Sulphur Springs and Pirate Ships

Ok these blogs are going to have to get a little shorter no matter how much cool stuff we are doing. I’m just running behind writing and uploading them so maybe some things might get missed, but I’m still going to tell the best bits… 

Like breakfast!

This was incredible! We had a special box waiting for us on the table when we came down. Inside were 9 beautifully presented and gorgeous small bowls with each a different morsel of food. As we sat down, our host came over and gave us a bowl of rice, miso soup, leafy salad and grilled fillet of fish. It was so wonderfully presented and beautiful it was a shame to eat it. But after our worthless, nourish-less, dinner last night of crisps and pot noodles, this was a welcome treat.

Onto the cable car to the top, we were heading out to see what Hakone had to offer. When the cable car ran out, we transferred to the cable car you were thinking of, but they call a ropeway all the way to near the top of the mountain. Here there is a sulphur mine, that you travel directly over the top of. 

Enjoying the wonderful aroma, that reminds of being trapped under a duvet with Aimi, we arrived at the top. Here there is a visitor centre and a small museum about the process. This was interesting to see how they collect the sulphur but also how they create super heated water that flows down to all the Onsen in the towns below. Particularly interesting was that each vent creates different coloured water depending on the relative strengths of the minerals embodied within. We had wondered why our Onsen water was suspiciously milky, well this is why. We got some souvenirs and ogled at people eating black eggs. Apparently they are black because they are cooked in the hot water off the sulphur springs. If you’re a gamer, take note, they are reported to give you +7 years of life by eating one. We gave it a miss today but I’m curious.

Down the other side of the mountain on the ropeway we reached the shore of Lake Asai. We had bought “Hakone Free Pass” tickets to give us unrestricted travel on all transport in the area. This included boats to Hakone-Machi and Motohakone-ko. But what we didn’t know was that these were Pirate Ships! 

Aimi is a first class girl so we spent the extra £2.50 to upgrade so we could be at the front of the ship. It was great fun and a bit surreal, taking in the majestic countryside, mountains and fuji from the deck of a pirate ship pastiche. But we landed in Hakone-Machi without any skulduggery and went to find some food.

While boating over we saw a huge Tori gate in the water on the edge of the lake. So we set off for a walk down the Tokaido old road, lined with acient and gigantic cedar trees. This was beautiful with the light shafting thru the branches.

After a short walk around the shore we started to get close following a beautifully laid stone path covered in moss. At the Tori gate, we found, buy my expert estimation, no less than 100 tourists queuing to get a photo. We would like one, but not to wait that long for an average photo. To get the photo properly you need to have the camera way back and then zoom in on the gate and subject to pull the background in closer. We will try and get here really early another day.

The shrine itself was also really beautiful overlooking the lake. It was established by a dude called Magan Shonin who was told to build it in a dream. You should read the info board we found, because it tells of dragons over 1000 years ago!

It was time to head home, but the ropeway was closed now. We therefore boarded a bus, driven by a deamon. He knew exactly how fast he could take the mountain roads with the grip afforded him by a full bus of chubby tourists. Honestly, people were nervously laughing and toppling into each other as they gripped onto the railings going up the winding roads. So Aimi gave up her seat for an old lady to stop her falling over.

We alighted near a 7-11 to find some food for dinner. Last night we arrived too late to reserve a place for dinner so we had pot noodles with a side of questionable crisps, finished off with coke and wierd puffy busicuits with sweet white drizzle on top. It was a beige banquet so tonight we still had noodles, but found a big salad bowl and rounded it off with some fruit in jelly pots. I also got some bread that was advertised as “bread” but actually had red bean paste in some bits and custard in other bits – a nice surprise.

Again, we Onsen… had Onsen… took Onsen… went in the Onsen. Definitely could get used to this. It was quite satisfying to know where the water has come from down insulated pipes and gullies all the way to our fart flavoured little pool.