Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Golden week is a great time to be in Japan as you get many days off. I decided to go on a day trip to Hakone.

Getting there

The best way to visit Hakone is to get the Hakone Free Pass from Odakyu Railways. You can choose either a two-day Pass for 5000 Yen or a three-day Pass for 5500 Yen. The Pass includes one round trip from Shinjuku to Odawara and then, inside the Hakone Free Area, you can use any of the Odakyu transport facilities unlimited number of times. Even if you want to do just a day-trip like me you have to get the two-day Pass.

Travelling around Hakone

The Hakone Free Pass lets you travel on five different modes of transport – Hakone Tozan Train, Hakone Tozan Cable Car, Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Sightseeing Cruise and the different Hakone buses. There are scenic places to see as you travel on most of these routes. The best ones for me were the ride on the Hakone Ropeway and the Sightseeing Cruise on the Pirate Ship. I did the standard travel around Hakone I think. I started at Hakone Yumoto and took the Tozan Railway to Gora, the Cable Car from Gora to Sounzan, the Ropeway from Sounzan to Togendai, the Sightseeing Boat from Togendai to Hakone-Machi, walked from Hakone-Machi to Moto-Hakone and finally took the bus back to Hakone Yumoto. I’ll write a little about some of the things I enjoyed most in the trip.

Hakone Open Air Museum

On our way from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora, I stopped at Chokokunomori where the Hakone Open Air Museum is located. The Entry Fee to the museum is 1600 Yen usually, but if you have the Hakone Free Pass you get a discount of 200 Yen. The museum is quite unique as it is an open air museum. This was the first time I was in an open air museum. Most of the sculptures were placed in the open with nature as the backdrop so the view was quite amazing. I really liked the below statue and three others that were close to it as they overlooked a valley.

Statue

Hakone Open Air Museum

As with many art galleries and museums there were a lot of paintings and sculptures of nude people – mostly women. I don’t think I’m a very artistic person. Many of the paintings and sculptures looked disproportional to me. Either the head was too big or the body was too big or something was just shaped funny. My friend said that I didn’t know how to appreciate art!

Art - Apparently

Hakone Open Air Museum

Face

Hakone Open Air Museum

Ropeway and Owakudani

From Sounzan I took the ropeway. The ropeway is a one-stop trip. On route to Lake Ashi, you have to stop at Owakudani and transfer to another ropeway. The views from the ropeway are amazing. The ropeway climbs up from Sounzan and just before reaching Owakudani it goes across a huge valley. I think this part of the ropeway is the most awesome one. After you transfer to the next ropeway at Owakudani it’s all downhill from there.

Stone

Volcanic Vapour at Owakudani

Owakudani is an interesting place. It is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs. They have a unique tradition of eating ‘black eggs’ here. Normal eggs are placed inside the hot springs which boils the eggs and also turns the outside shell black because of the sulphur in the springs. The inside of the egg still tastes the same so it’s safe to eat. The place has a pungent smell, again because of the sulphur. Owakudani also offers some great views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day.

Egg

Egg Boiled in the Volcanic Hot Springs at Owakudani

Volcanic Pond

A Hot Spring at Owakudani

Lake Ashi

The sightseeing cruise from Togendai to Hakone-Machi on Lake Ashi was really fun. The views of the lake and the surrounding areas, especially the mountains were brilliant. The cruise boat I took from Togendai which was included in the Hakone free pass was themed like a pirate ship. It was pretty cool.

Pirate Ship 1

Pirate Ship in Lake Ashi

Cedar Avenue and Hakone Shrine

From Hakone-Machi I walked to Moto-Hakone along the Cedar Avenue. It’s a nice and quiet walk with cedar trees lined on both sides. Once you reach Moto-Hakone if you walk a little further, you’ll find the Hakone Shrine. Like most Japanese shrines, there are torii gates at certain places on the road indicating that a shrine is present somewhere close. The shrine is on top of a small hill, as usual. As soon as you exit the shrine, if you cross the road, there is a torii in the lake and there is a small pathway along the lake from this torii. This path is also nice to walk on.

Way

Hakone

Once done, I took the bus back to Hakone Yumoto, and then took the train to Shinjuku. The train ride from Odawara to Shinjuku is about 90 minutes and at the end of the day it felt like a long ride. I think there are more things to do in Hakone and staying there for two days is definitely good. But going on a day trip is fun too, as you can see all the important places even if you do it at a leisurely pace.

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