Our one and only full day in Hakone started with catching the bus down to the lake once more. It was still relatively early in the morning, however the bustle of locals and tourists was starting to build.
Before anything else, we stopped off at a local bakery for pastries and coffee. Needless to say these were needed.
Once the last drop of caramel latte was dispatched, we were off. Following along the lake to the left of the bus terminal, we crossed through a far more peaceful area. Across a bridge lay one of the most picturesque walkways I think I’ve be ever seen. Protected from the sun, wind and rain by a thick forest canvas above, the two hundred steps are layered in moss. The heat and the rain make prime conditions for nature to take over.
At the top, the trees open up and welcome Oshi-Hakone park to weary travellers and tourists. A 19th century colonial mansion house acts as the focal point of the grounds, which on a good day would provide superb views of the lake and Mount Fuji. Despite the cloud, the gardens and the view still made it a very worth while climb.
The walk down was far easier, and once we were out of the trees it was noticed that the sun had pierced through the dense clouds above. Making our walk to the bus stop that bit hotter.
Back on the bus and, via a transfer, we headed up to Gora station. It was a tiny station with quaint surroundings resembling gothic European architecture. It was a train station, but we were there for the cable car. It took us up the side of the mountain, to a destination which should have been a rope way station across the mountains. Unfortunately due to some detected volcanic activity, it was closed for the foreseeable. We didn’t have very good luck in Hakone it must be said.
We pushed on though, and a replacement bus brought us down to the far end of the lake in time for a boat across. It was bracing on deck, so much so that I was regretting the decision not to wear jeans. There was no rain, but the wind picked up a considerable amount. It was the first time we’d been in cold weather for weeks and in many ways it was appreciated.
Disembarking the boat, we only had to wait 10 minutes for the last bus back to our hostel. Our last evening was spent chatting to other travellers and trying local drinks such as plumb wine, sake rice wine and Hakone whisky in the hostel bar.
If I could do anything different in Hakone it would have been to stay for even a day longer. That and summon the powers to move clouds, but that is wishful thinking. Our time in this mountainous town was up, with a train journey down to Osaka next on the agenda.