On our second day in Japan, we took a bullet train from Shinagawa Station to Odawara. This is the first time in my life that I have ever travelled in a bullet train.
From Odawara Station, we took a normal train to Hakone-Yumoto Station, the gateway to Hakone. We spent a bit of time in the vicinity of the station taking photos. I saw some wild ducks and a heron in the area.
From Hakone-Yumoto Station, we made our way to to Lake Ashi. Lake Ashi, also referred to as Hakone Lake or Ashinoko Lake, is reputed to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is a crater lake that lies along the southwest wall of the caldera of Mount Hakone. The name means “lake of reeds” in Japanese. It stretches about 8km long and is surrounded by mountains on all sides.
The lake is famed for its views of Mt. Fuji, its numerous hot springs, historical sites, and ryokan. A number of pleasure boats and ferries traverse the lake, providing scenic views for tourists and passengers. Unfortunately for us, the weather was marred by very strong winds and boat cruises on the lake and cable car rides were all cancelled.
But it was still a most memorable experience. The weather was cold (about 7 degrees Celcius) but the chill was compounded by the ferocious winds. At times, I found myself shivering and my fingers were a bit painful.
Watching the winds blowing over the lake was a sight to behold. The normally calm lake was a bit rough because of the waves churned by the winds. The winds were from time to time so strong that we could see water from the lake being whipped into a mist. And standing on the shores of the lake, we were splashed with water carried by the winds.
The view of Mount Fuji from the lake shores was stunning. Being able to see Mount Fuji is another item that I can now tick off on my bucket list. Despite the cold, we spent more than an hour on the lake shores and the woods surrounding the lake.
It was also an exciting experience walking on the paths in the woods near the lake. Leaves, twigs and even small branches were dropping around us like a small avalanche.
Overcome by the cold, we seek refuge in a café with a great view of the lake. After a hot cup of coffee, we regained some warmth and felt much better. We made our way back to Tokyo after that.