The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lost in Translation, Part 2: Hakone

Our first destination was Hakone. This is a geothermal area near Mount Fuji known for its hot springs and alpine beauty, and is part of the greater Mount Fuji National Park area.

We stayed at the Fujiya Hotel. This is a very famous old hotel that we quickly dubbed “The Japanese Mohonk” because, well, if you ever been to the Mohonk Mountain House you’d know exactly what we meant—the kind of rustic hotel that was once popular with royalty and celebrities and offers impeccable service…but has definitely seen better days on the inside.

There were some very aggressively hungry fish on the beautiful grounds.

We were also the only guests under the age of 80…but I digress: it was a lovely hotel and a great base for exploring Hakone!

There is basically a very scenic circuit that one can enjoy that involves buses, boats, hiking, and a cable car and allows you to see the sights in one full day. Fortunately it was a nice one! I did a portion of the lovely initial hike up to Ōwakudani.

 …and then left Karen to do the rest on her own while I put my lazy ass on the cable car. We sailed over yellow deposits of sulfur and some hydrothermal establishments, and above it all was a handsome view of Mount Fuji.

Here’s Karen emerging from her hike at the top—notice the white wisps of smoke behind her from the hot springs.

At the top is a small shrine and beautiful views (and the pungent scent of sulfur).

A famous delicacy up here are the Kuro-tamago, or “black eggs”. These are eggs that have been cooked in the sulfurous hot springs, and their quality varies with the level of volcanic activity. They are said to increase longevity, with each egg you eat adding 7 years to your life.

They taste pretty much like regular eggs, maybe with a hint of sulfur. The circuit ends with a boat trip of ferries designed to look like famous ships from history. This was ours, a reproduction of the Horatio Nelson's HMS Victory.

A few final glimpses of Mount Fuji in the setting sun.

An unexpected highlight of Hakone was our dinner at the Sushi Miyafuji restaurant. This small restaurant was run by an adorable older couple that spoke very little English but showed classic Japanese hospitality. They actually referred to each of as “Mama-san” and “Papa-san”! The interior was decorated with countless pieces of origami, and we later came to understand that Papa-san had made all of it himself! He was a talented guy because he also drew the restaurant’s logo, which is a picture of him and Mama-san.

When they asked us to sign their guestbook, I couldn’t help but offer up my own sketch of me and Karen—which Papa-san enjoyed very much!

Having enjoyed the heavenly beauty of Hakone, we were off to the ancient postal towns of the Nakasendo Trail, BUT BEFORE WE GO…A FEW PARTING SHOTS!


Again, entertaining signs are a dime (or yen) a dozen, so here’s a couple.

Even Hello Kitty gets into the black egg theme.

Near our hotel there was a portrait studio that had some examples in the window that we found rather entertaining…

Next stop, Tsumago & the Nakasendō Highway!


Post a Comment

<< Home