Prior to hiking Mount Fuji we spent some time in Hakone exploring the area via the Hakone loop. We bought our passes from Odawara station, which gave us unlimited travel within the region.
This is the route we followed:
The first stop on the Hakone loop was Gora. We skipped the open-air museum and had some lunch instead before catching the cable car to Sounzan. On arrival in Sounzan we transferred to a ropeway and travelled up to Owakudani. This area of volcanic activity was created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone, over 3,000 years ago.
The Japense delicacy, Kuro Tamago, also referred to as Black Eggs, are found in Owakudani. Chicken eggs are boiled in the natural volcanic springs and the sulphur turns them black. It is said that eating one of these eggs will prolong your life by 7 years! During our visit the volcanic activity levels were too high and the path leading up to the springs (and other hiking trails) were closed off. The eggs were being sold in the local shops but we didn’t fancy buying five (which was the minimum amount) so gave it a miss.
We were in Owakudani for nearly two hours, most of it spent trying to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji! It was a cloudy day but the clouds were moving quite quickly and finally parted enough for us to see one side of the volcano!
Not the greatest of pictures! Apparently the best time to see Mount Fuji is on a clear, crisp day in Spring.
By the time we got to Togendai the sun was trying to break through but the sky stayed cloudy. The boat over to Hakone-Machi offered lovely scenery and would have been stunning on a sunny day.
Hakone was enjoyable but I would have preferred to spend my time hiking around the region rather than paying for the pass. The pass was good value for money in comparison to paying for each section of the route individually, but the route has very much been designed for tourism and I didn’t feel it lived up to the great reviews I had read.
Hakone is quite an expensive area to stay. We stayed in a very budget hostel and paid a similar price to one nights stay in Tokyo! The cost of accommodation along with the pass ate up a fair amount of our budget and for a mediocre experience it was a little disappointing!