Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hakone, 箱根

You think you know Japan, at least the basics of it and then it just surprises you yet again!

I think it's the concept of the LOCAL train that makes things easier to access, discover and learn.

Today, we made a random choice to head from our little beach resort, with NO idea of what we should do, but a simply lust after some greenery. Well, in Japan, make a wish and it might just come true.

We passed through Odawara on the Tokkaido line with a vague plan of going to Yokohama, although we didnt' really want to, nor did we want to stay in Atami, so where should we go! With NO INTERNET (shock, horror!) to access and guide us, we were left to the formerly popular methods of following our hearts!

Odawara is a transfer station to the Hakone express amongst others and we changed here to have a quick peek at what there was. Apparently there was a 'red train' and that kind of went up a mountain. One of the stops had the kanji for 'forest', so we decided it was a winner.

Aboard the 'red train', there was the nicest man, who made some conversation with us in PERFECT English and even gave us some pamphlets.
Basically, Hakone is NOT just hot springs (done), Mount Fuji (done) and rollercoasters (done and done again). There is more to the area than the lakes (done), and vague sightseeing (about to be done..). Hakone is a town in the Izu-Hakone-Fuji national park. 
We were about to see a whole lot more!

We took the red train from Odawara to Hakone - Yumoto and then took the Tozan railway. It's apparently the oldest mountain railway in Japan and is not short of a few train geeks (including me!) at some stations taking pictures!

We rode until the end station, Gora. 

From there, you can take a cable car across that will lead to the lake Ashi and some of the museums in the area.


rather funny - watch out for these creatures! boars, I think!

Something for the meat lovers too!!!

We walked uphill towards the park and craft house. It was too hot to think about wandering inside the park - all the flowers look the same with squinted eyes, I think!  

The magazine on the train back even had a review of the little French cafe!

Randomly, we found a beautiful looking French cafe, next to the photography museum (it's marked on the map, so if you find the museum, you know you can eat well! It's probably the cake menu for which they are most famous for, yet, we stuck to the savoury options, craving a quiche, a taste from almost-home! It was delightful and I cannot wait to return one day! The cafe is run by a couple - the husband is a well-known Hakone photographer and his work is on sale there too. He has had an exhibition in France for ten years now.


Quiche craving - fully satisfied!

Back down the hill, we walked towards the next station down. This is in fact where the open air museum is. There is a lot of picasso's works here, but I cannot report on this as again, it was tooooo hot (blistering) by this point to wander about any more in the sun! Promising to return in the Autumn as there are many, many BEAUTIFUL onsen ryokans that we want to stay at!!

I realised today that I haven't even touched the sides when it comes to sightseeing in Hakone!! SOOOOooooo much to see and do there!! 
The romance car back! Faster and better than a local train!
Yums for the journey  Hakone Inari!

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