H'amazing Hakone

Trip Start Nov 10, 2009
Trip End May 07, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You might say that taking an hour-long bus ride plus four trains for a one-night stay was an ill thought out plan. And you'd be right. We didn't do our research... And on top of that, we discovered en route that we had to pay extra for some legs which weren't covered by our rail passes.

But our trials weren't in vain - we were headed to Hakone, a tranquil, lake-side spot with a cable car boasting stunning views of Mount Fuji. As we're unable to climb Fuji-san (as it is known here) due to the weather, taking in some views would be the next best thing... we thought.

Naturally, when we arrived in Hakone, the town was enveloped in a fog thicker than a seafood chowder. But with dumb optimism, we forked out a hideous amount of money in the hope that the cable cars would take us above the clouds to crystal-clear visibility.

"Enjoy the spectacular views of Mount Fuji!" the woman on the speaker system trilled during the whole of the forty-minute ride. "Awe at the panoramic scenery..."

We blinked dolefully at the windows which for all intents and purposes could have been whitewashed. We couldn't see the treetops, let alone Mount Fuji.

To make up for our disappointment we hopped off the cable car and went for a beautiful lakeside walk. The freezing rain poured down and by the time we returned to the cable car we were soaked to the skin and chattering at the teeth.

A disappointing time, you're thinking? Why even bother writing a post for a crappy one-night stay? Ah, but I haven't mentioned the hotel yet... The Hyatt Regency at Hakone is one of the best hotels we've stayed in. On check-in we were upgraded to a really beautiful room, the type of room where you lose your other half... are they in the bathroom? The dressing room? The lounge? Who knows?

Then we enjoyed free evening drinks around a crackling log fire before taking a dip in the onsens. Onsens are public (or shared) hot-spring, mineral-rich baths which are said to have all sorts of beneficial affects, none of which I had the slightest conviction in. In fact, I was not at all certain I would even go in what with the compulsory nakedness and all, but I'm glad I did. All I can say is the waters must have magical properties - I've never felt so relaxed. Really, there's something in the water...

You might think a blog post for one night is over the top, but the Hyatt at Hakone is worth it. Next time we'll just make sure to book way in advance for a longer stay...
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