Hakone was our first pit stop out of Tokyo, and before we knew it, we were headed off to Enoshima. Before we begin that, I thought I would write about one of the best breakfasts’ I’ve ever had.
Breakfast at Hakone Manor
Our hotel (Hakone Bettei Koyoi) provides a breakfast if you want to pay for it. As mentioned earlier, you get to pick a time for eating when you check-in. We had our reservation at 7:30, and proceeded to duck down accordingly.
Once there, we realised that everyone else (bar the foreign tourists) were wearing a Yukata, which is a piece of Japanese clothing similar to a kimono. Instant regret not wearing ours down, but oh well, at least we know for next time.
When there, you are seated at the table with a stone pot rice cooker on. I’m assuming they time it so that once you arrive, the rice is ready. They then proceeded to bring out a 3×3 box of pickled vegetables, fried fish, salad, miso soup, and fresh eggs. The eggs are meant to be eaten raw by mixing it into the rice, however, because they knew we weren’t Japanese, they offered to fry them how we wanted to. Eating raw eggs is much more common in Japan, than say, in Australia.
After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. Its pretty cool how the concierge follows you out to wave goodbye to you, then proceeds to bow and watch you while you walk away. I swear she was watching us until we got down to the end of the street, which is maybe 50 metres away!
Unfortunately, the day was heaps foggy, so jumping onto the Hakone Ropeway was a no go. The ropeway is currently broken up into a mix of a cable car and buses between stops due to volcanic activity, which takes away a bit of the fun.
Hakone Open Air Museum
Therefore next stop, Hakone Open Air Museum. We took a train from Gora station to Chokokunomori station (1 stop) to get there. It’s a parkland with huge sculptures or other pieces of art on display in an open setting. The entry fee is ¥1600, with a ¥200 discount if you are lucky enough to have the Hakone Freepass on hand. Theres enough here for you to wander around for 2 hours, which was more than I was expecting.
Inside the museum, there is a cafe serving coffee and snacks. Theres also a small observatory so you can see the entire museum from high up. Skip the cafe if you want, but make sure you use the hot spring foot path. It costs ¥100 for a towel that you pickup yourself to dry your feet later on, and free to enter the foot bath. Its nice and soothing, particularly if you have been on your feet the whole day.
Also of interest was the Picasso museum, which was sort of unexpected. It’s an exhibit dedicated to the life of Picasso, with artifacts, paintings, and letters from throughout his life. Quite interesting to have a read and wander about, even though I’m not an art fan at all.
After that pit stop, we took a train out to Enoshima. This was actually three separate trains, with us having to go from Chokokunomori station to Hakone Yumoto station, transferring to the JR for the Tokaido line to Fujisawa station, and finally, transferring to the Enoden line to Shonan-Kaigankoen station (which is where our airbnb place was). It’s actually not as hard as it sounds. Only thing I would say is to watch out for the Green Cars on the JR line. It’s like a business/first class carriage which you need to pay extra for.
I’m definitely going to write a separate post about our first ever Airbnb stay, as it was such a good experience. So I won’t get into detail about it here. (Click here for it)
After picking up the keys and dropping off our stuff, we ventured out to Enoshima island. To get there, we walked through the main shopping street that just outside of Enoshima station, and went south. The street contains the shops you would expect in most other shopping streets. Like those selling sweets, snacks, cafes and restaurants. Theres even a store here selling Lego!
From Enoshima station, it’s about a 10-15 minute stroll out to the island. It’s pretty to look around, pictures describe it better than I can:
One of the must have snacks on the island is the squid cracker. Its made by pressing batter and raw squid between two hot circular shaped plates. Think of a vice grip but at a much bigger scale. You can buy these pre-made in packaging, but it’s so much nicer when its hot and fresh. They’re ¥350 each fresh.
After a quick snack, we continued walking through the shopping street, again filled with snacks and tourist shops. We got ourselves to the Samuel Cocking Garden and Observatory. These observatories in the more remote areas aren’t too bad. You get a decent view of the surroundings for a relatively cheap price (Think it was ¥200 to go up the tower), and it feels less of a tourist trap than say, Tokyo Skytree.
Thing to note, once you are in the Garden, you have the option of paying for use of the escalators (¥600 for an adult), or you can ‘hike’ it yourself. The walk up the stairs is pretty breezy so in hindsight I would not have paid for the escalator. You could use the exercise right!
To quote a Japanese tourism website (www.japantravel.com), “The gardens themselves are not really that interesting, but the story behind them and other things there ARE!” The first part anyway is true, it’s a garden so don’t get your hopes up. I didn’t really find anywhere that told the story of the garden, im sure its interesting but I didn’t see it.
Rather we found a cute cafe near the observatory named LONCAFE. The cafe sells sweet french toast meals with tea/coffee. Not only was the food delicious, but you get a view of the ocean in an outdoor setting.
On the day we went, there was a full TV crew filming for probably a travel or foodie show. It seemed to have everyone’s attention in the cafe, including the guests.
Anyway, the foods delicious, please check it out when you are there. It will be the highlight of the gardens. It’s always nice to take a break from traditional japanese food, and grab something super sweet 🙂
LONCAFE was actually going to be our lunch. But as you can see from the photos, the portion dont scream out lunch to most. Fortunately, there is a lot of street food on Enoshima island, from freshly cooked seafood to sweet snacks. We grabbed a grilled corn cob and some cooked squid for ¥1000 at a street stand and devoured it. Once we filled up on that, we decided to make the walk back home.
Summary of places visited
Hakone Open Air Museum
1121 Ninotaira, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi 250-0493, Kanagawa Prefecture
Samuel Cocking Garden and Observatory
2-3-28 Enoshima, Fujisawa 251-0036
251-0036 Kanagawa Prefecture, Fujisawa