We spent a couple of days at a ryokan in Hakone as part of a little exercusion from Tokyo. I’ve already mentioned the impressive must-visit Open Air Museum, but Hakone has more to offer.
We started our day with an interesting, but slightly questionable traditional breakfast at our ryokan. I think it was the only meal on the entire trip which I had trouble eating. I’m not sure what half of it was, but I wasn’t in agreement with it. It was a raw egg (which you’re meant to neck like a shot), raw root vegetable, pickle and ginger, kipper, two types of soya, miso soup and other stuff which I won’t even hazard a guess at. As I struggled to stomach something which looked like beans covered in spit (it left a stringy trail when you picked it up) I watched in awe as a two year old next to me, totally mastering the art of hand-eye coordination, used chopsticks to pick up his breakfast. I ended up popping my egg into my miso soup to half cook it and pathetically picking at the kipper.
We then headed into Hakone, and followed our map (which looked like a illustration of Never Never land). We strolled through Cedar Walk, stopped for apple tea in a nice building, then hit a museum and an art gallery.
We caught a themed pirate ship across to the other side of the island and marvelled at the Japanese tourists reenacting the famous scene from Titanic.
From there we took a cable car up to the Sulphur mountains. As soon as doors opened the smell of farts hit us (that’s the sulphur). Luckily the first thing my brother and I had done on landing in Japan was to purchase two obligatory endemic face masks (it had to be done), so we put them on and went on our merry little way. I wore that mask quite a bit on the trip until my friend said I looked like I had a sanitary towel on my face!!! After that, not so much..
Everywhere we looked they were selling these black eggs (which had been turned black by being cooked in the sulphuric waters). Ever the tourist, bro brought a bunch from the gift shop and we ate them to satisfy our curiousity and posed with the giant Hello Kitty statue. They tasted the same but the Japanese people around us were going mad for them and stuffing their faces!
Later, we headed back to the ryokan where I had my first experience getting naked in a (single sex) Japanese hot bath, known as an Onsen. The water was so hot but apparently it’s good for the health. And then to bed, on a thin Japanese mattress in my twee traditional room complete with paper walls and rice straw floors.
The next day it was back to Tokyo to pick up the pace..