Daily Archives: January 19, 2020

Hakone by Train, Bus, Boat, Gandola, and Hot Air Balloon!

We left Tokyo this morning en route to Hakone, a destination lake resort at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Our host families took us to Shinjuku Station at 8:30 a.m. to ride the Romance Car to Hakone

The Romance Car–best name ever, for anything–is a separate (train) carrier from the JR line that services this particular region of Japan–about 90 minutes east of Tokyo. Train service here is efficient, comfortable, and offers spectacular views of the countryside and shifting landscape from city to suburbs to more rural communities.

Baby Leena, Yasuko and Brian’s daughter, joined us for the train ride to Hakone. Future Porter’s girl!? Future Kichijo student?
At lake Lake Ashi we visited the Hakone Jinja Shrine in the middle of the vast and impressive snow-covered Sugi grove.
Waiting for the boat to Lake Ashi at Motohakone-Ko. It was cold but astonishingly beautiful. Georgina, Lydia, Mojo, and Alizeh on deck.
What a treat to see Lake Ashi from the Dragon Boat! Here. we’re looking at the surrounding mountains and Fuji-San in the distance.
We arrived at Togendai and took the Gondola to the top of the volcano and Hakone GeoPark. Seo, Kate, Shota–one of our facilitators–Louise, Aimee, and Blythe loving the lift!
An amazing view of the Lake from the Gondola.
Mountain view from Kowakudani on our way to the Ryokan when we spent the night.
After a long and cold day, we enjoyed a traditional dinner (feast!) at the Ryokan. Dishes included a personal hot-pot, sashimi, pickled daikon radish, miso soup and rice, miso-marinated fish…. The food was plentiful, fresh, flavorful, and wonderfully satisfying!
Our hosts, Brian, Yasuko ( and baby Leena) made us feel welcome and at home; our guides, Shota and Eriko, helped us navigate our way through Hakone with patience and determination.

Last August, a damaging and destructive typhoon (is there any other kind?) hit the Hakone are especially hard, destroying local rail lines and making access and egress to these small but important mountain towns particularly challenging. Because many local rail lines are still recovering, travelers–both local and tourist travel–have had to rely on “replacement bus service” which we did in plenty today. (Hot air balloon never happened, though we might have wished it did.)