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Sorkoo Adventures

A National Park and lots of temples

JAPAN | Thursday, 29 June 2017 | Views [493]

After the craziness of Tokyo we headed 90 minutes south to Hakone National Park where we would spend one night and two days exploring the park. We discovered that a visit to Hakone is all about seeing the sites and not necessarily getting out in nature. The large park is filled with an array of transportation options that allow you to visit hot springs, temples, a lake and hopefully catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. We were in Hakone for less than 48 hours and in that time we took buses, a pirate ship around the lake, a train, a tram car and a cable car. It was a fun way to see the park. Our first day was rainy but we took the bus down to the famous tori gate that sits right on the lake. Then we took the pirate ship around the lake and enjoyed the rainy view from the dry ship. Along the way we made friends with a sweet family from China. On the bus back to town Danny spotted a trail and we spontaneously hopped off the bus. We're so glad he spotted that trail because it led up a path to an Onsen. We splurged for a hot spring bath and a nice dinner. It was the relaxing evening we needed after the crazy days in Tokyo. On the way back to the bus stop we veered further into the woods where we came across a large shrine glowing in the forest. When we saw it the next day in the sun it had lost its magic. We were lucky to stumble across it in the evening.


Day 2 of Hakone took us to the Open Air Museum where we strolled along modern sculptures and visited the largest collection of Picasso pieces. Than we took the tram car and a cable car to the top of the mountain. Everyone was awed by the hot stem coming out of this active volcano. We found it interesting as well until we turned around and realized Mt. Fuji was just behind us. We scouted out the best spot to take pictures of the elusive mountain. Apparently, it's somewhat rare to actually see Mt. Fuji from Hakone. You need the perfect clear day. We felt really lucky. We were also baffled that very few people were interested in Mt. Fuji. Everyone was focused on the steam vents! 


Satisfied with our time in Hakone we decided it was time to visit Kyoto. We boarded a bullet train and headed south. Kyoto was our favorite place in Japan. The city was quieter and there was plenty to see. Over 3 days we visited at least 5 temples, a zen garden, a bamboo forest and a few shrines. Our favorite was the Fushimi-Inari shrine, the iconic orange gates lining a path up a mountain to the shrine. Not only did we enjoy getting the exercise but the gates were so beautiful against a grey sky. Another highlight was the small hike to a shrine atop a mountain about an hour outside of the city. It was nice to see the mountains that surround Kyoto.


Kyoto also had wonderful food. We found a delicious Yakitori spot in the historic district (and we saw a Geisha). We had more Ramen. We found good pizza on the night we were craving a piece of home. And for our last night we found this wonderful bar where we had grilled meats, deliciously tender sushi and scallion pancakes. It was a great last meal to an excellent first stop in Asia. Can't wait to see what's next!

Tags: hikinh, temples


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