Sunday, June 14, 2015

Travel Diaries: Hakone

 Floating head, which was impressively large at the Hakone Sculpture Garden.  It reminded me of something that would have been in LOST.

Okay, so according to our guidebook, one of the main draws of Hakone is the many forms of transportation you get to take. I would instead phrase that as, one of the main drawbacks of Hakone is the many forms of crowded transportation you have to take.

Step 1: Go get a 'free' pass (that is not free) that gives you access to all of the transportation in the area.
Step 2: Take the train from Hades. It was insanely crowded, and consequently hot and stuffy.  Also there was a baby screaming and crying, probably because it was crowded, hot and stuffy.  A lot of the family complained about this leg.  Most people had to stand, so even if there was something scenic to see (there wasn't really) you probably couldn't see it anyway with all the people in the way.

After 30-40 minutes on the train, we took a much-needed break to check out the Hakone Open Air Museum.  
This was my favorite part of Hakone.  It was basically a giant sculpture garden, with some really cool interactive areas for kids.  

Like this gigantic climbing structure:

They also had an entire building devoted to Picasso.  There were no photos allowed inside, but they have some interesting glasswork.  They also had an entire collection of plates and other objects on which he basically painted this face:  o____o

For other Cal bears (or anyone who has visited), I was super excited to see a gold version of the 'Death Star' by West Gate.

Step 3: Trolley time.
After spending more time than planned at the sculpture garden, we were running behind, so we raced over to the next leg, the trolley.  People were very shove-y, and it was again crowded and not too enjoyable.  I didn't take a photo of it because it was not interesting.

Step 4: Gondola!
(Sorry for the blurry photo!)  This was the only form of transportation that I actually enjoyed.  It was quiet, and there were a limited number of people allowed in each little car.  That also meant we had to wait in endless lines, but it was worth it because we got to see Mount Fuji! My horrible photo does not do it justice, but it was majestic.

Almost as majestic as the cartoon rendering of it:

And if you looked down, you could see the sulphur and hot springs! They mention this point in the guide book we used, but we did not imagine it would like like this. It was not particularly pretty, but it was interesting.

Step 5: Pirate ship?!!?
To start heading back, you board a Disneyland-esque pirate ship. There is even a guy dressed up as a pirate that will take photos with you.

Step 6: Bus back to the train station.
It's a bus ride, just like any other.

We passed on Kamakura to visit Hakone, so next trip I would love to visit Kamakura! You can still see Fuji from there (according to the guidebook) and it looks like it might be less kitschy and more relaxing.  If anyone has been, let me know what you thought!

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