Key Highlights - Arrived in Hakone via Metro - Checked into Aura Tachibana Hotel - Pirate Ship ride around Lake Ashi - Public Onsen at the Hotel - Dinner at Aura Tachibana - Private Onsen
At 8:30 AM, my girlfriend and I left the Nihombashi Bay Hotel. We made our way to the metro station and were on our way to Hakone, which is about two hours south of Tokyo. Hakone is a popular tourist destination to experience Japanese hot springs. Originally we had decided to hike part of Mt. Fuji, but the weather suggested it would be too dangerous. Our back-up plan was to visit somewhere close enough to Mt. Fuji where we could see it.
When we arrived at the station, we used Google Maps to navigate to our hotel. Although we passed a couple restaurants and small shops, we knew we were in the country side. It was about a 10 minute up hill and side-winding walk to the hotel. The moment we started to walk up to the hotel, we were surprisingly greeted by a westerner. He started speaking English to us! The whole trip up till our Hakone visit, everyone started off by speaking Japanese to us.
Pirate Ship at Lake Ashi with a view of Mt. Fuji
My girlfriend and I were ready to check in, but they were still cleaning the hotel. One of the hotel ladies said that we could keep our luggage at the hotel. Luckily we had made alternative plans to visit the nearby lake. When we figured out which bus to take, it was relatively easy to follow the plan. We took one bus all the way to a small town with a large lake. I stepped out of the bus and saw this huge lake. Lone behold, we had the opportunity to ride a pirate ship around the Lake Ashi. Although it was a bit pricey at about $15 per person, we did it anyways. One side tip, I would recommend buying the tourist package deal at the metro station. It saves you money on bus and also you get to ride the pirate ride. Individually, we probably would've saved like $20 bucks had we done that.
To offset the costs we spent at the Two Michelin Starred Omotesando Ukai-Tei, we decided to grab lunch at the local 7-11. Actually, there weren't that many food options, so we had to settle. Ramen and a rice ball were the two things we paired with two cold tea drinks for lunch. We probably spent about two and a half hours near the lake. There isn't that much to do other than taking a ride on the pirate ship. At the gift shop, they sold cheesecake Kit Kats!
One of many dishes for dinner at Aura Tachibana
We eventually made our way back to the hotel via the bus. Either the Japanese bus driver didn't really like the fact that we couldn't speak Japanese or he disliked that we didn't load our Suica cards with enough money to pay for the bus. We had enough cash to cover the bus right though, it just wasn't loaded on our cards. In any event, when we got back to the hotel, we were given a brief tour of where the public hot spring was. Then we got to our hotel room and saw a private onsen!
Private Onsen at our Hotel
Dinner was served at 7:30 PM, which was an incredible 2 hour experience. The meal was different from the Teppanyaki place in that it consisted of more traditional dishes. We were definitely full when we finished eating. Not only did we have a great view during dinner, but the server introduced each dish. After dinner, we just chilled and relaxed in the private osen.