Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rkidz's Japan Travel Blog - Day 12: Odawara, Hakone and near Mt. Fuji

Day 12.
Odawara castle and Hakone Hotspring.

I decided to go nearby Mount Fuji to take a good picture of it. To do so, I need to go to either Fuji Five Lake or Hakone. After a careful decision, I decided to go to Hakone instead, because it looks much cheaper (I realised that I am wrong later on). Before going to Hakone, I decided to stay at Odawara a bit and admire the beautiful Odawara castle. The castle keep is three stories on the outside and four stories on the inside. There is a fee of 500 yen to get inside the castle keep. The interior features exhibits on the history of the castle as well as displays of items such as armor and swords. It might look smaller than Osaka castle, and not as magnificent, but inside it feels much more spacious and the view on top is outstanding. It was a worthy stop before my next destination.

Afterward, I took a train to Hakone. Hakone has been one of Japan's most popular hot spring resorts for centuries. More than a dozen springs provide hot spring water to the many bath houses and ryokan in the Hakone region. I caught another train later on which is the Hakone Tozan Railway, Japan's oldest mountain railway. Trains run every 10 to 20 minutes between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora. The one way fare from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora is 400 yen. The small trains wind themselves through a narrow, scenic and densely wooded valley over many bridges and tunnels, stopping at small stations along the way and changing directions at three switchbacks; it was a treat to the eye. After reaching Gora, I rode a cable car to Soenzan, trying to go to Lake Ashi and ultimately enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji. When I'm about 750m above, I just realised its really cloudy, and feels like its gonna rain. I have to cancel my trip to Lake Ashi because I overspend on the entire trip and going now isn't worth it considering the weather. It was a shame really, but hey not all trip is smile and sunshine.

Later in the night, I went back to Hakone and have a nice relaxing onsen in a cheap, a little rundown but atmospheric ryokan called the Kappa Tengoku. For only 800 yen, it is a great choice for those who want to travel with tight budget. There are etique and rules that must be followed when you are inside the onsen. For example, you cannot bring in towel and wash yourself up before soaking inside the hot onsen water and people with tatoo must try their hardest to hide it. It feels strange to go naked in a public place, but luckily by the time I went there everyone already finished and I got the onsen all by myself. I ended up with a dizzy head for staying inside the hot water for too long.

Next up, a trip on the shinkansen all around the Japan Alps. A short one, but nevertheless a memorable one.

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