We had a great weekend away, staying in the Hakone-Yumoto Hotel which is a Ryokan - a Japanese style hotel where you sleep on a mattress on a tatami mat - in the town of Hakone-Yumoto which is in the southwestern part of Kanagawa, part of Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and renowned for the many hot springs In the area. Surrounded by trees perched precariously on the remnants of ancient volcanoes the hotel had much to offer; delicious Japanese food and the chance to enjoy their own hot springs.
Knowing that we were going somewhere where there were hot springs we'd taken our cosies. We soon discovered that that was a silly move as you're only allowed in the hot springs in the all-together with separate bathing areas for male and female. It was all a new experience for me but I loved it, so much so that, although we only had one night there (during which time we did lots of sightseeing), I managed to fit in three separate visits to the hot springs. There were three different hot pools - warm (Which was outside), quiet warm and fairly hot - and you walked into the area containing
the springs with nothing on, leaving your clothes in another room. Then you sat on little stools and thoroughly washed yourself with the liquid soap provided, rinsing it all off before you stepped in the hot pools. I suppose it must be the minerals in the water because it certainly does you the world of good; I had a sore neck before I went in and now it's gone! There were some lovely young Japanese girls in there who reminded me of what I looked like...once upon a time, many years ago! Meeting them in the dining room later with their clothes on it was like saying hello to an old friend! It really was a wonderful experience which I thoroughly enjoyed; indeed I'd probably be in the hot springs now if we were still there!
The robes which were provided for wearing on your way to and from the hot springs were also worn by many of the guests at mealtimes. We didn't know the score when we went down to dinner but by breakfast the next morning we'd got the message!
Apart from all the relaxation there were many natural delights to take us away from
the Ryokan. On Saturday we caught a bus along a very windy narrow road to Hakone Machi-Ko on the shores of Lake Ashi where we took a sightseeing cruise across the late to Togendai-Ko. Lake Ashi is a crater lake 19km in circumference and was formed in prehistoric times following a violent eruption of the volcano of Mt Hakone. Mt Fuji can be viewed from there which was as far 'up close and personal' we got to this awe inspiring sight. We then boarded the Hakone Ropeway followed by the Hakone Tozan Cablecar to Gora from where we boarded the Hakane Tozan train back to Hakone- Yumoto, repeating the whole thing the opposite way round the following day. The weather was just perfect with hardly a cloud in the sky although Sunday gave us a better view of Mt Fuji than Saturday. While you're on the Hakone Ropeway you pass over O-waku-dani where volcanic fumes still bear traces of the Hakone Volcano as sulphur oozes out of the earth. The whole thing was just magic. On Sunday I walked along the Ancient Cedar Avenue - cedar trees planted by the Edomite Shogunate along the old Tokaido highway in 1618 -
which you pass on the way back down to the Ryokan. By that time the boys decided it was all too hard so I did that on my own; for me it was a pleasure to walk a little of the route taken so many year ago when walking was the main mode of transport.
Arriving back at the Ryokan prior to our journey back to Tokyo we had one last treat to enjoy as we were greeted by some locals, including little children, taking part in a thanksgiving ceremony. Definitely a weekend to remember!!
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