Hakone! This is our only full day here, so we made the most of it.
By oversleeping our 8:30 breakfast. One week in, and I guess we’ve finally acclimated!
Breakfast was at our ryokan and was super traditional. Lots of pickled things and small bites, a soup, and a fish.
After breakfast, Ami wanted to take a dip in our private onsen (spring-fed hot tub). Girl is already a big fan. I have to say, I am pretty sure that soaking in the onsen is a much less relaxing experience with a toddler.
Then, we headed down to Hakone-Yumoto to start our day for real. I’d read about a transportation and sightseeing circuit that sounded great. First, we left Hakone-Yumoto by small-gauge train, the same one we’d taken the previous day.
Because it was on the way, we stopped again at the Hakone Open Air Museum to explore a little more of the grounds and see the parts we missed yesterday.
They have a fascinating collection of Picassos! And that building on the left is a tall tube of stained glass. Gorgeous.
Because we were a bit short on time and it was easy, we went to the buffet restaurant at the museum, which turned out to be really quite good and also very toddler-friendly. I enjoyed rice porridge and siu mai and stewed tofu, while Ami got really into the bagels and… the cheese fountain. Seriously. For dessert, there was a strawberry fountain! wut?
After lunch, we started our sightseeing loop in earnest. We hopped back onto the mountain train for one more stop, then, at Gora, we got off and walked 50 yards before boarding a funicular. Ami’s first!
The funicular took us to a town called Sounzan. Normally a cable car leaves from there, but for the next couple of weeks the first segment of its route is under maintenance, so instead we were all shunted over onto a bus. The bus was fast and the whole process efficient. Next stop: Owakudani!
When we disembarked, we were immediately slapped with the smell of sulphur. Owakudani means boiling valley, and volcanic steam rises from vents all over the area. There are also hot springs, and people boil eggs in these springs to sell. A chemical reaction turns the shells black. Eating the eggs is supposed to add years to your life!
Now, the whole visitor’s center is festooned with black-shelled eggs. There are egg stools to sit on, egg characters to pose with, egg shirts to buy, black steam buns with white and yellow insides to eat, and, of course, eggs to buy and eat. If you’re our Texan child, there is also snow to poke at, because it’s kind of cold up there.
At Owakudani, we hopped on the aerial cable car, again Ami’s first. She LOVED it.
Over and over… “Ami like flying car!” She showed her little toy where to sit and pointed out all the trees out the window. The trip is just over 15 minutes long, and she was pretty excited the whole time.
The cable car drops off right by a building where you can buy a ticket for a pirate ship. Yup, you heard me right.
There are even pirates to pose with.
Ami was very into the boat, and a group of Japanese grandmotherly types were super into Ami, too. She looked out the window and jumped up and down on Logan’s lap.
Just outside of the port where the ship left us were signs leading to the bus station for us to head back to our hotel in Hakone-Yumoto. This travel day, for all that there were a lot of transfers, was SO easy. The efficiency here is incredible, not to mention the ease of travel.
We ended up getting back to the ryokan/hotel right at dinner time. Back into our yukatas for dinner!
Ami had such a great day, but it was definitely a long one. She ate her dinner, and then I gave her my ipad to play with while we finished up. After a bit, she took her headphones off, handed me the ipad, climbed into my lap… and FELL ASLEEP.
Poor girl is beat.
Tomorrow, much as I hate to, we leave Hakone. On to Kyoto!