March 23, 2019
It’s time to say goodbye to our first hotel in Japan! It’s always a little bittersweet – it’s your first home here, but now you get to experience something different. Don’t worry, you’ll always remember the first hotel. I still remember my first hotel down near Kanda station!
This was going to be Abbie’s first time on a Shinkansen, the famous Japanese bullet trains. These trains never cease to amaze me. The tentative plan was to jump on the Shinkansen and take a break at Shin-Yokohama to enjoy some noodles at the ramen museum. We’d just find a coin locker to keep our stuff in and make our way there before lunch time, then hop back on the train towards our Hakone Ryokan.
…This plan did not exactly work out like we wanted it to.
First off, the sunny and mild temperatures of the past couple days has been replaced by extreme cold, rain, and wind. It was pretty bitter while we walked around, but it might be pretty comfy once we get to the ryokan. Now we just need to find a coin locker to place our bags.
…You’d think a major train station like Shin-Yokohama would have more than just a few coin lockers for the thousands of people that go through there every day, but no. They were all sold out. We explored all over for more, but they too were all sold out. We decided to raincheck the ramen museum for now and visit it when we return to Tokyo. Brining all of our bags in there would just be a nightmare and we were going to have a massive dinner tonight anyways, so we settled for a little restaurant near the train station. But first, I wanted to visit my favorite 7/11 in Japan inside of the Prince Hotel (where I actually stayed last time!).
Okay, all full. Time to get to the trains to zip over to over to Odawara Station. A quick train ride later, and now was the hard part. See, using the trains in Japan is easy! Using the bus system (without an IC card) is slightly a pain. They’re crowded and a bit stressful to use when you’re transporting luggage. Also, when your stop has a name like Sengokuharabunka Center Mae, it’s a little tricky to know when to tell the driver to stop.
Before we left the train station, I stopped over to the Information center and inquired about some advice on which bus routes to use. The lady working the desk was supremely helpful and gave me a ton of maps that she highlighted all of the important information and routes on. That saves a lot of time and effort.
First, we jumped on the Hakone-Tozan train a short ride up to its terminal station just up the mountain. Then we jumped on the Tozan bus line, marked with a “T” indicator. I remember riding this bus last time and getting off at the wrong stop, since it is named almost identically to the stop we’re supposed to get off. Not this time, bus.
We made it to the ryokan without much issue, but today was a long and cold day, so we were exhausted. Soon, we were checked in and we were able to relax.
Ryokans are always a treat, and since it was freezing outside (literally), sitting in our warm tatami room was wonderful.
They even had a kotatsu (heated comforter table that you sit under) ready for us. These are supremely wonderful, why haven’t we brought these back to America yet? Abbie and I prepared some of the high-quality green-tea and enjoyed our welcoming snack under the warm kotatsu. Mmmm… relaxing…
Wait… is it.. snowing outside?
Yeah it is!
As if it could get any cozier.
Actually, yes, it could. Because it’s kaiseki dinner time.
Now all that was left is to watch Japanese Spongebob and a show about cats (also a really amazing Rube-Goldberg machine show where they turned colored balls navigating the machine into characters, wow) and wait for our snowy onsen baths.