As much as Tokyo is an amazing place to live, the past week or so I’ve been feeling suffocated by the city. The heady summer concoction of heat, humidity and concrete drains the life out of you – often making you feel like there’s no escape. Yes, the beach is a good remedy – but more-often-than-not it involves warm beer, loud techno and jam-packed trains. Which isn’t exactly relaxing.
Sick of the metropolis, I packed a bag yesterday morning and headed west as far as Hakone. It was a day that saw me travel by train, bus, ropeway, cable car, mountain railway and pirate ship. I sailed across a lake 800m above sea level, watched as sulphuric fumes rose from the earth’s core and caught my first proper glimpse of Fuji-san, poking his head out out from beneath the clouds. More importantly, I returned to Tokyo feeling refreshed and happy in the knowledge that should the city ever strangle me again, the mountains will always be there to save me.
Heading west… swapping gridlock for rice fields
Hakone-Yumoto, and the first stage of my journey
Lake Ashinoko is absolutely beautiful
A shy Mount Fuji sleeping in the distance
… with a view.
Green tea ice cream >_<
The hot sulphur springs of Owakudani. I’d seen this kind of thing before in Rotorua, New Zealand, but it was good to breathe in the intoxicating smell in Japan.
Black eggs: eggs hard-boiled to perfection in the hot springs. There’s a special ropeway just for the eggs, so you often see crates of them flying down the mountain.
The Hakone Open Air Art Museum, which is the perfect balance of nature and art. Slightly surreal to see such a place way up in the mountains, especially the enormous Picasso Pavillion housing loads of his work.
If you live in Tokyo – or are planning to visit Japan – Hakone is well worth the 90-minute journey from Shinjuku. I mean where else can you eat black eggs on top of a mountain before sailing home on a pirate ship?