Stayed: Hakone Suimeisou
We wanted to stay in a traditional style accomodation for at least one night of our trip, and Hakone seemed like the perfect place to try it! This hotel was the most welcoming and friendly of all the places we stayed during our trip. And what an experience! I loved every moment- from the very spacious tatami rooms, to the onsen on our balcony with its incredible view, to the absolute feasts that were prepared for our traditional meals at breakfast and dinner, to trying futon (incredibly comfortable). Highly highly recommend staying at Hakone Suimeisou!
And we were off again! This time it was all the way back on to the Tobou Railway to Tokyo, then from Tokyo to Odawara then onto the Hakone Tozan Railway! Whew! We grabbed some tasty grilled salmon onigiri to eat on the way ❤ Once we arrived in Hakone we headed out to find our hotel, which was fairly easy to find with an interesting little stroll along a main strip of shops. Our hotel toured us all the features of our room and then asked us what time we would like dinner (6:30) and breakfast (8:00)!
Deciding to make the most of our limited time in Hakone we headed to the nearby bus station to purchase the Hakone Pass on jumped straight onto a bus. The bus wound its way through the mountains of Hakone and we saw all the other little areas where you can stay- all of them looked beautiful. Arriving at Lake Ashinoko we were able to grab tickets for one of the last trips on the pirate ship that day. We had a few minutes to spare and I spotted a little vendor selling roasted sweet potatoes in their jackets- yum yum yum!! We purchased some of their strawberries as well, and they were equally as delicious. And then all aboard me’hearties! It was off on our pirate ship adventure (it just looks like a pirate ship, its not costume themed or anything don’t worry)!
Hakone is absolutely stunningly beautiful. Standing on that ship looking out across the lake and over the mountains was breathtaking. The ship makes its way across the lake, only making 2 more stops, before returning to the main port of departure. The ship itself is comfortable with plenty of space and sitting room if you wanted to sit inside. We were more than happy to be standing outside enjoying the view after our day of travel!
Once we returned to the port it was very easy to pop back on a bus back to our hotel. And then, it was time for our traditional banquet dinner!
We were allocated our own dining room- number 6. It was all set up when we arrived and it all looked (and tasted!) delicious. Lots of new and interesting things to try. After we finished we left our dining room to head back to our main room, which was converted to a bedroom whilst we ate. But soon after there was a knock on our door because we had left before they served dessert! Whoops! They brought it in for us so we were able to eat it in our room 🙂
In the evening we popped on supplied yukatas and enjoyed our private onsen on our balcony. If we stayed longer I would have liked to try their main onsen, but I did like having our own- especially with its view!
We both slept wonderfully on our futons.
We awoke and prepared for the day before receiving a summoning knock on our door calling us to breakfast. Again we entered our dining room which was laid out with another wonderful feast. I am such a big fan of Japanese breakfast- I wish I could have it every day!
After breakfast we headed aboard the Hakone Tozan Railway again (the upper section this time!), which supplied for some more wonderful scenery (even though we were a bit too early in the year to see the famous hydrangeas along the tracks). We then swapped train for cable car, and then cable car for ropeway! It was whilst we were on the ropeway that we got our first glimpses of Mr Elusive himself- Mt Fuji! A sight indeed! But the whole journey had some fascinating sights, including the sulfuric hot springs. Unfortunately the second half of the ropeway was down for maintenance during our visit so we had to get off at Owakudani for a bus. We did get to see more Mt Fuji! But we did have a wait in a bus line… the main issue was that there was a gap in the bus arrivals- once they all started coming we got on a bus fast but we weren’t used to waiting having become accustomed to Japan’s tightly scheduled everything! I did sneak in a mixed half vanilla half chocolate soft serve to compensate though 😉 I thought that might be tastier than the sulfuric eggs!
The bus dropped us down at Togendai Station- the opposite end of Lake Ashinoko that we were at the day before. Then we had some tough decisions to make. We wanted to try to get to the Komagatake Ropeway, but it is a bit harder to get to and we were on a bit of a strict timeline to get us back to Hakone in time for our evening Shinkansen to Kyoto. We decided you only live once and to just go for it! It was a bit stressful but we ended up getting a taxi to Komagatake, running to get a ropeway ticket and going straight up.
The view though! It was well worth all the stress- such a spectacular view of the lake, and Mt Fuji and all the surrounds.
It was easily the best view of our Japan trip. Even if we only had a very short while to enjoy it (oh and it was super windy up there! a friend who also went to Komagatake said it was almost impossible to walk when he was there because it was so windy!). Then we raced to get on the Ropeway back down and quickly figured out what would get us back to the main port of Lake Ashinoko quickest. We ended up on a more direct cruise ship (faster than the Pirate Ships) and then once we made it to the port we ran around trying to find the express bus back to Hakone… which we made and then relaxed for about 20mins (until we hit traffic!!) but all was fine and we eventually made it back to Hakone with plenty of time. We decided to grab a quick lunch of soba/ramen at one of the local restaurants before picking our luggage up from our hotel and heading to the train station back to Odawara. At Odawara we jumped on to our Shinkansen to Kyoto and I felt like I breathed a huge sigh of relief! We made it! What a day!
But it wasn’t over yet! After arriving in Kyoto we navigated their train lines onto the metro lines to Shijo Station and checked in to our hotel. Then we headed to the nearby main district to track down some dinner and we found the BEST tonkatsu place- more cabbage more rice! (also had the most delicious yuzu drink which was apparently unique to that part of Kyoto so I never found it again !__!) Before finally heading back to the hotel for some much needed rest!