Japan: Day 22 — Hakone ...

One of the pathways around Lake Ashi (eastern side)
My last journal entry for Japan was on Day 21, so these words are coming from memory two months later! I was tiring from three weeks of non-stop activity but there was more to see in Hakone. Zoe had moved on and I was alone.

I used my Hakone Free Pass and took the cable car up the mountain to the Hakone Ropeway. One must get off at the Owakudani Volcano so I stopped for another quick visit. It's a spectacular sight and it didn't hurt my feelings to be there again.

After a quick look, I made my way to the second ropeway that heads to Lake Ashi. I walked more than halfway around the eastern side of the lake. There weren't too many views along the way and I ran into very few people, mostly locals walking their dogs.

I was making my way over to the Komagatake Ropeway. (¥1300) This ropeway is not included in the Hakone Free Pass but pass holders are offered a discount.
The Komagatake Ropeway car with Lake Ashi in the background
The day was cloudy and I knew there wasn't going to be a view of Mt. Fuji (there is on clear days) but who doesn't love a good cable car ride (7 minutes) taking you up to 1,300m above sea level?! The view of the lake below was stunning! Once at the top, there are trails to follow and a small shrine. The clouds were rushing by making it eerie at times.
The Tamadareno Falls
I stayed at the top for some time before taking the ropeway down. I found a bus to the Hakone Ropeway. I went back via the volcano and the Hakone cable car. I then took the train to another waterfall that was on the tourist map. The place was called the Tamadareno Falls. They, unfortunately, were not too exciting.

The falls were behind a touristy hotel. The place was a zoo. There were ducks everywhere along with people. Loud music was playing and there were people dressed up in stuffed animals costumes. They were parading around and dancing. I was hoping to be in a quiet forest.

I was too exhausted for all the commotion and took off quite quickly back to my hostel and went straight to the onsen. The water was almost too hot to get in. The water in the onsens came directly from the Owakudani volcano and the temperature couldn't be controled. There was a sign saying that the water temperatures depend on the 'mood' of the volcano! I thought that was quite cute. You are able to add cold water into the pool but even then it was too hot! I was only able to get in for a few short minutes and hoped the volcano's mood would be a bit cooler for the following day!

Japan: Day 21 — Hakone ...

Cedar Avenue in Hakone
I was up early and treated myself to a coffee and an onsen. Zoe and I were heading out together to explore Hakone. I purchased a Hakone Freepass that was valid for three days and cost ¥4,500. This free pass would allow me to use most of the transport in the area for free. I could also get into the attractions for free or for a discounted price. The free pass saves tourists a ton of money and is highly recommended!

Zoe and I were on the first cable car up the mountain at 7:41am. There were very few others with us and we didn’t figure out why until we got to the top. The Hakone Ropeway doesn't start running until 9am. The people at the guesthouse neglected to offer this information. No problem. We opted to take the bus. It came at 8:24am but the driver wouldn’t let us on as the Owakudani Volcano doesn’t open until 9am. The driver told usto wait for the 9am bus. Why on earth is there a 7:41am cable car?!?!

Dropping into the Owakudani volcano on the Ropeway
I felt bad for getting Zoe up so early but we had a lot to talk about and knew this was just the way things went when traveling. In the end, we decided to take the ropeway since we had to wait until 9am for the bus. We figured the ropeway would be more fun and more interesting.

We were in the first car for the eight-minute ride up to the volcano. It was fun being on a ropeway but the best part was going up over a mountain peak and then down into the Owakudani volcano. The entire car ‘ooh’ed and ‘aah’ed. It was a spectacular sight! The volcano immediately reminded me of my time at the Ijen Crater in Indonesia. Owakudani was spewing out smoke and it was very clear why the trails in the area were closed.

Our first stop was at a small food trailer near the volcano that was offering fried food. I ordered the fried potato and bacon balls. The dish had three balls on a stick with small pieces of bacon in between the balls. There was also a massive slab of butter on the side of the plate. At ¥380, they were tasty enough and hit the spot!

We enjoyed the views of the volcano but there wasn’t much else to do in the area. We had a look around the gift shop and then made our way to the next and final stop along the Hakone Ropeway, Lake Ashinoko. The ropeway offered gorgeous views on the way down! We made our way over to the waiting area for the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. It is a pirate ship with pirates on board! The ride over was comical with the performers playing around with the passengers.

The lake is stunning though there was no view of Mt. Fuji because of the cloud cover. On the other side of the lake, there is a cedar forest. The pathway is beside the road but it is easy to forget that while wandering along the path. The trees were so tall and gorgeous! It took about a half an hour to complete the trail. It popped us out near some restaurants and we decided to stop for lunch. I had Udon noodles and tempura for lunch. Lunch was ¥1,200 but only OK.

The Torii Gate near the Hakone Shrine
After a small lunch, we made our way over to the Hakone Shrine. We were both very interested to see the torii gate near the lake. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji from this spot which must be stunning. We had no view but it was pretty. The area was busy and we had to be patient to get a shot without any people or paddle boats in the image.

The Chisuji Falls
After the shrine, we caught a bus to a waterfall that was a short hike off the main road. There were very no signs so we followed GPS and were a little unsure that we were going the right way. We finally found a sign that led us into a beautiful lush forest. The Chisuji Falls were longer than they were high. We had the place to ourselves which was wonderful. I guess we were a bit off the beaten tourist path of Hakone!

Our guesthouse was only 30 minutes away so we decided to walk. We found a 7-11 and stopped in to pick up dinner for the evening, breakfast and snacks. The 7-11s in Japan have anything and everything one could possibly want! I picked up a ton of food! Upon arrival at the guesthouse, it was straight into the onsen! Lovely!

Zoe and I went downstairs for dinner at 6pm. She set upstairs early to sleep while I stayed downstairs to enjoy two beers while making a plan for the following day. The weather wasn't exactly cooperating! I had trouble keeping my eyes open after 9pm and finally gave in to sleep.