Natalie is the winner of our Wagamama competition last year. The first prize was our “Essential Japan” package for two adults. Natalie travelled for 9 days in Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. This blog post follows the part 2, where Natalie was traveling from Tokyo to Hakone.
We arrived at the hotel in Hakone a little too early to check in, but we were encouraged to go off sightseeing and return later in the evening. We had a 3-day Hakone Free Pass and it enabled us to explore the city by bus, tram, cable car and boat. We decided to head straight for the cable cars in the hopes of seeing the elusive Mt. Fuji.
Sadly, “Fuji-san” was shy both days we were in Hakone, but this only encourages us to visit again! The particular weekend that we were in Hakone was quite busy and crowded, but in a weirdly serene way. The trains were crowded, but not loud – people are very conscious of other people’s comfort on public transport. Hakone is a weekend-getaway destination for many Japanese families. When we returned to our hotel we were then able to check in to our traditional style Ryokan room. Yes, we had paper sliding doors and tatami mats, but we also had a telephone and television!
It was the faultless mix of modern and traditional. A highlight of the room was the private onsen, or natural spring water bath. This was the perfect remedy for easing into pure relaxation mode. We were encouraged to wear our traditional Japanese robes to dinner in the on-site restaurant, which we did. Our dinner on both evenings was incredible. We had requested special meals and we were accommodated with grace and respect. I enjoyed an incredibly relaxing stay in this hotel. We were made to feel incredibly welcome and relaxed. When it came to time to sleep, we unfolded out our futon mattresses and slept soundly and serenely.
On the second day, we took to the cable cars again for some amazing views of the region. We also boarded the boat and sailed across Lake Ashi. There were some notable attractions on Hakone, including the Venetian Glass Museum and the Hakone Open Air Museum.
The concierge at the front desk had some good advice for us upon checkout on our last morning on how to get to Hakone train station to take the bullet train.
It is worth noting that we had wonderful Japanese breakfast at this hotel, and we were offered a Western breakfast too. However, the traditional breakfast was more appealing to us, and well worth a try.
- -Superb dinner served in the hotel restaurant on Saturday night
- -Browsing the shops on the main street in the town – stocked every type of sweet treat you can imagine!
- -Walking around Owakudani – site of the sulphur springs.
In the part 4 of this blog, Natalie will keep exploring Japan and will discover the city of Kyoto.