For the second leg of of our Japan trip, we traveled an hour outside of Tokyo to Hakone, a resort town known for its onsen hot springs and views of nearby Mt. Fuji.
Unexpected and wonderful:
- Transportation: Upon arriving at the Hakone train station, visitors check luggage with a transportation service that shuttles guests’ bags to their hotels. No shlepping for us! This enabled us to freely ride the many modes of transportation that comprise the Hakone sightseeing loop including: train, cable car funicular, bus, ropeway, and pirate ship (around Ashi lake).
- Onsen Tamago: eggs that have been hard-boiled in the volcanic hot springs, yum!
- Open Air Museum: Our fault: we expected this amazing space to be boring. Nope! It had dynamic, interactive exhibits including a maze and climbing structures. We got weird in the best way.
Staying at a Traditional Ryokan near Mt. Fuji
The most memorable part of Hakone was our traditional Japanese guest house (ryokan), with serene onsen hot springs overlooking Mt. Fuji. Furnished with tatami woven mat floors and traditional futon beds, the traditional Japanese rooms each presented picture-perfect views of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest volcano. Ryokan guests wear traditional yukata robes (cotton kimonos) and enjoy a traditional kaiseki dinner, consisting of several, small, elaborately displayed dishes including:
Where to stay & eat: We loved the inexpensive Fujimien Ryokan. The ryokan reopened after some renovations in 2015. Availability seems limited. For a similar traditional ryokan and onsen experience, check out Yoshimatsu (traditional) or Centurion Hakone Bettei (luxury).
Visitor tip: Buy the Hakone “free-pass;” The pass includes the roundtrip train fare from Tokyo and unlimited access on all of the modes of transportation within Hakone. Very worthwhile.