19 May 2014

Hakone had been mentioned by one of my colleague’s back in the United States when I was planning this expedition. They had mentioned the multitudes of transit forms taken, the lucky black eggs, and fabulous views. Plus, upon my own research, I found that there was a campground halfway, that also contained showers.

Portside view of Yokohama

Waking up on our balcony, with Ferry boats commuting back and forth and the sun radiating off of the Yokohama skyline, was a wondrous way to start our fourth day in Japan. Now this is urban camping. The night before we had stopped at a local grocery store, no larger than 10 ft by 15 ft, and bought carrots, bread, noodles, cabbage, and a couple other items for our breakfast. Making our ramen early in the morning, sitting in our hammocks, and relaxing was perfect. Man, on man! did those veggies taste amazing; I don’t know what they do or don’t do, but the flavor that accompanied the vegetables and eggs we bought was superb. Val and I (Ash) sat there watching the water boil and munched on cabbage leaves because they tasted so good. After a gobbling down of out breakfast and a quick rinse/brushing of teeth in the bathroom, we were off to Hakone!

Hakone Expedition

Traveling to Hakone, just south of Tokyo by about a 1 to 1.5 hour train ride we encountered the famous rush-hour on the train. Watching females run in high-heels and people squish onto their respective trains seemed like it should be a sport. Luckily we were off in the opposite direction from Tokyo, this Monday morning, so we didn’t have to jockey for seats or breathing room. Arriving in Odawara train station, you can purchase a 2-day pass for 4,000 yen which allows passage on train, rope-way, boat, and bus. The main highlight of the Hakone trip is lucky black eggs and a great view of Mt. Fuji.

Traveling via train on switch-backs, then cable car to reach the Hakone Open Air Museum was a lot of fun. The museum was on our list due to variation of work, more statues, and interactive pieces, compared to the traditional paintings on the wall. We climbed down stairs, walked through a flowered maze, ducked through a tubing structure, and much more. They even had a free foot bath; you could pay 300 yen for a foot towel. Plus they had a koi pond, that you were able to pay 100 yen (about 1 USD) for some fish food to take amazing photos of the creatures, which we of course did.

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On we went to the ropeway, views of Mt Fuji, and lucky black eggs. At the top of the rope-way you can get off and hike up the mountain to where the Hakone lucky black eggs originate. The mountain has a sulfur hot-spring where workers dip normal eggs into the water, boiling them, and when pulled out, the eggs are black. Sadly by the time we reached the end of the 15 minute hike, no one was boiling any eggs, and due to the high concentration of sulfur in the air they don’t recommend you sticking around for too long. So we headed back down to the transit center to check out the gift shop (which sells the boiled eggs for 500 yen; we didn’t buy any), take some photos with Hello Kitty, and catch a ride down to Lake Ashi and our campground. The stop wasn’t a complete waste because you can get some delicious ice cream; we purchased a black egg and a vanilla bean. They were scrumptious.

Arriving in the Hakone “Fun Space” campground, nestled up against Lake Ashi in Tagendai-ko, we realized that we were a little early for the normal camping season. Due to this slight mis-fortune we didn’t have any showers to rinse off in. We did have some very nice neighbors that gifted us some lucky black eggs. The campground was very nice, it had cabins that you could rent, sectioned out lots for camping, and a great kitchen with sinks.

We needed a bath and to figure out the Nube hammock system. More people are trying to practice their English by saying “Hello” and waiting for our reply. Still haven’t seen a gas station 🙁 Still haven’t seen a lawn mower, which is funny with all of their parks. We are not too sure how they keep the plants, grass, and weeds in check. We are eating our way to a lighter pack by eating all the snacks we brought for the start of the trip, which has made Tokyo and surrounding areas a lot cheaper.

Didn’t see Day 3’s post? See it here | Continue the exploration: Day 5: Katahara Onsen | Other Japan Adventures: here