October 2021. In our Grand Scheme of Travels, Danny and I had planned to be in Japan with Michel. Quod non. So let’s go back to March and April 2013, when my sister Florence, her husband Kenneth, my nephew Leo and my niece Isaline travelled to Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. The classic intro to Nippon and a golden opportunity. I grew up with anime such as ‘Dragon Ball‘ and ‘Saint Seiya‘ on television and Japan had been on my wish list since I was little. There’s a lot I don’t remember. But thanks to photos on Facebook, my guidebook and check-ins on Swarm (Foursquare), I can reconstruct parts of that trip.
After four days in Tokyo, on day 5 we travelled to Hakone. Hakone is a town in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It has been designated as a Japanese National Geopark by the Japanese Geoparks Network.
Hakone is to a great degree regarded as a traveler destination; Mount Fuji can be seen when taking a day trip from Tokyo. In addition to hot springs (onsen), museums and other recreation activities, Hakone is known for its scenery during all four seasons.
The quick route
“The quickest direct route to Hakone from Tokyo is on the Odakyu Electric Railway. It runs trains to Hakone from Shinjuku Station, a major hub in Tokyo and the busiest (?) train station in the world”, Japan Station writes. The Odakyu Limited Express Romancecar travels from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station in about an hour and a half. Some versions of these trains have features such as observation decks and saloon seats.
I remember the shinkansen to be comfortable. Train guards are almost embarrassingly politie, greeting at the door and wearing white gloves. You are expect to be silent or at least muted. Seats can be turned around so you can create four-seaters.
I also remember the departure information board to be painted. Not dynamic. There are just no track changes. That’s impossible in Belgium.
In Odawara we changed trains and took a EMU from the Hakone Tozan Railway. It’s quite old rolling stock. People associate Japan with futuristic infrastructure, but outside metropolises it’s very different. Although on its website I now see more recent rolling stock.
Our trip to Hakone was uneventful but exciting. I regret not having documented it better.
2013 Japan Family Trip
- JAPAN 2013 | Solo in Tokyo.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo ft. Ueno Park and the Shibuya Crossing.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo ft. Sensō-ji, Hamarikyu Gardens and the Imperial Palace East Gardens.
- JAPAN 2013 | Meiji Shrine and Harakuju in Tokyo.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo ft. Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza, Zōjō-ji Temple, Tokyo Tower and traditional restaurant Jomon in Roppongi.