Day 4. Hakone day trip.

The plan for day 4 was to go to Hakone. Typically at least two days are recommended for the trip, to include an overnight stay at an "onsen" resort, but we did not have this much time. The weather forecast was pretty promising with mostly sunshine and no rain.

We woke up pretty early in the morning and rushed to the Odakyu terminal in Shinjuku. A special Hakone free pass (2 days) is available for 5000 yen that includes transportation to and from Hakone and all transportation types within Hakone which makes it worthwhile. For additional 870 yen (one way) a seat on "Romance Car" express could be reserved. We took the Romance Car option for our trip.

Inside of
Inside the romance car. We got our seats at the very front of the first car, right behind the operator.

Romance car front
Operator's workplace.

Since we skipped the breakfast and felt pretty hungry, we decided to buy something in the train. Of course that cost quite  bit of money.

Japanese drinks
Grape juice and soda from a vending machine at the station. The soda had quite interesting taste. Ksusha liked it.

Bento box in form of the romance car train.

Another bento box. Both boxes totalled to about $40 together.

Train bento content

Bento content
Content of the bento boxes.

By the time we finished eating there was a nice view outside of the front window.

Oncoming train
Oncoming train.

Fuji right ahead
Some mountain ahead. Not sure if it is Mt. Fuji or not.

Even though it was called express train, the speed was not all that great. While on the train we also did some video footage that you can see below:

Note at the very beginning of the video how the operator points his finger at things. This is pretty common in Japan to make sure you did everything on the checklist in a way that you can later remember you did it. Also I guess keeps the operator less asleep.

Odakyu Limited express Romance Car
Our train from outside. Total trip duration was about 85 minutes.

From Hakone-Yumoto there was a cool mountain train getting us to Gora. Unfortunately the conditions were not ideal, so no pictures of that part of the trip.

Cable car
Cable car from Gora to Sounzan. Quite a steep ride.

Riding a cable car
Riding the cable-car.

Cable car at the top
Cable car standing at the top of the line in Sounzan.

Friendly robot reminds us not to rush and not to run around the station.

Next up was rope-way line to Owakudani.

Ropeway car
Ropeway car.

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Inside of the ropeway car.

Up by a ropeway
View from the ropeway on initial part of the ride.

Once the initial steep climbing finished a breathtaking view of the Owakudani valley opened as we passed over the valley.

Owakudani valley from ropeway

Owakudani ropeway station

Owakudani valley from ropeway

Owakudani valley from ropeway

Owakudani valley from ropeway

Owakudani valley from ropeway

Owakudani valley from ropeway
Views of the Owakudani from the Hakone ropeway.

Owakudani ropeway station
Approaching the ropeway station

Owakudani ropeway station inside
Inside of the Owakudani Ropeway station. Elevation: 3425 feet (1044 meters).

Owakudani is an area around mt. Hakone crater that last erupted around 3000 years ago. The area still exhibits a lot  of volcanic activity: hot springs, bubbling ponds, sulfurous fumes and hot rivers are present.

Owakudani valley

Owakudani valley
Pictures of the Owakudani Valley from near the ropeway station.

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway
The Hakone Ropeway.

Owakudani valley

Owakudani valley

Mountains around Owakudani valley

Owakudani valley

Owakudani valley
Some more pictures of the valley and the surrounding area.

Pond near Owakudani station
Some pond at the top near the station.

Snow near Owakudani station
It's pretty cold at Owakudani (not surprising given the elevation). Even some snow is present around.

Hakone ropeway down to Togendai
Another ropeway from Owakudani down to Togendai.

Lake Ashi from Hakone Ropeway
Lake Ashi is visible from that other ropeway.

Lake Ashi from Hakone Ropeway
Cruise ship on lake Ashi.

view from Hakone ropeway
Mt. Fuji should be visible in that direction, but everything was covered with clouds.

Hakone ropeway down to Togendai

Hakone cruise ship
Another cruise ship is waiting for departure, as seen from the station.

Lake Ashi near Togendai

Lake Ashi near Togendai
All kinds of boats near Togendai port.

Hakone cruise ship
Cruise ship as seen from the shore.

Boarding the cruise ship

Boarding the cruise ship
Boarding. A huge line of people was waiting to board the ship.

Another cruise ship
Another cruise ship arrives.

Another cruise ship
As we are departing the other cruise ship is mooring. Name of the ship is BIKTORI (Victory)

All cruise ships on this line are stylized as pirate boats complete with cannons and even a statue pirate on top of some.

Lake Ashi from cruise ship
On the lake Ashi.

Small torii gate in the lake Ashi

Small torii gate in the lake Ashi
Some small torii gates are standing in the water from time to time.

Captain of cruise ship
Outside was pretty cold so we moved into cabin. Captain steers the ship.

Cruise ship on the lake Ashi
Met another pirate ship on the way.

Torri gate in the lake Ashi
Big torii gate in the water.

View from cruise ship
We are passing Moto-Hakone.

Moto Hakone from cruise ship
Big torii gate near Moto-Hakone station.

The ship arrives to Hakone-Machi and then turns around and returns to Moto-Hakone, but we decided to get off the ship in Hakone-Machi and walk to Moto-Hakone to see various attractions on the way.

