28 June 2011
There are many reasons to go to Hakone (箱根), part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. My main reason is always the hot spring or onsen (温泉) and delicious Japanese authentic food. After all, Hakone is declared as one of geo-parks in Japan by Unesco. Hakone is also half way between Tokyo and Kyoto. In the olden days, Hakone was a check point for travellers between the old capital Edo and Kyoto.
Odakyu express train (急行 kyūkō)
I tried the Odakyu Limited Express Romancecar before. The trip takes only 85 minutes. This time, we try the the slower Odakyu express train (急行 kyūkō) that stops in local stations. The trip takes around 2 hours. The ticket cost about ¥5000 (now¥5140) round trip from and to Shinjuku, with 2 days pass for most of the transportation in Hakone.
Hakone-Yumoto Station (箱根湯本駅 Hakone-Yumoto-eki) and Hakone Tozan Line (箱根登山鉄道線) in Hakone Yumoto Station
We stayed at Hakone Suimeisou ryokan (旅館). Oh look, my name is there. We reserved the tatami/Japanese room with futon. Cost around ¥13275 (now ¥15120) @person, including dinner and breakfast.
A complete Japanese Dinner. Word of advice: don’t.eat.rice. No matter how delicious the rice in Japan (I KNOW!) because the dinner set has small dishes. A lot. of them. Guarantee satisfaction.
After dinner, we decide to walk around, but most stores are close around 5-6 PM so we return to the Ryokan and have a soak in Onsen instead. Sorry no photo.
Returning to our room, the beddings are laid with soft, fluffy futon. Sleeping a night in Ryokan is not complete without sleeping on a futon (布団 or 蒲団), yes?
Breakfast is not as heavy as Dinner, but still… wow. Not sure we need lunch anymore. Hah. Not.
Short walk to one of the bus station with a little sight seeing.
We take one of the bus to the ship port to Hakone-machi port instead of Moto-Hakone. We depart and explore Lake Ashi (芦ノ湖 Ashi-no-ko).
Hakone Sightseeing (pirate) Ship. Unfortunately the weather is not good so we didn’t get to see mount Fuji.
Interestingly, in some parts of the ship, there’s braille for the disable, indicating the part of the ship.
Hakone Gongen (箱根権現), view from our boat
After our boat ride, we depart from Tōgendai Station (桃源台駅 Tōgendai-eki) and ride The Hakone Ropeway (箱根ロープウェイ Hakone Rōpuwei) to Sōunzan Station (早雲山駅 Sōunzan-eki)
The symbol of 大だい (dai) usually lit with fireworks during Summer
For our next destination, we take the long way because we want to try the Hakone Tozan Cable car and see the scenic Ajisae blooming along the way.
Hakone Tozan Cable Car (箱根登山ケーブルカー Hakone Tozan Kēburukā)
The short ride from Sōunzan Station to Gōra Station (強羅駅, Gōra-eki) and then take the bus S to Kawamukai Hoshi-no-ojisama Myuujiamu-mae bus stop. See bus map here.
The Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone (星の王子さまミュージアム Hoshi no Ōjisama Myūjiamu) front gate
In French: Musée du Petit Prince de Saint-Exupéry à Hakone with the Little Prince on the French flag.
On entry, the Little Prince greet us from his planet Youkoso! (ようこそ, welcome!)
The ticket cost about ¥1260 (now ¥1500). The ticket included with several brochures shaped like a rose origami and a sheet of paper with check list of the museum spots and check in with stamps.
The European style building is surrounded with a lovely garden. Roses are central in it and in the story book. Much of the inside and outside of the museum are replica taken from Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupéry, the author of the Little Prince, his life into the story experience.
It is said that the childhood spirit of the Little Prince is a reflection on Saint-Exupery. Scattered in the garden some statues representing the 6 characters of ‘adult’.
The model of the plane in which Saint-Exupéry as a pilot stranded in Sahara in real life and in the book the Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry as the narrator, telling the story of himself meeting himself (the Little Prince).
Going inside the museum and walking up the second floor with the stars stair then to the maze-like-halls is like going through his experience and reading the story at the same time. From Saint-Exupéry’s childhood in Saint-Maurice-de-Remens (The Sun King room), to his light and dark youth in Paris, to becoming a pilot and his struggle in the dessert, and fall in love with his rose (wife) and his writing. So sorry, except the entrance hall, we can’t take photos inside.
The replica of the chapel Saint-Maurice-de-Remens
The rose and fox motif stained glass
The Little Prince Museum Restaurant where you can have food describe in the book, a little French flare. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for even a desert. After shopping in the Little Prince shop, we ride the train back to Tokyo.
Some snap photos since Hakone in June has the ajisai or Hydrangea in full bloom.
Japan Trip 2011: