We continued our Hakone journey after a relaxing bath at Yoshihama Hot Spring by taking the Hakone Sounzan Cablecar from Gora Station to Sounzan (早雲山) via the route in the picture below:
The entire cablecar route only took us 12 min from Gora to Sounzan, 5 stations. Basically, this route is very short & only covered the various parts of Gora. Nonetheless it was a comfortable ride, not as crowded as the morning Hakone Tozan Railway route that was so terribly packed.
Sounzan Station, at 761m above sea level, felt cooler compared to when we were at Gora Park. Or was it because it was 4+pm already? 😛 Anyhow, we had to quickly transfer to the Hakone Ropeway in order to catch the last Hakone Sightseeing boat departing from Togendai (桃源台港) at 5pm. Below are some shots along the Hakone Ropeway route from Sounzan to Togendai that I took.
We did not alight at Owakudani (大涌谷) this time as both of us had been there previously when we joined group tours. This area is an active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers can be experienced. Here you can purchase eggs, cooked in the naturally hot water, whose shells are blackened by the sulfur & said to prolong one’s life by 7 years. Ubako Station is also along this ropeway route where one can get to the Sengokuhara which is a popular hot spring destination. That was the original hot spring hotel (Hakone Green Plaza Hotel) that we wanted to visit for views of Mt Fuji from the female outdoor bath area.
As our ropeway car proceeded ahead, I felt more excited as we could gradually see Lake Ashinoko (芦ノ湖) becoming more visible hehe.
Finally, after a breezy 20-min ride on the ropeway, we arrived at Togendai Station, in time for the last Hakone Sightseeing Boat in the shape of a pirate ship!
It is said that you have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of Mt Fuji on this sightseeing boat, and visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer, and in the early morning & late evening hours. But seriously, even if I were lucky to “see” Mt Fuji I wouldn’t know that’s the mountain lol. Can you tell me if I actually was lucky that evening from my pictures below? Haha
According to japan-guide.com, Hakone Shrine (箱根神社) stands at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shores of Lake Ashi. The shrine buildings are hidden in the dense forest, but are well advertised by its huge torii gates, one standing prominently in the lake as seen in the picture above and 2 others over the main street of Moto-Hakone.
About 25 min later, we arrived at Hakonemachi-ko (箱根町港), a little pier on the south shore of Lake Ashi. Stepping foot here reminded me of Voss in Southwestern Norway, that I visited last summer. The town looked serene & beautiful, hardly anyone was around other than tourists like us disembarking the boat, & shops were scarce or already closed at such time. Since it was getting dark, we decided to board the Hakone Tozan Bus (Line H) back to Odawara for catching a train back to Shinjuku.
It was a long bus journey of about 1.5 hours on the long winding mountainous roads of Hakone, partly due to traffic jam after the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (箱根小涌園ユネッサン) bus stop. From the spa resort bus stop, Yunessun indeed looks like an entertaining resort to go to. Well… there’s always a next time for us 😛 Our bus also passed by the 2 huge torii gates of Hakone Shrine over the main street of Moto Hakone.
Fortunately, we managed to reach Odawara Station when the shops & restaurants around the station were still open. So we had a quick Curry Udon Set with Yasai Tempura dinner (JPY 710, about S$11) at the Odawara Station mall’s food court on level 2 (I think) before taking the long trip back to the hotel. The curry wasn’t as good as what we had eaten on previous days but I liked the Yasai Tempura. We should have shared 1 Curry Udon Set instead as it was too filling for us to finish both the rice & the udon! 😛
By the time we returned to our hotel, it was past 11pm & we were dead beat. Nonetheless, it was a day fun-packed with interesting discoveries! However I do recommend that if you want to visit Hakone, do avoid going on a weekend unless you really can’t help it. It’d definitely be better if you go on a weekday! 🙂