October 9, 2015

Snowy Hakone

Mount Fuji to Japan is like Eiffel Tower to Paris.

But in all my trips to Japan previously, I never had the chance to see it. *cries blood*

I saw it for the first time during my trip to Gotemba Premium Outlets. But it wasn't so clear, and so brief cos it kept playing hide and seek with the clouds. Thus I planned a trip to Hakone, known as the best place to view the majestic mountain. I've always wanted to go sightseeing in Hakone anyway, ever since I laid my eyes on this gorgeous picture.


The mountain. The lake. The lakefront Torii gate. So beautiful Masya Allah! 

But turned out, my luck with Fuji-san was not so good. 

Apparently, Hakone snowed heavily days before my arrival.

My heart dropped to the floor when the staff at Hakone-Yumoto Station told me that the Hakone Ropeway and the bus services were not operating because of the snow. Noooo!! T_____T

FYI, the most convenient and economical way to explore Hakone is by using the Hakone Freepass. It allows you to ride 8 different types of transport in the area, such as the Hakone Tozan Train, Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Tozan Cable Car, Hakone Sightseeing Cruise and some bus services.

Since the Ropeway and the bus wasn't operating, my plan to visit Hakone Shrine and watching Mount Fuji were ruined. But Hakone still has a lot to offer so the staff suggested that I bought Hakone pass for Tozan Train and Tozan Cable Car only.

Note: Hakone Ropeway is currently not operating due to increased seismic activity in Owakudani that could lead to a minor volcanic eruption.

There's a Tourist Information Center just across Hakone-Yumoto Station so I went to the center to get a map of the area and get advice on places to visit.

Yumoto town

Saw a group of people having barbeque outside a shop so I went to menyibuk..



Ohh the shop was promoting their sakana. So I joined the fun.



Free lunch haha..

Since Hakone is famous for onsen or hot springs, let's go to one! Luckily, Yumoto is Hakone's most famous hot spring area and there are a lot of public bath houses and traditional ryokans just within walking distance from the train station.

Me being kiasu as usual, I wanted the best experience. I was going to pop my onsen cherry anyway. It must be worth it! hahaha..

So I went to Tenzan.

Operating hours : 9 am ~ 11 pm
Admission : 1300 yen

Not gonna elaborate my experience baring my all with the other girls. :p You just have to try it once! haha..

Some other attractions in Yumoto.. 


Tamadare no Taki


Hien no Taki



 Tamadare Shrine

These attractions are actually located in the compound of Tenseien Onsen. But you can go in and walk around the garden.

Then I took the Tozan Train heading to Gora.


This train experience is special cos it takes passengers zigzagging through Hakone's steep hills. It departs from Hakone-Yumoto station (at 108 m above sea level) and takes about 40 minutes to arrive at the final stop, Gora station (at 553 m above sea level). Halfway up the line there are switchbacks, where the driver and the conductor change shifts and the train switch to reversed travel direction.

Though I only saw snows during my ride, the ride was still enjoyable.



See how thick the snow was.

Stopped at Chokoku No Mori Station to visit the Hakone Open Air Museum. It's an open air art museum, exhibiting various sculptures on its spacious grounds.


Air pon beku! 




All covered with snow...

Besides the sculptures, the museum also features various indoor galleries, including some Picasso Collection.



Hakone Open Air Museum is open daily from 9 am ~ 5 pm
Entrance fee is 1600 yen



Then finally I went for the cable car. The cable car links Gora Station to Sounzan Station, running effortlessly up another steep slope, and from there you can get on the Ropeway to Togendai-ko for the sightseeing cruise. Since the Ropeway was closed, I rode it just for the experience, going up the hill and down again.

My initial plan was to spend the night in Hakone but seeing the snow conditions, I returned to Tokyo. Definitely will revisit it in the future.

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