Monday, 2 November 2015

07.08.2015 ~ Travel from Kyoto to Hakone

We were up at 07:15 to pack the suitcases, however I decided to go back to the Nishijin fabric shop to get the rolls of fabric and M needed more sleep. So I got the 101 bus from outside Shijo station to Horikawa-Imadegawa stop which is directly outside the Nishijin Textile Centre (¥230/journey; wish we'd known about the bus on the first day!). I went straight to the fabric rolls and ended up buying two 5m rolls for ¥10000 (£55 - such great value!). Back on the bus to the hotel where we packed the suitcases and checked out at 11:45.
 One of my 5m rolls
The other 5m roll

We caught the 12:33 Hikari Shinkansen from Kyoto station to Odawara which was 123 minute journey! (We had wanted to go to the Totoro House but it was an hour's journey from Nagoya station with no guarantee we'd get a ticket so we skipped past Nagoya & carried on). At Odawara we changed for the Hakone Tozan Line at Track 11 after buying tickets to Hakone-Yumoto as JR Pass doesn't cover private lines (¥130 single/adult).

We were booked to stay in Azito Guesthouse which was a 12 minute walk from the station (7 of those minutes was trying to push suitcase up Very steep hill). Once we'd put our bags in the private room we asked the owner (Yuta) to phone the Hakone-Yuryo Onsen to book a private room for us. We walked back down the hill & onto the main shopping street - what a difference! It was about 16:30 by this point and what had been a busy street full of shops now had most of the shutters pulled down and just a few places remained open. We were justly slightly nervous about how & where to get dinner later...

The free shuttle bus takes you from the train station up a super steep hill (>20% incline) to the Onsen at the top (4 minute ride). On the way we passed a high-ropes course & forest-adventure place which could be worth a look but we were limited on time. We arrived at the onsen and paid ¥3900 (~£20) for our private room for an hour. It was SO worth it. We were given the room key and a bag with 2 small & 2 large towels. The room had an entrance lobby and main room with low-level table & floor-chairs, mirror & dressing table, fridge and hangers. The sliding doors led out to the outdoor bath where there was also the expected onsen style shower. It was beautiful, peaceful and very private.



We both showered first as required & then got into the bath, very slowly as the water was 41C! It was bliss, though we realised we couldn't stay in the water for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. However we managed 3 rounds with cold showers between each dip. It completed relaxed us and took away the aches of 1.5 weeks of travelling. After drying and dressing we returned the key & bag to reception. We decided not to eat at the onsen as it was still a bit early so we headed back to the parking lot to catch the shuttle bus.


(entrance to Yuryo-Onsen)

Back down into town and all shops now closed and most restaurants seemingly closing soon too (18:20 at this point). We walked to Yoshiike Hotel Restaurant which was halfway to the Azito guest, but were told they were fully reserved until close (even though more than half the seats were empty..?) So we walked back down the hill to a little Soba place we'd seen. Hatsuhana Soba was open til 19:00 so we dashed in and had 2 chicken soba in hot dashi soup with a large bottle of beer & bottle of sake for (¥3250).

Afterwards we walked back up to Azito (19:15 and everything in town is closed, now what?). However Yuta invited us to cook/eat soba with him & his friends, so we went back down at 20:00 to socialise. Downstairs in the entrance room/porch there was Sai-chan & his Schnauzer dog; Shiho-chan; Kuni-chan and Yuta-chan. Everyone was friendly and enjoying each other's company and drinking. Sai-chan was a middle aged neighbour; and Shiho-chan & Kuni-chan were friends of Yuta who worked at the hotel down the hill. An elderly female neighbour came along with her Schnauzer-Yorkie cross, cooked the food on a big square portable hot plate and then left (?).

Yuta and Kuni speak excellent English so we had good conversation about music, English & Japanese language amongst other topics. Beware pronunciation! Yuta said my pronunciation of 'Kawaii' (cute) was closer to that of 'Kowai' (scary) which explained why when taking a photo for a Japanese family the boy pulled 'grr' face and did claw hands... oops!

About 21:30 a Spanish couple (Montse & Miguel) arrived back from a different Onsen and joined us so we had good conversation with them as well. It was a good evening and we went to bed at midnight, just as well as we'd had 3 bottles of umeshu and 1 bottled beer between us (for only ¥2000!)


  Our room at Azito Guesthouse

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