My first day in Hakone started nicely, with some time in the onsen. I wasn’t planning on taking a dip, and didn’t really have the time because I’m so slow at getting ready, but since the only showers were the ones in the onsen, and it looked so inviting, I couldn’t resist!!! We had decided to spend the day visiting Lake Ashi and we wanted to take the cable car/ropeway to get to the lake, which would have been really cool, but they were closed due to geothermal activity (there was a risk of minor eruptions) so we had to settle for the bus instead. The one good thing about taking the bus was that we were able to stop and visit the Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Fields. I highly recommend it if you’re in the area, especially in the fall when it’s all golden, it was absolutely gorgeous. I could’ve spent all day there taking pictures, I seriously love that grass (I’m a weirdo, I know)!
After all that beautifulness, we stopped at the convenience store to get some snacks and to top off our metro cards, only for me to realize that (surprise, surprise) I’d somehow lost my metro card. So off I went, checking the ground along the way to see if I could find it, only to get close to the bus stop and see a Japanese family waving excitedly at me. They’d found my card!!! And they were supremely happy to return it to me! And I was just as happy to get it back. They didn’t speak a word of English, so there was a lot of “Arigatou” (thank you) on my part.
Then it was back on the bus and off to the lake we went. Lake Ashi is a crater lake and is really beautiful, especially in the fall with all the leaves changing colour. We did a sightseeing boat cruise from Togendai Port which takes you across the lake and is well worth doing (especially cause the boat is a replica pirate ship and looks really cool). You can buy either basic or first-class tickets (first-class gets to hang out on the top floors of the boat) but we were cheap and just got the basic. It’s a nice, relaxing way to spend 30-40 minutes, enjoying the beautiful scenery and getting a glimpse of Mount Fuji. There is a walking path along the entire lake which would have been nice to do (it’s an easy walk and takes about 3-4 hours), but since we were short on time, we went with the boat cruise instead.
We got off at the first stop: Hakone-Machi port and decided to walk to the next stop (Moto-Hakone port). It was a really nice walk with beautiful views and there was a park on the way with a great lookout for Mount Fuji.
After arriving at Moto-Hakone, we went straight to see the lakefront torii gate since we both really wanted to photograph it. It ended up being quite the drama! First, there was a young guy hanging out on the dock, backpacks surrounding him, waiting for someone and holding on to his swan pedal boat. Turns out he couldn’t handle the current (it was kind of windy that day), and had called the company to come and “rescue” him. The lady in the speedboat finally arrived and was yelling at him to pedal to her since she couldn’t get close with the boat, but he kept refusing and insisting she come and get him right at the gate. It was actually pretty funny, while also being super annoying, since he was ruining the picture for everyone, and so everyone was just hanging around, waiting for him to leave so they could take the pic of the torii gate without him and the swan boat. Eventually they worked it out, and off he went, being towed in his swan boat by the speedboat!
Everyone was stoked to finally be able to take pictures, so we all started crowding around, getting our cameras ready, but lo and behold, this girl in her 20s sets up her tripod and starts taking pictures of herself; herself with her tiny dog; and of just her tiny dog in front of the gate. Again, it was kind of funny, and also super frustrating as she was completely oblivious to the fact that everyone was waiting for her to finish so we could take pictures without her in it. Because it wasn’t like she took 20 pics and left, it was pretty much a photo shoot that lasted at least 10 minutes, while she posed her dog, set up her timer, posed herself, etc…! It ended up being hilarious, watching her pose and seeing how oblivious she was to everything.
And then she finally finished her photo shoot and went off on her merry way and we were free to take our pics, this time for real!
After all that excitement we decided to grab some lunch (can you guess where we bought it?) and eat on some steps overlooking the lake since it was such a beautiful fall day. Then we walked around the area a bit before taking the bus back to the hostel for a nap, some onsen time and dinner at the hostel bar.
If you’re interested in seeing more travel pictures, follow my instagram account at: awinnipeggerabroad