Today was a very stressful day of getting lost, train hopping, arguing, and lugging tons of luggage up a mountain. Hakone was a long way away and since we left the comforts of our apartment in Tokyo, I had to carry all my gear and luggage at the same time, making it very difficult to take pictures until later in the day.
The morning started off like usual, still not used to the time change, I woke up around 6 a.m and couldn’t go back to sleep. We cleaned up the apartment and headed out for some breakfast at a really cool place called Jonathan’s. It had a lovely drink bar featuring coffee, juices, and a large variety of teas. Afterwards, our long trek to Hakone began. It wasn’t until about five hours after we left Tokyo that we started to calm down. We began our train ride up to the Inn we’d be staying at. I could finally take some pictures to help myself relax! And I sure took a lot. The track we were on was called a switchback, which is used typically for going up mountains as the train will go up in one direction until it passes a split that continues up in the opposite direction. The train stops after passing this split, and then reverses direction and swaps back over the split heading up the mountain once again, switching back and forth, hence, “switchback.”
A cool bridge seen from the switchback.
Lowepro! I love my camera backpack, it weighs a ton with all my gear though.
Bored at a station.
Lots of buildings surrounded by trees as we head up the mountain.
Some possible volcanic activity, either way, beautiful.
Dad showing some skin and taking pictures on the train ride.
Lots of twists and turns on this track.
Some cute kiddies on a train stopped next to ours at a station. They were waving earlier but I missed it, either way, adorable!
Lots of mountains everywhere.
A view from inside Gora station.
Another train that heads straight up the mountain.
Thought something was wrong with my lens but that was actually there.
Travelling in a foreign country on the other side of the world is an amazing experience, but when you put four cranky sleep deprived people with different agendas and only one translator together, you get a great big ball of stress. After a long day of traversing across the countryside, we finally made it to our Inn where we could drop all of our heavy luggage off and go out to enjoy ourselves, but something about this place felt really weird. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was off. Em felt the same way and we both grew very uncomfortable.
The Seihoukaku Terumoto, the Inn we’re staying at.
The dining area of our room.
We decided to do a little bit of exploring around the Inn before any more plans were made. This mostly consisted of taking pictures outside the front entrance.
A lantern, among other things.
The “Relaxation Room” next to the lobby.
Some trees, I like trees.
We soon discovered we had a limited time frame before dinner, as it would be brought to our room, so we decided to just stay in for the day and enjoy the onsen. After settling in with some discussion and green tea, we headed off to the hot spring which was actually inside the Inn. The way these things work is like this: first, you must strip down completely naked and go to a bathing area as you must be clean before entering the public hot spring; no room for shy people here. The onsen is split off into two, one for the women and another for the men. You’ll go to a bathing stall where there is a small bucket and stool and have at it. After that, it’s time to soak in the hot spring. Obviously, there will be no photos of this. Instantaneously, our stress and worrying was gone as we slowly descended into the natural hot water. Suddenly, the Inn didn’t seem so creepy and we began to enjoy ourselves. There was also a separate spring with mineral water in it as well which was even more enjoyable.
We got back to our room dressed in our yukata, robes similar to kimono but more of a summer version, and also typically worn as bath robes. We all felt a lot better and prepared for our dinner which came soon after and surprised us all. The dinner featured Shabu-shabu, a hot pot where you cook your own meat in boiling water. It sounds like a pain but its quite fun and only takes seconds to cook the meat which in this case was pork and it was delicious! The meal also included sushi, tofu, tempura, and other traditional Japanese foods, some of which were unrecognizable or unknown even to Emily. A lot of it was great, some was questionable, and a little was borderline disgusting. But like they say, “when in Rome..” It’s all good though, with any bad food encounters, a quick chug of Sapporo seemed to fix anything.
Our dinner! Brought right to our room.
Dinner was great and we began to feel at home in our old smelly humid Inn. The onsen was the start and the dinner definitely finished us off well. Its a good thing we took it easy this evening as we have been really hustling and bustling around Japan trying to fit in as much as we can. Tomorrow we’re going to go right back to it but at least now we’re recharged and rejuvenated and will hopefully carry our new positive attitudes a little further, or at least until the next onsen. For your entertainment, here are some family photos of us in our Yukatas!
Family photo op. I smell a Christmas card in the making.
They told me to throw my peace signs up.
Tomorrow, after a day of wandering about Hakone, we’re going to be going to Kyoto. Kyoto is our third stop on the island of Honshu. Before Tokyo was Japan’s capital, Kyoto was the home of the Imperial family and their palace which still stands today, along with many other old sights and structures that were not harmed during the second world war. Among these pre-war structures are tons of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
We’re going to be spending a lot of time in Kyoto and during that time we will be seeing many of the fun and interesting things to see including the old Imperial palace, some of the shrines and temples I mentioned above, a place called Movieland, and Nijo Castle. It’s going to be a very busy four days
On our last day in Kyoto, we’ll be taking a short trip over to the Nara Prefecture to see the Great Buddha, or as the Japanese call it, “Daibutsu.” Daibutsu is about fifty feet tall and weighs around five hundred and fifty tons! That’s a big Buddha. More impressive is the building Daibutsu is housed in. The Great Buddha Hall, or Daibutsuden, is the largest wooden building in the world.