, but in fact we had to get off and join another line to get on the ropeway again) we made it to the top of Mount Hakone. The sun was starting to set and this point and it was really getting cold. We were a little worried we would miss the last boat to complete our loop of Hakone, but luckily we made the last one at 5pm. And what a boat it was!
What a view! Unfortunately because the cloud cover had come along, we weren’t able to see Mount Fuji again.
On the boat we checked out the view and then headed back inside because it was absolutely chilly. So we bought a cup of sake and then camped out on the floor like all tourists do. We struck up a conversation with an older group of travelers and it turns out they were family friends of one of our JET friends, Rachel! What a small world! They were the most lovely people and they bought us a drink just because. How sweet!
Freezing on the boat! And the lovely couple we met!
It was a long trek home and I don’t think this is going to be my last visit to Hakone. I will definitely be back, hopefully on a less crowded day!