A Hakone is like a tour of modes of transportation. How does it go?
Shinkansen. For the trip from Shinjuku to Hakone, with a premium fare, you can take the Romance Car, which unfortunately is not romantic in any way.
Bus. Some routes are only serviced by buses, so better memorize those letters. Yes, they are identified by letters. This is the stop right outside the Hakone Yumoto station:
Boat. You can sail through Lake Ashi, seeing the tip of Mt. Fuji at one point.
Ropeway. From the end of Lake Ashi up to Mt. Owakudani.
Cablecar. From Mt. Owakudani down, we have to take the ropeway then cable car.
Railway. It’s different from a train – I don’t know how to explain it, but it is like the train’s grandpa.
Train. Finally, since I’m on the budget, I decided to take the normal train to go home.
All these are covered by the Hakone Free pass (JPY5,140). Is it worth it? I didn’t compute – I think I got more than enough rides on it to cover the flat rate. If you’re there for just one day… it might not be. I think the difference is less than JPY1,000 overall if ever, it will be way simpler if you just take the pass (and not worry about the fare)
The most fickle Japanese event for me, sakura blossom has such an un-Japanese trait: It does not follow schedule well. So if you only have one week to visit Japan, I suggest you do it in winter or autumn, or basically any other event with fixed dates. Believe me, the schedule changes so much, it’s pretty much either it’s there or it isn’t. For example, the full bloom was originally scheduled at March 25ish. Then it was moved to March 30 ish. Then to April 2 ish. Then the actual full bloom was April 7.
Oh, and this full bloom varies by location. So this schedule was for Tokyo. And to make it more interesting, this full bloom also varies by tree. Yes, BY TREE. For example, the Sakura watch says that the Tokyo full bloom starts at April 2 – but that’s only for some of the trees. The window is pretty short, and so timing your entire vacation credits and taking a leave for a week might be a tad risky.
The sad thing is that I was in New York for April 6-10 (I know, first world problems), so I actually missed the full bloom of the sakura in Tokyo. But oh well. I went ahead with my trip to Hakone, and lo and behold, it’s full bloom! So I’m really happy that I actually did a hanami. ❤
This is a place I simply passed through – I came in at 5:30pm because I missed the bus going here from Okinawa world, and I decided to just walk the two hour path. Based on google maps, I should have gotten here around 5pm, but I walk far too slowly.
The place is pretty peaceful regardless, with plenty of space should you want to pass time playing on the ground or just sitting in the grass.
How to Get There
Very few buses pass here – none of which comes straight from Naha. So you either:
Take bus 89 and go to Itomori terminal OR
Take bus 83 and go to Gyokusendo (Okinawa World)
At which point, you can go take bus 82 to the museum’s entrance.
You can be like me and walk two hours from Okinawa World to here.
So since I got here far too late, and the last bus coming in around 6pm based on my estimate, I had to find the next bus stop really soon. All my gadgets are out of juice, so getting on the right bus was really critical. Unfortunately, google maps does not show the bus route, so I have to figure out my way on my own. Given this rush, I had to play the game “find the bus stop”.
Let’s Play a Game: Find the Bus Stop. I usually use the satellite view so I can see the actual place (from the top of course), particularly for the stops that aren’t integrated with google maps yet.
Now, this one has a spoiler alert to it. I’ve already encircled and erased the original picture, sorry.
Thankfully there’s a map near the parking lot. With the actual map in the park and google maps’ satellite view, I was able to locate the bus stop, and get there. Didn’t make it on time though. 😦
To close my Nikko trip, I went up north to just walk around. While looking at the map, I saw that there’s Yudaki falls and Ryuzu falls near each other, so I decided to stop at Yudaki and walk to Ryuzu.
It seems that Japan has a themepark for everything. Hey, I’m not complaining. Imagine my surprise when I was just scanning japanican when I saw the One Piece themepark in Tokyo? Of course I scheduled a trip within the week!
It’s around JPY2,000 for the day, and it’s located right at Tokyo Tower. I mean it. Look for Tokyo Tower and go inside. It’s right inside. Unfortunately, this might be seasonal. So don’t expect it to be there forever.