ohayo! after a couple days of pottering around shibuya and shinjuku, it's time to head out of the city for a bit. we wanted to experience another part of japan without spending too much on the super expensive shinkansen tickets to kyoto and osaka, so hakone it is!
we bought our tickets to hakone on our first day at shinjuku station. here's a useful guide to all the ways you can get to hakone. we opted for the three-day pass for 5640 yen (approximately RM250), which includes passes for trains, cable car, buses, and basically most forms of public transport in the area.
woke up bright and early to pack and bid farewell to our nice little apartment in tokyo.
here's my daily dose of yakult hehehe.
as you can see our flatlays are already becoming less posed by the third day ahahaha.
not much photos cuz we're all busy dragging our luggage over pavements and being annoying tourists and trying not to get in the way of nice tokyoites going about their daily lives.
after a long train ride (in which i was constantly marveling at the countryside and oohing and aahing at every little kampung and sparkling stream we passed by and liz and peggy were trying to ignore me), we arrived at odawara!
HELLO FOOD FROM THE DEPARTMENT STORE BASEMENT FOOD HALL.
story time: i know i mentioned earlier that we were heading to hakone, but liz was fooled by an airbnb's description of 'near to hakone'.
long story short, she booked this super cool little airbnb that's NOT NEAR TO HAKONE AT ALL. but it turned out to be a nice mistake at the end! odawara is the transit point between tokyo and hakone, while our airbnb is actually in iwahara, which is a tiny kampung accessible from a small train line off odawara itself.
here's an explanatory google map screenshot. hope you get the gist of it.
so after arriving in odawara, we decided to explore the town before checking in our airbnb! :)
tip: you can either rent lockers to stuff your luggage in, or there's also a luggage babysitting service at the ground floor of the station. our luggage is too fat to fit in the lockers so we went for the babysitting service. we spent too much time at the station looking luggage storage, wandering around the food hall looking for lunch, being super impressed by their desserts and individually wrapped strawberries, etc.
odawara's claim to fame is the Odawara Castle, a castle that was the last to be overthrown by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his quest to unite japan. if you haven't watched this super cool video about japan's history, please do.
it was drizzling and unseasonably cold, hence the sad photos. the place would be lovely when the sakura are in full bloom!
hello odawara castle!
everything sold at the odawara station had castle motifs on it. here's one of the sweets i bought.
expensive japanese sweet!
liz trying her best to stay dry in the rain lol
here's how the town looked like from the castle!
more beautiful traditional family seals in the castle museum.
after checking out the museum, we got coffee and decided to head back to the station to collect our luggage and check in. as the castle is walking distance from the station, there are some interesting sights along the way.
these castle-themed tiles, for instance:
there was also a high school nearby, so i had fun stalking high school kids.
then there's this arcade centre! how could we possibly miss out on another contemporary japanese cultural experience? so we went in and i spent lots of yen (you can also use your suica card to pay for games and that's very dangerous, in my opinion) on the taiko game hahahaha our arms were hurting from all that drumming!
(we got a terrible score by the way. i forgot that blue means hitting on the rim so we compensated by hitting extra hard but the score kept going down LOLOL this is so terrible T.T)
anyway. iwahara here we come!
the train is somewhat old but super clean and pretty!
while liz and peggy were busy playing detective, i'm kept busy taking care of our luggage lol
we're finally in! we're staying on the second floor of a pretty little cottage. while most of my ooh- and aah-ing was left for snapchat, here are a couple of shots:
anyhow, we basically dropped our bags and headed out again to catch a train for our first onsen experience! we missed the last free shuttle bus to the onsen so we had to - cue next japanese cultural experience - take the taxi! so much has been said about the japanese cab experience so i'm secretly glad that we had the chance to take the cab.
it was a super dark and winding road through some forest to get to the onsen.
we had a really nice experience at the onsen. lots of laughs (and i think the old japanese ladies were probably quite amused by us) but it is super relaxing to enjoy outdoor hot springs in the freezing spring night. also there was a japanese girl who was facetiming her boyfriend in the onsen so we were kinda weirded out by that. here's the onsen if you're interested! we visited for a couple of hours, but overnight stays would be great as well.
after the relaxing bout at the onsen, back on the train to iwahara we go! by that time all the restaurants in town were closed, so we checked out the local familymart for sustenance.
shrimp croquette sando that i bought from the food hall earlier!
familymart dinner flatlays lol.
so that's it for our third day! after an eventful day of travelling, exploring, lounging around in spas, missing shuttle buses and trains, running around in the rain, we settled down for the night. there was an electricity outage but luckily peggy knew what to do HAHA thank God for my amazing travel companions.
i also dug around the bookshelves of the airbnb and found this interesting book called 'salaryman in japan'. it's a somewhat hilarious but accurate book produced by the japan travel bureau about the japanese salaryman:
turns out there's a whole illustrated series about different aspects of japan. but that night, i stayed up to finish reading the book in one go and constantly sending snaps about it to wai yeng to tempt her to visit japan hahaha.
anyway, more on our hakone adventure next!