In January of this year I visited Japan for the first time, and we had bought the Japan Rail 2 week unlimited pass, and managed to travel from Tokyo down to Kyushu, and so many places in between. This summer I returned to Japan for a short visit to Tokyo, but once there I quickly lost interest in the city and wanted to hop on a train to see the Japanese countryside I so love. I did some quick research on day trips from Tokyo (this time we didn't have the unlimited rail pass). Hakone came up as popular day trip from Tokyo with a lot to do and see including museums, hot springs, and glorious views of Mt Fuji. In the area were a couple of places I especially wanted to visit including the Yunessun Spa, which is famous for its kitschy themed hot tubs, and the Ōwakudani valley where you can eat volcano-cooked hard boiled black eggs. For just 5140 yen per person we bought the Hakone Freepass which includes round trip train fare from Tokyo's Shinjuku station, and 2 days of unlimited trips on the local trains, buses, boats and trams within the Hakone area.
The town of Odawara where we transferred from the bullet train to the Hakone Tozan train, a tiny train that climbs up the mountain through dense greenery and hydrangea flowers. On the train we made friends with some older gentlemen who were impressed to see Jason shooting with a Ricoh GR camera, one of the men told us that he had worked for Ricoh.
HAKONE OPEN AIR MUSEUM
I came across the Hakone Open Air Museum on the map of the area's attractions, and we decided to hop off the train to check it out. I was very impressed with the museum's sculpture garden, extensive Picasso collection, and the various interactive sculptures that we spent hours climbing around on.
This Spa was definitely the highlight of our entire trip to Japan. I am a serious hot spring and hot tub enthusiast, and this spa was like the Japanese Disneyland of soaking.
Visited July 2016
Photos by Renee Lusano and Jason MacDonald