Continuing from my previous post, part I. of our Tokyo + Hakone trip, after spending several days in Tokyo, we made our way over to Hakone by bullet train. It was only a short 1.5 hour ride, and with our rowdy group, we had no trouble keeping each other entertained during that time. 🙂
Prascilla found us an amazing ryokan, name Setsugetsuka, just steps away from the Gora train station.. The tranquility of the place immediately changed our pace as soon as we arrived….quite a drastic difference to the pace of Tokyo!
Upon checking in, we went through their large selection of yukatas in the lobby and picked our favorites, before heading up to our rooms which were all adjacent to one another.
We loved our spacious, traditional Japanese rooms, with our own private open air bath tub!
Breakfast and dinner are included for each day that you stay at this ryokan. For our first night there, we were served a delicious wagyu hot pot dinner along with a number of traditional Japanese delicacies like fugu (blowfish).
We all slept incredibly well that night, maybe due to being in the onsen, and woke up early the next morning refreshed and energized. The traditional Japanese breakfast was almost too beautiful to eat, and after that, we enjoyed more time in the onsen.
By lunch time, we were miraculously hungry again, and though we felt reluctant to change out of our yukatas, it was time to venture out.
There was a well known “hole in the wall” joint nearby, known for its katsu pork. With only 8 seats in there, the wait took awhile, but I have to say….it was well worth it! Definitely the best katsu pork I’ve had, fried to perfection without making the pork too dry at all.
To keep up with the non-stop eating spirit of our group, we made a pitstop for ice cream and tofu after lunch before taking the tram to Owakudani, a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs.
Once we got up to Owakudani, we spent some time browsing around the shops up there buying souvenirs and sampling/eating more delicious food. We then took a small hike into the volcanic zone to a number of steam vents and bubbling pools. Mount Fuji was also visible from afar!
All over Owakudani, one can find these black shell eggs, cooked in the naturally hot spring water. The shells are blackened by the sulfur and is said to prolong one’s life by seven years. Ofcourse, we all had to try….but I’m disappointed to report that it tasted just like a regular hard boiled egg.
That afternoon, we went back to the ryokan and relaxed in the onsen some more before a sumptuous kaiseki that evening. After dinner, we hung out in one of our rooms and had a blast over card games + sake. 🙂
We checked out the following day and headed back to Tokyo for a final 2 days of eating. At our last dinner together, the group surprised me with the best strawberry shortcake (ever!!) as a pre-birthday celebration!
Another memorable trip for the books! We’re already planning our 2016 trip together!