Taking a break from busy Tokyo life costs a fortune. However, Hakone has always been a popular vacation spot for such busy people, as well as it has been a popular onsen/hot spring spot for family and elderly people. Taking Odakyu-line from Shinjuku, you can get to Hakone by not switching to any other trains.
A week passed my birthday, I took a weekend vacation to Hakone with my best friend. To be exact, I stayed at a traditional Japanese style hotel in Goura (Hakone is a broad area and Goura is one of the places in Hakone). The weather was perfect. I took a train to Hakoneyumoto by Odakyu-line and met a friend there. Driving up the hills of Hakone is rather tough for beginner drivers. The roads are steep and have many rough curves. It is well known for the steep hills that challenges many runners for Hakone-Ekiden; traditional college marathon festivals held every year. Below is a picture of Goura station.
Being in such rich green environment, I totally forgot the busy life that I always have. It made me want to come to Hakone every month to reset. I also have to admit that I was little jealous that my best friend works in Hakone where life is slow and the air is so fresh ( Not to mention the weekends traffic is usually really bad !!.)
Although I had always been not a strong onsen-lover, my best friend and I were in the onsen for over an hour. As the ryokan/Japanese style hotel only has 12 rooms, we had a huge bathroom for ourselves. I used to be really shy going to public naked, but only with my best friend, it was nothing. I even swam! I mean I think the real luxury going to Onsen is to swim in the huge bath tab as much as I want ^^
Right; that’s enough: it’s too hot here in Tokyo now.
I’m going to drive out of town this weekend. Any recommendations?
I would like to go somewhere a bit cooler, maybe an area in the countryside with nice walks, forest, waterfalls and so on.
I was looking at Karuizawa:
Strolling in the forest among trees and birds, perhaps in this morning, a new fairly tail is about to be made.
Huh??!…. Anyway would you recommend Karuizawa at this time of year?
The BBC is looking for British expats to tell their story and send in their photos of life abroad.
It is part of an initative of the Institute of Public Policy Research, which seeks to “map the scale and nature of British emigration”. Apparently, Japan isn’t among the most desired locations….
To take part, visit the BBC website or submit your photos to their Flickr Group.
Last Sunday we went for a drive outside Tokyo, to Zushi and Hayama in Kanegawa-ken. I was surprised to find such beautiful scenery just an hour from the city. We went to Zushi Marina, which doesn’t look like Japan at all (see above) and to Hayama, where a previous residence of the Japanese Royal Family is located.
I would recommend a visit to the Hotel OtowaNoMori, Hayama to sip a glass of Champagne and watch the sun set over the ocean:
For more photos, click here.
photo copyright by bootykika. some rights reserved
Metroblogs Orange Country is looking for reader feedback (just like we are here at Metblogs Tokyo). So you might want to head over there and post a comment about what you’d like to read at their site. More posts about places to visit? Special events? Cool cafes and bars? Tips about places to stay?
Metroblogs Orange Country (カリフォルニア州の南)は読者のコメント求めっています。何か読みたいものがありますか？ 観光
Random Chuo Line Links.
East Japan Railway Stations: This site has a bunch of well organized information for the Chuo line. The author supplies a sound clip of each station name being announced, distance from Tokyo, date of opening, location, departing melodies, and transfer links. Nice site.
JR Chuo Line: This is an about.com page. Links for other train lines and sight-seeing guides for Japan are lurking off to the left.
JR Fact Sheets: Want to impress your S.O. or boss with JR facts? This is the page for you. I am too lazy to list the TOC. All fact sheets are PDF.
JR East Railway Lines in Greater Tokyo.: In English for all you Kanji knuckle heads. Wait, that sorta includes me.
Guide Maps for Major Stations: Five stations get special treatment Tokyo, Shinjuku, Yokohama, Narita Airport Station, and Airport Terminal 2 Station.
Okay, that is about it. Enjoy.
Perhaps one of the most exciting, yet least attempted things to do while visiting Japan is climbing Mt. Fuji. It is quite close to Tokyo and only takes about an hour and a half to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji by bus from Shinjuku Station.
I attempted the climb and succeded in the summer of 2003, and it is something I will never forget. We started the climb at 10pm and made it to the summit in six and a half hours but had gotten there too early and were exposed to the freezing winds at the top which we were totally unprepared for. I also caught the chills and couldn’t stop from shaking violently until we were half way down the mountain. Unfortunately, we were only able to catch about a minute of the sunrise before it clouded over for the rest of the morning (picture is not mine but of my cousin).
At the summit there are three areas of interest: the temple, the crater, and the vending machines. The vending machines sell hot coffee but the cost is a dollar fifty to four dollars for a very small can. The reason for this is that it must be transported on foot since no vehicles can reach the top. There is also a small restaurant which sells expensive, mediocre ramen but is really good for warming up.
Suprisingly, many of the climbers are older Japanese folk who see the climb as a religious experience since Fuji-San has played a deeply symbolic part in Japanese history. These seniors are pretty in shape but still must book one of the small hostels about midway up for a nap and then continue the rest of the way. There are also some young hung over tourists who make it about an hour into the climb before they give up and start heading back down.
In total, our trip took 6 and a half hours up and just over four back down. If your thinking about climbing the mountain, make sure to take plenty of cash, warm clothing (even if it’s hot down below, it will be freezing on top) a headlamp and a ton of stamina. Also, be sure to not leave any trash on the mountain to keep it beautiful.
For those of you who don’t live in Japan, this week is Golden Week. A week speckled with holidays where most people leave on vacation for the whole week. Usually the city is deserted, but lately more people work. Anyway, I decided to drive into the office today from my home in Chiba. The drive can range from 30 min to 2.5 hours depending on traffic. I usually rely on my car navigation system to navigate the fastest path. Before I left, the traffic web site told me that there was nearly no traffic. I was surprised when the navigation system kept trying to steer my away from the expressway. It was SO insistent that it kept trying to make me take every possible exit off of the freeway. For all practical purposes, it was insane. Except for a bit of traffic getting onto the expressway, I had almost no traffic.
On the way home it did the same thing. Tried to make me drive all the way without getting on the expressway.
The inner-conspiracy-theorist wants to say that the police were controlling my navigation system to stay away from expressways to try to prevent some kind of weird traffic that might occur because of a large number of people deciding to travel… or it was some kind of strange test to conduct when most businesses were shut down. Anyway, it was totally annoying and I was lucky I was driving a familiar route. Did anyone else notice this today?