Hein (fub) wrote,
Hein
fub

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People from Osaka are crazy!

Today we had the whole day for ourselves in Hakone. After breakfast we went to the Kowakidani station to take the train to Goza. It turned out it was only a single-track train up the mountain. It had to do several 'hairpin'-turns: the train would stop, the driver and conductor would switch places (you'd see them walk by), a wissel would be switched and the train would continue, this time on a new track, down the slopes. This was all meticulously timed: while three trains were going down, three trains were coming up, and they could only pass each other at certain points. Yet it all worked, without fail. How come the rail system in Japan, which is not less crowded and complex as the one in the Netherlands, just simply works and is cheap, while the one in the Netherlands is expensive and inreliable?
Anyway, we arrived at Goza and instead of immediately taking the cable car up to the "rope way", we first went to Goza park, a park in "European style" (at least, the Japanese interpretation of the European style of gardening). We paid the hefty entrance fee and wandered around. It was nice, but not "oh-my-god-I-could-die" nice. Highlights were the fountain, the enormous Japanese Blue Willow and the hothouses. It turns out not only the cicadas in Japan are enormous, but they have huge butterflies as well. We chased after one, but failed to make a proper picture of it. The field of pineapples ("painappuru" in Japanese) was pretty entertaining.



Field of pineapples

Field of pineapples



On the way back to the station we acquired some more lewt and we got on to the cable car. It turns out that the whole hill-traversing infrastructure of Hakone was built by the Swiss. When they finished something, they left something of them behind -- in most cases, a giant cow bell or a Swiss Alp horn. Look for them in the terminal stations, pretty amusing to see something so eminently European back in Japan.



Us in front of the cable car, at the terminal

Us in front of the cable car, at the terminal



We got onto the ropeway. The first stage was in a panomara car, with 360 degrees view. We hadn't taken off yet, and a Japanese elder couple stepped into the car as well (they were big cars, with seating space for about 12 people -- and every 75 seconds, another one took off). The man immediately started a conversation: "Hello, how are you doing?" Turns out he was from Osaka, and, as he admitted himself, "people from Osaka are crazy!" But crazy in a most pleasant way! We chatted for a bit (he felt sorry for never having been in the Netherlands, but we hadn't been in Japan before, so we could hardly blame him). The funny thing was, that of the couple, he did most of the talking, but his wife had to help him with translations of certains phrases or words, while she kept mostly quiet.



View from the rope-way

View from the rope-way



We got off at the first station, where there were some solfators. We knew these from our visit to Iceland six years ago: boiling pools of mud, where the sulfuric gasses came pouring out of the ground. We said goodbye to the couple and had a simple lunch (onigiri with various fillings, delicious!). After lunch we walked to the solfators. To our dissapointment, most of it had been channelled and 'cultivated'. Highlight was the place where they sold eggs that had been boiled in the mud, which had acquired a pitch black color on the shell. We made the (brief) tour and then hit the souvenir shop. Biggest hit: the Hello Kitty Solfator Egg! (No, we didn't buy anything.)



Solfator. Note the racks with cooked (black) eggs on the right

Solfator. Note the racks with cooked (black) eggs on the right



When we left the shop, we saw a stall selling Ramune! Two bottles were acquired. I didn't know Ramune was slightly fizzy, but we found out the hard way when I pushed the marble into the bottle with a great violence... Ramune tastes merely OK, it has a slight bubble gum flavour...
Then it was into the second, older rope way. The next station was on the top of the mountain, the following one at the lake shore, where we had caught the ferry ride the day before. We didn't need to see that again, so we had bought a ticket to the mountain top and back. We got off the ropeway at the mountain top, and looked around. Why they made that station is beyond me: there is little beyond two hiking trails running down... So after a few minutes we decided we'd seen enough and went back.
We still had a lot of time left, so we thought we'd check out Odawara Castle (even though the Lonely Planet said it wasn't much). We went down via the cable car and went with the aforementioned train to Odawara. But to our surprise the train didn't run any further than Hakone-Yumato. We walked the shopping street up and down (but there wasn't really much of interest), and then decided to go back to the Minshuku for dinner.
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