Friday 27 October 2023

Hakone ~ Japan


It was time to catch the train and make our way to our next destination in Japan, Hakone! We caught the Romance car which was super cool and an experience in itself. Hakone is a mountain town located just a few hours from Tokyo. You can enjoy a view of Mount Fuji, many nature walks, visit shrines, and of course – the crisp mountain air. You can also enjoy Japan’s favourite pastime – bathing in an onsen!

Once we arrived we went to lunch at Gyoza Center, the best place to get gyoza in Hakone. There are so many different types of gyoza to choose from! They were all delicious, light, crispy and stuffed with very fresh ingredients! I would highly recommend stopping here for lunch or a snack if you’re in Hakone.

A short walk around the shores of the lake will bring you to a massive Torii gate (Heiwa no Torii) overlooking the lake. You’ve probably seen it in a thousand Instagram photos because it’s a pretty spectacular sight. Heiwa no Tori and Lake Ashi are some of the most tranquil places to visit in Japan.

The bright red awning over the rippling water is located inside the landmark grounds of Hakone Shrine. This spot is very popular to take photos at but like the rest of Japan you can find an orderly line where everyone gets a turn to take a photo. I loved visiting this special place and experiencing a sense of soothing calmness as I stood beneath The Gate of Peace and took in my surroundings.

From here you can walk up a few hundred steps to reach the shrine. We walked up the steps through the forest flanked by lanterns to the Hakone shrine, which sits among the trees and is often shrouded in mist! There were very few people around which made our visit very peaceful to explore the beautiful gardens and temples.

We booked into our hotel, Laforet Club Hakone Gora Yunosumika which is a Ryokan (traditional japanese accommodation). More than just a place to sleep, a ryokan is an opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality, incorporating elements such as tatami rooms, Japanese style baths and local cuisine,

The reason we chose this hotel was its private open air hot spring bath (onsen) located on the room’s balcony. The room was spacious and comfortable and I could have stayed in that tub for days.

It was very relaxing, especially after doing so much walking in Japan. It literally made my aches and pains go away. 

I loved how they provided you with traditional Japanese shoes and Yukata, a traditional wardrobe which you can wear in the hotel. I also loved seeing people having dinner and breakfast wearing it. This hotel also has a public onsen at its basement area which is nearly empty most of the time as well.

Along side hot spring bathing, dinner was a highlight of our stay. Ryokan meals are a elaborate, muti-course affairs with a variety of dishes and ingredients that are artfully arranged to reflect local and seasonal specialties. Ready to see what we had?

We started with an appetiser of fresh fish sashimi

Then a Fuji chicken and vegetable soup

Yellowtail fish with orange flavoured teriyaki sauce

Grilled beef with Lefole sauce

Fried lotus root and mushroom cooked rice, pickle vegetable soup.

Finished with fromage Blanc mousse served with tea

After a restful sleep we also enjoyed a big buffet breakfast that had everything from a western full cooked breakfast.

To yummy Asian breakfast options

Along with fresh fruit, yogurt and muesli.  

Then it was time to make our way to our next destination....Kyoto! Coming to the blog soon!

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