Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hakone: Open Air Museum and Hakone Mountain

Over the weekend, Ben and I treated ourselves to a mini-honeymoon. It was a perfect holiday.

We arrived in Hakone on the first day of fall, it was both the calendar first day of fall, and the season had suddenly changed from ridiculously hot, to a perfect room temperature throughout the city. The city is perfectly designed for vacationing, there are many destinations within the city, giving you plenty of options and no possibility of boredom, the public transportation is simultaneously effective and enjoyable, there are dozens of hotels through out the city in a wide variety of prices, and there are hot springs all over the city to sooth a body tired from a hard day of sightseeing. The city gets a lot of tourists, but it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap, which is an incredible feat in city design in my opinion.

Ben and my first stop in Hakone was the Open Air Museum, an outdoor gallery of statues, installations, and landscaping prowess. The whole museum was so utterly enjoyable, the art was amazing, and the idea of an art museum where you walk around outside to appreciate the imaginations of people far more creative than yourself is profound. There was a foot bath hotspring with an excellent view of the grounds, it was fantastic.

Ben and I ate lunch at the dim sum restaurant in the museum, the food was excellent, I particularly enjoyed the soup filled dumplings. The restaurant was elevated so that you could see the whole museum from the window of the restaurant and the beautiful mountains in the back ground.

After the museum we decided to go to the top of mount Hakone. To get there we took a train, until the mountain was to steep for that, then we took a cable car, until the mountain was too steep, and then transferred to a ropeway. It was beautiful floating over the Japanese forests, which were green and lush. When we reached the top we saw geysers, and sulfur springs everywhere. Ben and I felt no remorse as we completely ripped ass in the small cable cars over a cloud of sulfur, we felt like the mountain itself was challenging us, and dim sum is not ideal for digestion. We climbed around on the mountain, there was a little shack at the top of the mountain that sold black eggs. The black eggs are made by boiling chicken eggs in geysers, which turns the shell black, and gives them magical properties. If you eat 1 black egg, you will live an extra 7 years, if you eat 2, you will live an extra 14 years. The whole area was littered in egg shells, and smelled like rotten eggs/sulfur I honestly couldn’t tell you which I was smelling.
We decided after climbing around the mountain to find our hotel, our hotel stay was amazing… stay tuned for part 2.

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