On Day 2, we actually got to do some real sightseeing and relaxing. We got up early and took a nice walk to Lake Ashi 芦ノ湖 (Ashinoko) and took the bus down to Lawson for coffee and a snack. While waiting for the bus to return uphill, we walked through the pampas grass field across the way. Since it was still early, I soaked in the hotel onsen (again). By the time we cleaned up, we decided to start heading out to explore. Unfortunately, due to the volcanic activity, they were not selling the famous “black eggs” which are rumored to add seven years to your life. We took the ropeway (gondola) roundtrip, despite the cloud cover and fog. From there we took the cable car down to Gora Park– admission to Gora Park is FREE for Hakone Free Pass holders (another reason this is a good deal!). We walked about and enjoyed the flowers and scenery; at the end of the park is Gora station, where the sightseeing train starts, so we took it a few stations to a popular soba restaurant for lunch. My husband got the Tororo soba (grated nagaimo, Japanese mountain yam known for its somewhat slimy texture and health benefits) and I got the tempura zaru soba set. Of course, there was also a stop for a manjuu snack, and we were given some mushroom tea as well.
From here we made our way back up the mountain to Lake Ashi, where the sightseeing ship departs. We walked to the Hakone shrine (it has a torii at the edge of the lake). It was really quite nice, but very popular. Heading towards the ship’s port, we took the cedar trail which was rather breathtaking. Many beautiful tall trees line the path, which surprisingly was not very crowded considered the crowds other places. It is not a terribly long walk and very flat, so I definitely recommend taking it. Arriving at the ship ticket office, we upgraded to the “first class cabin”– our Hakone Free Pass includes economy tickets on the half hour sightseeing ship ride, but for 400yen you can ride in the less crowded section. WORTH IT. The regular area was crammed with many people (mostly trying to get the best view from outside), but the first class section was fairly empty with both an outside standing area and an inside seating area. We easily walked both inside and outside without worry. It was very nice!
Before we boarded the ship, we had a half hour to burn. We noticed some girls sitting by the concrete dock with a set of 3 beers and some sausages. What was this we wondered? So we set off to find the place where they got these… inside an innocuous looking tourist building is a Hakone craft beer and (mostly fish/seafood) sausage shop. We certainly could not turn down the promise of craft beer, so we split the trio tasting set and went back to the edge of the docks to sit. There was a pilsner, red ale, and a weizen, all of which were pretty good.
On the ship, the loudspeaker announced various historical and cultural facts, but mostly we just enjoyed the views (even if they did not include Mt Fuji due to the clouds). To finish off the day we took a short walk along Lake Ashi at Togendai Port before heading back to the hotel to relax.
Once we arrived back to the hotel, of course one more soaking in the outdoor bath was in order. I donned my yukata again and relaxed Japanese-style. We finished the evening by enjoying some more craft beer (different company, but also located in Hakone).
Link to more pictures: Hakone Pictures
Link to Part I of Hakone trip: Hakone Travel, part I: 箱根
Link to Part III: Hakone trip, part III: 箱根