Hello from Hakone! Most people travel to this area of Japan for the hot springs and views of Mount Fuji on a clear day. Lucky for us we got to experience both! Mount Fuji is an active volcano and Japan’s highest peak. Our tour guide Michiko informed us that Japan has a very high percentage of the world’s volcanoes for such a small country. She also told us that it’s rare to get a clear view of Mount Fuji due to weather conditions. In November you have about a 50/50 chance. So we did get lucky.
I was looking forward to having a hot springs experience while visiting Japan and so far all of our ryokans (Japanese-style inns) have had them. Most are communal baths where everyone bathes together. This has been an interesting experience as a westerner since bathing together is not common in our culture. In Hakone however, we had a private bath and you could reserve a spot and pay 500 yen (~$3.60) for 30 minutes on your own.
There is a whole process for entering these hot springs. First, you take off all your clothes (you have to go in naked). Then you rinse your body off in a shower room adjacent to the bath to remove dirt. Then you can enter the bath once you are clean.
Pampas grass field
The first thing we did in Hakone was visit the largest natural pampas grass field in Japan at sunset. This seemed to be a very popular spot for photos.
We started the next day bright and early with a cable car ride followed by a gondola ride up to an observation area to view Mount Fuji. The views were beautiful and it was such a clear day so we had a great view of the peak.
Hakone open-air museum
We ended our day with a stop at this outdoor museum.
What I ate in Hakone
I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard for me to find these to eat here being a vegetarian. Everything is seafood or meat-based. So I’m sticking with tofu and eggs as my protein sources while I’m here. When we have group dinners there is usually one vegetarian option on the menu so it’s limited for me while everyone else has many choices.
They say if you eat the eggs boiled from the heat of the volcano it will add 7 years to your life. Eating two would add 14 so Joe and I each had two! The shell is black from the sulfur, but the inside looked and tasted like a normal egg.
Up next: Takayama