Mt. Fuji and Hot Spring Ryokan were the two reasons Hakone was on our itinerary. Unfortunately for us, the volcano area was closed due to possible minor eruption so Hakone ropeway was out of the question, which makes the famous (and touristy) Hakone course less than worthwhile for us.
At the suggestion of a very helpful agent at the tourist information center, we bought the Izu Hakone Pass in hopes of riding the Komagatake Ropeway to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. Buses in Hakone area are expensive; just a round trip ride to and from Lake Ashi, plus the Komagatake Ropeway would easily make up for the 3,000 yen Izu Hakone Pass. The pass also includes unlimited boat ride on Lake Ashi, and other transportations in the area. Sadly, the next day we found out that the ropeway was closed for maintenance for the day. Lake Ashi cruise boat is nearby, but the next boat was not until 30 minutes later. There was a small aquarium (also included in the pass) nearby so we decided to check it out to kill some time.
Atlas, we board the Lake Ashi cruise boat. On a clear day you are supposed to see Mt. Fuji in the background. No luck for us this time but I have heard from a friend who has been to Hakone multiple occasions that she didn’t catch a glimpse of the shy mountain even once, so who am I to complain? In my view, Lake Ashi (without Mt. Fuji) is less impressive than Lake Tahoe back home. What can I say? I am from Cali and very spoiled when it comes to natural scenery.
We booked a room with private bath (20,000 yen plus tax), and it was worth every penny. The family bath (which guest can reserve in 30 min slots) was lukewarm and as soon as I dipped my toe in it I decided our private bath was way better. I even put on a facial mask when I soak in my very own tub. It was a very relaxing experience and I did feel very rejuvenated afterwards. I am disappointed that they don’t have an outdoor public bath but if budget allows, you can reserve a room with private outdoor bath.
Our room was very spacious, complete with large windows overlooking a flowing creek. When I am not in our private hot spring, I spent endless hours staring at the view.
Dinner was served in Ryokan restaurant with pork Shabu-Shabu and other undistinguishable yet palatable Japanese side dishes. In the morning, we were delighted to see fish and savory meatball soup. Everything was delicious and we were glad to have this traditional Ryokan experience, which more than made up for the non-sighting of Mt. Fuji.
Even if you are not going in Hakone I highly recommend a stay at a half-board hot spring Ryokan, even just for one night. In my opinion it is a must for any first-time Japan itinerary.
This is one of the posts from our two-week trip to Japan and Vietnam. Below is our itinerary. For other posts, please click on the links below:
Index Page: My Two Week Itinerary in Japan and Vietnam
Day 1 & Day 3 : Kyoto: Heart of Traditional Japan.
Day 2: Deers in Nara
Day 4 – Day 5: Hakone: Hot Spring Ryokan and the Non-sighting of Mt. Fuji
Day 5: City Lights in Tokyo
Day 6: Last Day in Tokyo: Meiji Shrine and Tsujiki Fish Market
Day 7-8: Ha Long Bay: A night at the Bay of Descending Dragon
Day 9: One Day Tour in Hanoi
Day 10: Historical Sites in Hue
Day 11 -12 Hoi An : Picturesque Ancient Town