Back in June, Mrs. A., Mrs. D. and I took an MWR tour to Hakone.
We started our morning at the red tori gate in Lake Ashinoko:
And then we headed over to Hakone Shrine.
A beautiful tree lined path
It was beautiful
Apparently the prayer cards are burned every so often to make room for new prayer cards - the Japanese believe that the smoke from the fire sends their prayers to the Gods.
You buy your fortune and if it's bad, you tie it to one of the strings pictured. You are leaving your bad fortunes behind and moving forward with good fortune.
After we left Hakone Shrine, we headed to Owakudani Valley.
If you look really closely at the below picture, you can see the Hakone Ropeway that we took up the mountain. I would have taken pictures while we were on it, but I mistakenly thought we would also be riding it back down the mountain and I could take pictures on the way down. Whoops.
These mountains overlook the Owakudani Valley (also known as Hell Valley because of the sulfur springs) which is famous for their hard boiled eggs. They boil the eggs in the hot spring and the shells of the eggs turn black. The inside of the egg is still white and yellow. Legend has it that if you eat one egg, your life will be extended by 7 years.
The sulfur springs where the eggs are boiled
The hut where you buy the eggs
The eggs come in a pack of five and were still warm!
Eating our black eggs
I had one egg and shared the leftover egg with Mrs. D., so my life has been extended by 10.5 years.
From Owakudani Valley, we headed back down the mountain to Lake Ashinoko for a boat ride across the lake. It was beautiful and reminded me of Washington.
Our pirate ship
The view from the lake
Reminds me of riding the ferries in Washington
Another pirate ship in the distance
If you look closely, you can see the red tori gate where we started our tour
We rode across the lake to see Hakone Sekisyo Checkpoint. If you are thinking that they like to cram a lot of things into tours, you are correct. We were pretty tired at this point.
Entrance to Hakone Sekisyo Checkpoint
The checkpoint was built on the Tokaido Highway in 1619, which linked Hakone to Kyoto. The government wanted to control who passed through the mountains, so they built the checkpoint as a way to control travelers. They were concerned about the passage of guns between the two cities, and also wanted to prevent women being held as hostages from escaping.
Each person traveling through the checkpoint had to have a detailed passport, which contained a very detailed description of your physical appearance, including freckles, moles, birthmarks and scars. Each person who passed was examined closely to make sure they were in fact the person described on the passport.
The view from The Observation Deck, overlooking the checkpoint and Lake Ashinoko
Mrs. A., me, Mrs. D.
We were supposed to see one more thing after the checkpoint, but we chose to do some souvenir shopping and have a coffee and a sandwich in a local restaurant instead :)
My iced coffee with ice cream ... delicious!
Hakone was beautiful and I recommend checking it out if you have the opportunity. I will definitely be going back with J. some day!