This post contains the journal of my Japan trip on day 4, 29 March: Hakone.
You can read about the previous day of my trip (around Tokyo) here.
With our drowsiness as our makeup, we went to Shinjuku station at 7 o’clock in the morning. I was really excited about this day because we’re going to see the Fuji mountain (if possible) and dipped into the hot spring for the first time. The plan was supposed to go against the usual recommended Hakone route: hot springs – Hakone Shrine – Lake Ashi Cruise – Hakone Ropeway – Owakudani – back to Tokyo. We bought the JPY 5140 Hakone 2-days pass (US$ 46.40) that was supposed to cover almost every means of transportation we needed while in the town. It was supposed to be really fun, right?
Turned out that it was the worst day of my trip.
First of all we arrived super late in Hakone, roughly at 10:30 am. Anyway, The train from Odawara to Hakone Yumoto somehow got stuck for some reason. After we arrived at Hakone Yumoto, we didn’t think of finding the bus station first to get to the hot spring area. Instead, we wandered around and bought some snacks. After we asked around, we found out that 1) the ropeway that was supposed to bring us to Owakudani was closed and 2) the latest ropeway schedule was at 16:00. We wasted an hour and it was already 11:40 when we finally know which buses we should’ve taken. Seriously, the public transportation was super confusing! If we were to follow the original schedule, there’s no way we could go up to Owakudani from Lake Ashi. It was finally decided that we’ll flip the schedule over and went to Owakudani first instead via Gora.
Gora was super crowded and everything was late again. On our way to the bus station with a weird sloppy train, the forest surrounding us were really dry. At that time of the year, it was supposed to have many bloomed wild flowers. Damn it, global warming! You ruined everything! After we arrived at the bus station at 13:10, I only managed to buy myself an ice cream bar for lunch because there were just no time. I noticed that some people put on winter clothes while I only wore a sweater and a regular coat. Then I noticed the sheer amount of snow outside. Then I searched the Owakudani location in instagram, and there were snows everywhere. We could only laughed at our stupidity and prepared ourselves for some coldness. I bought an ice cream bar while queueing as my lunch.
We had to wait an hour or so for the bus because of the closed ropeway. The traffic was crazy and it was already afternoon (15:00) when we arrived at Owakudani! 3 PM! My mood was really ruined. Thankfully everything was not that cold. The queue for the famous black egg was quite long and we decided to not buy it, although we were really hungry.
At 15:30 we were getting ready for taking the ropeway down the mountain to Lake Ashi, when I discovered that my Hakone Pass was missing. When you thought the day couldn’t get any worse. I literally cried and started counting how much I had to spent to get back to Tokyo. It was for another JPY 5500 (US$ 49.65) because all public transportation in Hakone were sadistically priced at JPY 1000 (US$ 9.00) each, and we still have ropeway, cruise, buses, and trains. I cried again inside the cable car. As if the universe was not done fucking with me, the Fuji Mountain was not visible at all because of the clouds. I faced left and the day was as clear as the sky. I faced right and there were clouds everywhere, although they were all far, far away. My luck. Why.
We managed to get into the second last cruise for the day. My mood was finally getting better as we enjoyed the landscape within the Lake Ashi. Although the cold wind was unforgiving, I savoured the view as long as I could. Of course I should!! I paid an extra JPY 5500 (US$ 49.65) for the trip!!
When we arrived at Motohakone-ko, we immediately asked around for the bus availability for the evening. And thankfully, they still ran the bus to Hakone Yumoto until 8 pm.
Hastily we went to Hakone Shrine before sunset, the very photo spot I was dreading to go to Hakone for. My mood has finally been lifted up. Why wouldn’t it? Just look at this.
Too bad we didn’t had time to wander around the Hakone Shrine because it was already dark.
The weather was really unforgiving for our dress code. At 18:00 the temperature suddenly dropped to about 1-2 degrees celsius as we queued for the next bus. Everybody was freezing. No one expected that amount of coldness. Even the Caucasian couple from UK behind us were freezing. After a while we decided to chat with the couple. Turned out our general itinerary was quite the same: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and lastly go back to Tokyo. They displayed a crestfallen face too when we talked about the late sakura schedule. Everybody was similarly disappointed. Sigh!
The bus finally showed itself at 7:15. We were already really tired and decided to skip the hot spring and went back to Tokyo. On our way from Shinjuku to Asakusa, we had to transfer at Kanda station. We just realised that we haven’t eaten since lunch, so we entered a random yet crowded restaurant at 22:30. There were many salarymen that were drinking and chatting cheerfully with each other. We ordered baked curry rice, chicken karaage, potato salad, and a lot of yakitori (grilled skewers) that we didn’t take pictures of. The food tasted really great, partly because we were too hungry to begin with.
We were finally back in Asakusa at 11:30 and still had to pack our lugagge. Originally, we were planning to spent the night in Hakone, but the hotels were all super pricey. The problem is, we only booked the apartment in Asakusa only for 4 nights, and it was already occupied for the next night. I made a mistake of thinking that our first stay was in Minowa, so I booked our next stay in the said place. Oh, well…
Disclaimer: All of the photos above were taken by my friend and me using Nikon D5500 and iPhone 5s. I reduced the quality of the pictures and videos to save my WordPress storage.