Hakone Springs, Brushing Shoulders With The Gods
Hakone is a retreat town in the Kanagawa prefecture 2hours south of the city. It is a hub for connection to many areas of natural outstanding beauty. The perfect spot for love birds, retired and the sick. The town itself is known for health, vitality and hot springs, tourists are drawn through the area of small shops offering anything from salted fish to redbean paste sweets. The keepers are happy and more than willing to attempt to speak to you in their best broken English. It's entertaining trying to understand each other, more smiles seem to be traded than currency.
Two box car wide roads, surrounded by great mountains, filled with ever green trees such as cedars and pines tower over, remnants of autumn colour scatter the walk ways. Japanese Maples retain their reds and oranges while awaiting the first frost, the mind can only imagine how beautiful the surrounding hill sides must look from summer through fall.
Herbaceous perenialls, bulbs and annuals such as knipofolia, clovers, daffodils tête a tête and members of the asteracae family, still hold on strong while camellias in flower and oranges hang on to their branches.
Warmth emanating from streams and rivers, flowing throughout the town, plays its part like arteries of the land. Additional factors such as the warm winter we are experiancing globally and the lower latitude allow these lucky specimens a little longer to play out in the winter sun.
The K Hostel I am staying at has its own hot water spring bath inside and outside, alternating sex's during the afternoon ensures everyone's comfort while taking the time to relax in the nude (manditory), the acceptance of ones own and others are another president set by the value and connected point of view the Japanese share with nature.
Not far from Hakone lies another small city called Odawara, I visited the their castle, rich in historic battles and struggle, this castle is currently undergoing a restoration project to save against potential treats of seismic activity. The grounds held museums containing information about the various struggles in the area for land and power. As I travel through this land I slowly appreciate how and why the country wants peace. Throughout the centurys much blood has been spilt in the conquest for power and domination.
In coming home from Odwara I met two lovely chaps from Canada, and invited out on a trip to Mt Hakone. We walked along part of a path used by travelers and samurai alike dating back far before the edo period. This well traveled path was home to multiple tea houses where weiry travelers would stay and build up energy reserves for the next leg of the trip. Old cobble stone paths lay the way though ancient cedar pine forests drawing you towards the lake. We took a cruise towards mt Hakone and elevated up a few hundred ft to the summit via gondala, we were met with some of the most impressive views looking over the lake, to the left Odwara city, to the right a faint outline of mt Fuji (frustratingly covered in cloud) and to the back sulphar pits where plumes of smelly smoke rose from the hillside. The folk lore here states the belief that this mountain is a God in itself. We created a small stone shrine and allowed a minute to appreciate the views before we made are way back to the hostel.