We are enjoying our retreat for a few days in Hakone, a two hour train ride outside of Tokyo. It is a well loved resort town in a mountain range with many hot springs. The mountainside is covered in changing leaves and though it is still mild here for November, weather changes rapidly here. We have been adventuring today on the Hakone loop which has many modes of transit, starting with a train, a tram going up a steep hillside, a ropeway gondola which takes you to the top of a mountain, and then eventually a pirate ship....yes a pirate ship. Our highlight of this great day was hiking up a trail to a hot spring with steam rising up with the sweet smell of sulfur, where they boil eggs in the spring and it turns them black. Chris will live 7 years longer than me because he ate one! The winds were blowing in gusts of what felt like 80km/hr. And the clouds quickly moved in and out with sun dramatically breaking thru. It was just a little terrifying coming down the mountain in the gondola with wind gusts and thick fog. But an experience I will never forget.
Our hotel is the Fujiya, 125 years old and you can tell! But many famous people have stayed here like the emporer and John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It has a very unique feeling and we have been enjoying its amenities like the hot spring water pipes into your own private bath and the Japanese gardens with Koi fish and red bridges.
One favorite way to relax here is to go to an Onsen. These are natural hot springs and you go naked. Men and women are separate and you have many indoor and outdoor pools of different temperatures to try. There is something so marvelous about relaxing on the rocks as you rest your weary bones in the hot water. I could go to the Onsen every single day if I could!
Another marvelous treat here are the high caliber museums. We visited the Pola museum which is in the middle of a winding road surrounded by trees and quite desolate. It is a stunning architectural glass building which looks so out of place. Inside the gallery is host to some of our favorite artists, Mattise, Chagall, Picasso, Seurat, and Of course more Monet Waterlilies! We may see the worlds collection of them at this rate. Tomorrow we will visit an outdoor museum and sculpture garden. Look at how cultured we are!
Overall, our side trip to Hakone has been relaxing and enjoyable. Tomorrow we return to Tokyo and spend our last few days there.