Just last week, I went on a winter road trip. Again.
Japan is home to many volcanic mountains, and so there are plenty of natural hot springs in the country. This time, my friends and I went to one of the most famous and significant onsen areas in Japan; Hakone.
Hakone is a place where almost every Japanese person goes to at least once in their life. It is located in Kanagawa prefecture, and you can catch glimpses of the iconic Mount Fuji between the high mountains of the town. The onsen town is famous for its numerous hot spring spots, variety of traditional Japanese inns (ryokan), beautiful scenery, and many museums.
From Tokyo to Hakone was a 3 and a half hour drive, but we did not use the highway until half way there, and took some detours. When we were off the highway, we drove across mountains. The roads were very curvy and steep at some points. There are rapid trains that can get you to the center of Hakone from larger cities like Shinjuku, and from there you can take the local train, the bus, taxis, and the cable car to take you to your destination. Most of the inns are located in higher areas of the mountains, but I saw many taxis taking people to their inns, so transportation within Hakone may not be much of a problem.
During our stay in Hakone, we ate mostly Japanese food. I noticed that there were many soba noodle restaurants. Hakone is famous for yuba, and there was always yuba-soba on the menu.
The next day, we went to pray at Hakone Shrine. This shrine is located near a beautuful lake, called Ashinoko. There were people paddling on swan boats and many people lining up to get on a cruise boat. These boats go around the lake, giving you a panorama view of the surrounding mountains.
Hakone Shrine is also known as Kuzuryu Shrine. Kuzuryu means nine dragons.
The onsen at the ryokan we stayed at was a little too hot for me, but for everything else, the food, scenery, historical site, and not to mention the beautiful weather those two days, I enjoyed every bit of this road trip too.