Hakone is, yes, a crowded spot. Where in Japan is not crowded? Still it has an intriguing appeal to the visitor. Expectations are usually meet if you do not ask for too much. In this trip, nevertheless, I had learnt about the lack of discipline in my family. Gone are the days when
I said "smile!" and every one did it in a perfect sincrony. It took several shots to get every one smiling...
I am glad that -at home no one follows orders like cows. Looking forward to seeing my kids performance in life...
Fondest memory: Be together.
There is no more recognised symbol of Japan than Mount Fuji, and every visitor to the country hopes to see this iconic volcano, so perfectly conical in shape, just as a child would draw one. But the weather in this region (indeed in most of Japan) is not especially reliable, and own many days Fuji is shrouded in cloud. For several days before our visit here the talk in our group often turned to this topic - would we see Fuji?
On the morning of our day out in the Hakone area the sun was shining and our fingers firmly crossed. We took the bus to Gora and from there the funicular and rope way to Owakudani Hot Springs. As we emerged from the cable car station and started to climb towards the hot springs, suddenly there she was - completely clear and also, unusually, devoid of snow. Andrew was very surprised by this latter sight as he had never before seen Fuji snow-free. You can imagine how many photos we all took, both then and later from the second cable car that took us down to Lake Ashi.
Andrew promised us an even better view later in the day, when we would be able to photograph the volcano with the lake and one of its red torii gates in the foreground. But as I have said, Fuji is elusive and does not reveal herself willingly. By the time we reached this spot, in the afternoon of the same day, the clouds had descended and she was hidden from view. But no matter - we had seen what all visitors dream of seeing, a dream that only some are able to realise.
Next tip: a cruise on a pirate ship!
This is a great buy if you plan to spend any time at all travelling around the Hakone area. You can buy a pass for two or three days (our three day one cost 4,400¥ from Odawara while a two day one is currently (October 2013) 3,900¥) and use it for free travel on all the varied forms of local transport – local trains, buses, the funicular railway, all the cable cars and even on the pirate ships on Lake Ashi.
As a bonus, you also get discounts at some of the attractions – for instance, we got 200¥ off entry to the Open Air Museum and 100¥ off at the Hakone Checkpoint. So keep your pass with you at all times to get maximum value from it.
You can buy the pass at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station and there are various prices depending on where in Hakone you want to start using it. If you aren’t using a Japan Rail pass to travel to the Hakone area you can get even better value by buying a 5,000¥ one (two day price – three days is 5,500¥) that can be used for the journey there as well.
The freepass website shows the savings you make and the various forms of transport covered, although I don’t think it factors in any additional savings made on sightseeing. It also has information about the different forms of transport and the places where you can use it to get a discount – of which there are many and varied!
Next tip: our stay at the Fuji-Hakone Guesthouse
Favorite thing: Another museum that worths a look is the Glass museum - exhibits both classical and contemporary glass works. It's within 7 minutes walk from Fuji-Hakone Guest House [see my accomodation tips under Japan page and ask lovely Tomomi and Chihiro the direction]. It's a small but stylish museum.
Favorite thing: I went there for the museums. Here is the Open Door Museum, where all exhibits are placed in open air instead of inside a hall.