May 01, 2007

Hakone - Day 1 - Time for a bath

Of course, the biggest attraction of coming to Hakone is to experience the hot springs, and to refresh yourself after the daily grind of city life. There are lots of ryokans (Japanese inns) with baths in the area, ranging from fairly pricey to downright exorbitant, but this time I stayed at a small pension hidden away up in the mountains. There are only about half a dozen basic rooms there, and unlike the ryokans, there aren't large baths open to all, but rather two small rotenburo (open air baths) that you get to use privately at an allotted time ~ one before dinner and one after dinner).

One of the open-air baths gives you one of the best views I've ever seen from a hot spring, and you feel as if you're surrounded by vast open space. I could have stayed there all afternoon.

As with any place you stay that has a hot spring, the evening meal is a real feast, with one person's food being enough to feed a familay of four, or at least I felt as if I'd eaten enough for four after the meal. After a short time relaxing in front the stove, it was time to take the second bath, this time in the more intimate settings of a small Japanese garden.

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