Japan Hakone

When I got up in the morning on my departure day from Hakone I had two choices: I could either leave for Tokyo now, or I could stick around in Hakone for a little longer. The rain outside was still coming down but it had noticeably lightened up compared to the previous day and the weather app on my phone showed that the storm would temporarily break within the next few hours, so I decided I’d delay my departure to Tokyo until the afternoon and revisit some of the spots I had previously seen. My Hakone Free Pass was still valid for the remainder of the day and I figured I might as well get as much usage out of it as possible.

Japan Hakone Ropeway Owakudani

Japan Hakone Ropeway Owakudani

I first took the cable car to Sounzan Station and got on the Hakone Ropeway. Visibility was still minimal as I ascended up the slopes of Mt Hakone but I could see a little more than I had the previous day.

Japan Hakone Owakudani

Japan Hakone Owakudani

Japan Hakone Owakudani

Japan Hakone Owakudani

Japan Hakone Owakudani

Japan Hakone Owakudani

Up at Owakudani I got off the ropeway for another look at the crater. It was raining and a little bit windy but nowhere near as stormy as the last time I had been up there. I could see further into the crater and make out the individual sulfur vents, though I still couldn’t see the entire area. The hiking trails near the crater remained closed due to the weather but hopefully next time I’m in Hakone I’ll be able to explore them.

Japan Hakone Ropeway Owakudani

I then boarded the Hakone Ropeway again and descended towards Togendai Station. The weather was steadily improving and once the gondola slipped below the clouds I had a decent view of the surrounding scenery.

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Down at Togendai I could see that a gap in the clouds had formed over Lake Ashinoko so I hurried over to the pier with the sightseeing boats and got on the next one crossing the lake. The skies were still mostly cloudy and I couldn’t see Mt Fuji but the cruise was way more enjoyable that the one I had taken the previous day. I definitely got an appreciation for how epic the Hakone area can be and why it’s such a popular place for people to visit.

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

At the southern end of the lake I again saw both the Hakone Checkpoint and the famous torii gate of Hakone Shrine. The line for taking photos at the gate looked really long.

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

Japan Hakone Lake Ashinoko

I got off at Moto-Hakone and as the sightseeing boat pulled away from the pier the gap in the clouds closed and a wave of fog quickly rolled in over the lake. Somehow I had managed to get perfect timing for that cruise.

Japan Hakone Shrine

Japan Hakone Shrine

Japan Hakone Shrine

Japan Hakone Shrine

Japan Hakone Shrine

Japan Hakone Shrine

Japan Hakone Shrine

Time was rapidly running out before I needed to leave Hakone but I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Hakone Shrine before catching a bus back to my hostel. The shrine had been nearly empty when I visited it in the rain on my arrival day but with the better weather it was now busy. Despite the crowds it was still nice to see the shrine without the rain. I got some photos, wandered around for a few minutes, and then it was time to go down the stairs and walk over to the bus stop where I’d board a bus to Hakone Yumoto. My stay in Hakone was at an end. All that now lay before me was the final four days in Tokyo before my 2019 journey was over.

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