During Lana’s visit (November 7 -14, 2009), we took an overnight trip to Hakone. We stayed in a Japanese style ryokan called Green Plaza Hotel. The fall weather was perfect, the colorful trees were beautiful and the hotel offered a perfect getaway from the city and a unique Japanese experience!
Hakone offers many forms of sightseeing transportation. You make a loop around the town by traveling on a train, cablecar, ropeway, boat and bus. My personal favorite is the ropeway! It gives you a view of Hakone from above and it travels over an active volcano that smells of sulfer. There are a few stops along the ropeway. One of the stops takes you to the sightseeing pirate boat on Lake Ashi. If you continue on the ropeway, the Green Plaza Hotel is a one minute walk from the next stop. Our hotel room was complete with tatami mats, yukatta robes, green tea and a Japanese style table. While we were at dinner, hotel staff prepared our beds (Japanese futons). Our dinner consisted of many courses of Japanese food. In a lot of cases, I had no idea what I was eating, but it tasted good! At one point, Lana picked up a piece of food and said “what’s this?” I bit into it and said, “Oh, this is pork.” She tried the same food and said, “Christine, this is fish.” Oops. That being said, there were some things I had no problem identifying. Our meal included sashimi, tofu, miso, some type of bacon wrapped salmon (suprising), a delicious fish and veggie stew that cooked at our table (the waitress lit a flame under the pot) and dessert, among some other things.
After dinner, Lana and I went to the hotel’s onsen. This was Lana’s first onsen experience and I wasn’t sure how comfortable she would feel; however, she said “it seems totally normal to be naked because everybody’s doing it”. When we were finished using the hotsprings, we used all the cleaning and pampering supplies at the onsen! Lana said “it’s like a do it yourself spa!” So true and so awesome. You get to use all the good products for no extra fees!
When we woke up in the morning (crazy early, that is), the sky was completely clear and you could see Mt. Fuji from the sliding glass door in our hotel room! AMAZING! Then we had a buffet style breakfast before heading out of the hotel to enjoy a second day of Hakone. The breakfast was both western style and Japanese. Basically, you could have pancakes and eggs while also eating fish, rice and miso soup.