But first of all we felt pretty hungry already and so entered into the nearby restaurant (vending machine-style ordering again). The food was pretty good and not expensive.



Hakone checkpoint gate
Hakone checkpoint. Kyoto-side gate.

Tokugawa Shogunate had built 53 checkpoints throughout Japan. Hakone Sekisho (checkpoint) was considered to be the most important and biggest of them all.
Primary purpose of the checkpoints was to control arms entering Edo and women attempting to leave Edo.
Hakone Sekisho was known for its strictness and was primarily responsible for keeping women from leaving Edo. It was built in 1619.

A document detailing dismantling and repair of the Hakone checkpoint from 1865 was found in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1983. It contained a lot of information about building and structures of the checkpoint. Reconstruction and excavation began in 1999.
Reconstruction was performed using same techniques and tools as used by artisans of Edo period.

Tickets to Hakone checkpoint
To enter the checkpoint be prepared to pay your duty of 400 yen per person ;)

Hakone checkpoint inside

Hakone checkpoint inside
Inside the checkpoint.
To the left Office and On-Duty quarters are located. To the right is soldier quarters and temporary jail cells. To the front is Edo side Gate.

Inside of the buildings not only everything was reconstructed, but the mannequins were placed to show various activities. Since it is unknown what color of the clothes were used and not to mislead visitors, the mannequins are colored into light solid color.

Guest room

Guest room
Two pictures from the guest room (Kaminoma). The room is filled with guns and bows to intimidate the travelers.

Part of the kitchen?

Living quarters
Soldiers resting in the living quarters.

Stairs up to the watch tower
To the right of the Kyoto gate there is a steep stairs to the top of the hill where a watchtower is located (58 steps).

During Edo period it was forbidden to cross the Lake Ashi by boat and so officials were patrolling the lake and nearby roads day and night.

Watch tower
Lookout at the top of the hill (Tomibansho).

Nice view of the lake and of the checkpoint are from the hill.

Hakone checkpoint from the hill

Lake ashi from the watch post on the hill

stairs down from the watch tower
Stairs back down.

Alley from Hakone checkpoint to Onshi Hakone park
Road on the Edo gate side eventually leads to Onshi Hakone Park.

Watch tower of Hakone checkpoint from the hill foot
Watch tower from near the Edo gate.

Stairs up the hill in Onshi Hakone Park
Stairs up the hill in Onshi Hakone Park.

In the Onshi Hakone park we headed to an observatory place from where a Mt. Fuji should be visible. This is one of the best spots to see Mt. Fuji in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Strange tree on the hill
Strangely shaped tree at the observation point.

Some big house on the Lake Ashi.

Torii gate in the Lake Ashi
Big Torii gate from the observation point.

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I am taking a picture of the Torii gate in the water (previous picture).

Lake Ashi from observational spot
Lake Ashi from the observation point. This is where Mt. Fuji should be seen if not for the clouds.

Some strange flower
Some strange flower at the observation point.

Ship on lake Ashi
Cruise ship on the Lake Ashi.

Hakone detached palace
Two story house in the Onshi Hakone Park, former Detached Palace.

Lizard in the park.

Onshi Hakone Park
Going towards the exit from the park.

Next up was an Ancient Cedar Avenue to Moto-Hakone. Its was part of the old road Tokaido.

Ancient Cedar Avenue

Ancient Cedar Avenue

Ancient Cedar Avenue

Ancient Cedar Avenue Big Cedar tree

Ancient Cedar Avenue
Old Cedar Avenue.

Torii gate in the Lake Ashi
Big gate in the water was also visible from the Cedar Avenue.

Cedar Avenue ends shortly before Moto Hakone. We crossed the road and came to the Lake Ashi shore.

Cruise ship on the lake Ashi
Cruise ship going from Moto Hakone to Togendai.

Boats on the lake Ashi
Moto-Hakone marina.

Torii gate in the Lake Ashi

Torii gate in the Lake Ashi
The big Torii gate in the water again. I wanted to go there a lot, but it was pretty cold and we were already somewhat freezing plus the sun location was not perfect to take pictures from the other side, so we decided it's time to go back to Tokyo.

Boats on the lake Ashi

Boats on the lake Ashi

Boats on the lake Ashi

Boats on the lake Ashi

Boats on the lake Ashi
Some more boat pictures.

Tori gate near Moto Hakone station
Big Torii gate in Moto-Hakone near the bus station. Here we took the bus back to Hakone-Yumoto.

Hakone Tozan train

Hakone Tozan train
Hakone Tozan trains.

Schoolgirls in Hakone
School girls at the Hakone-Yumoto station.

Of course we did not see anything, but I think still we saw substantial amount.

While wandering through Hakone we took some videos of various activities. Now I understand that we actually should have taken videos of everything, but too late.

From Hakone-Yumoto we took the Romance Car express back to Tokyo, it was already pretty late when we arrived, so we quickly had a dinner at a nearby tonkatsu restaurant and head to a nearby Department store food department to see what's there.

Super-sized shrimp
Discovered huge shrimps ;)

That concludes the day.



Thank you guys for the info and pics! Zavtra edim tuda zhe! 

Great! Enjoy your trip.