After a very relaxing bath at the Hotel Green Plaza onsen, I moved on to my next stop — the host springs of Ōwakudani. But these hot springs are not safe to soak yourself in due to high sulphur content.
One thing I have experienced time and time again on my travels is that, when fellow tourists see me with a DSLR, they assume that I’m better at them at photography and ask me to take their photos using their cameras. I oblige sometimes but the problem is, when one reacts positively and compliments me for taking a good photo, then other tourists hear that and approach me with the same request. This went on for a while here.
Before more tourists could ask me, I quickly packed up my camera bag and left the mountain.
The entire journey took more than 30 minutes because of how slowly the train moved as it descended down the mountain. It also stopped at a few stations along the way.
Thus ending my visit to Hakone. I’m so glad I chose to come here. It was a relaxing way to end my Japan trip which was mostly focused on exploring the city landscapes. I can see why Hakone makes for a perfect weekend destination. And I recommend it to anyone who wants a break from Tokyo. It’s also a great place to experience an onsen.
From Odawara, it’s another train I had to hop on to get back to Tokyo station. As I sat in the train to Tokyo, I was amazed at how much emphasis this country has put into mass transit. Trains are everywhere! I know India has a much larger rail network but it’s not as branched out as the rail lines I’ve seen in Japan. Large rail line connects you to a small train line that connects with an even smaller rail line which you could use to get to your final destination. In every major Japanese city, the majority of the residents get around by rail — whether it be subway trains, overground metros, and suburban rail. Good roads are there, for sure, but they’re not as wide as roads are, in say, America.
Japan decided decades ago to invest heavily in trains, not airports. It’s why it pioneered the ‘bullet train’ in the 1960s. I admire that foresight and the thought that went in getting the masses moved. Quite unlike the corruption-driven decisions back in India to develop unnecessary flyovers in place of suburban rail.
Anyway, by the time I arrived at Shinjuku station, it was night time. As exited, I was informed by the station staff that I had to pay 880 yen extra since the Hakone Pass didn’t cover the train ride from Odawara to Tokyo, which is understandable.
As I headed back to the Taito area, I stopped by a conveyor belt sushi restaurant near Space Hostel. I was really hungry and it was kinda pathetic that I didn’t eat as much sushi in 9 days being in the country that is famous for it.
Each plate comes with two servings. So I had 16 pieces of sushi for ¥1350 (₹890/$13/€11) including taxes. So how are things priced? It’s by the plate. Observed the colour of the plates? The white plate is the cheapest, so all the sushi served on the white plates cost ¥88. The yellow options cost ¥141 and the red plates cost ¥245. At the time of billing, they just count the number of plates of each type and voila — you pay the total. Alternatively, many conveyor belt sushi restaurants now have such plates tagged with RFID, so when it comes time for billing, they just run a scanner across all the plates and tally the amount.
Watch this episode of Begin Japanology that talks about how Conveyor Belt Sushi and how they operate. It’s pretty interesting.
Feeling a bit full, I then walked around the neighbourhood one more time… just because I felt like it. Plus it’s completely safe to do so. This was my last night in Japan, so there was sad feeling creeping up on me knowing I had to leave this fascinating nation. I’ll leave my final thoughts for the next (and final) Japan post. For now, I picked up some dried seaweed and miso paste to take back to India.
I picked up some snacks for breakfast as I had to leave early in the morning. I also picked up frozen pizza and cutlet from 7-Eleven.
The 7-Eleven pizza was actually pretty good. Sigh, I’m sooooo gonna miss the convenience stores of Japan!
The second to last day on Japan soil. I had to make the most of it and accomplish a few more things. Experience a proper, natural outdoor onsen (hot spring), see Mount Fuji from closer up, — and eat sushi at a proper sushi restaurant.
Today I was going to be spending the whole day at Hakone, a popular getaway for Tokyo’s residents. Famous for offering great views of Mount Fuji, many hiking trails, resorts and many natural hot springs.
Yesterday, I bought a Hakone pass off a hostel mate who had purchased a two-day pass but only used the benefits of the pass yesterday. I could make use of the pass to avail buses and local trains within Hakone today. But first I had to get to Hakone from Tokyo station.