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Japan Hour

Bus vs Local Trains In Kanagawa And Saitama Prefectures - Part 1

A shop known for its extremely spicy speciality ramen and an amusement park which is popular for its illuminations are among the places featured during this week's "bus team versus train team" race.

The bus and train teams battle it out again! This time, they will race from Hakone-Yumoto in Kanagawa Prefecture to Chichibu Muse Park in Saitama Prefecture. Along the way, the teams must complete challenges at four checkpoints which are popular tourist attractions. Each team is also given 10,000 yen to spend on taxis. The first team to arrive at the goal wins the race.

The first checkpoint is a store called Ma-chan in Gotemba. It is located near the prefectural border between Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture and is 34km away from Hakone-Yumoto Station.

The bus team goes to the information centre at Hakone-Yumoto and finds out they can take a Togendai-bound bus, alight at Sengoku and then transfer to a bus going to Gotemba. The train team, meanwhile, goes to Hakone-Yumoto Station. They are told that to get to Gotemba, they must transfer trains at Odawara Station and Shin-Matsuda Station. 

The bus team takes the bus to Sengoku at 9.55am, while the train team leaves Hakone-Yumoto Station about five minutes later. 

The bus team arrives at Sengoku at 10.25am and then takes the 10.40am bus to Gotemba. The train team reaches Odawara Station, after which they head to Shin-Matsuda. They then transfer to the Gotemba Line and then go to Matsuda Station. The train to Gotemba Station will leave Matsuda Station at 11.05am. 

The bus team arrives at Gotemba Station at 11.05am and then catches the bus heading to Lake Kawaguchi five minutes later. They make enquiries on the bus about Ma-chan and find out it is a ramen shop. They are advised to alight at Subashiri Shako Mae, which is near the checkpoint. The bus team reaches Ma-chan first and they are thus in the lead. 

The restaurant is known for its spicy ramen. As part of their mission, both teams must eat the shop’s top three ramen dishes. The most popular one is spicy miso ramen. Secret seasonings and spices are added to beef and simmered for more than five hours to make their spicy miso paste. The paste is then combined with beef bone broth. Besides Ma-chan ramen, another popular dish is habanero ramen. The restaurant combines the hot chilli pepper with their special spicy paste and also adds five tablespoons of powdered chilli pepper. 

The bus team initially plans to take the 12.05pm bus from Subashiri Shako Mae to the second checkpoint. But they later realise this is not possible as it is already 11.55am and they cannot eat the spicy ramen dishes so fast. They struggle to complete the mission and end up taking the bus an hour later than planned, at around 1pm. They must now head to the next checkpoint, Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest, which is 60km away. The amusement park is one of the most popular spots to see illuminations in the Kanto region.

The train team, meanwhile, arrives at Gotemba Station 40 minutes after the other team. They must walk 10km to the first checkpoint and aim to reach Ma-chan at 2pm. They are unaware that the bus team is way ahead of them.

The bus team are on a bus bound for Lake Kawaguchi. They get off at the Asahigaoka bus stop at 1.20pm. They drop by a store here to ask about getting to Lake Sagami. They are told to go to a bus stop called Karasawa and then catch the 2.30pm bus coming from Tsuru City which goes towards Lake Sagami. If they miss that bus, the next one will only be at 4.55pm. However, Karasawa is nearly 20km away from where the bus team currently is. It is now 1.35pm. The bus team decides to take a taxi to the Doshi roadside station and then walk 2km to the Karasawa bus stop. The taxi drops them off at the roadside station at 1.55pm and the fare comes up to nearly 6,400 yen. They then walk to Karasawa and manage to take the 2.30pm bus to Tsukiyono, which is close to Kanagawa's prefectural border. 

The train team, meanwhile, has been walking for two and a half hours. They finally reach Ma-chan. They are shocked to find out that the bus team had already come here at around 11.30am and left at about 1pm. The train team starts eating the shop’s three most popular ramen dishes as part of their mission. 

Meanwhile, the bus team reaches Tsukiyono. There is no bus which crosses the prefectural border. So they must walk for 2-3km on a mountain road to a bus stop called Higashino and then take a Mikagi-bound bus, before transferring buses to get to the second checkpoint at Lake Sagami.

Meanwhile, the train team finally completes the mission after struggling to finish the spicy ramen. They are told that to get to Lake Sagami, they must take a train from Fujisan Station to Otsuki Station, from where they can transfer to another train to go to Lake Sagami. The train from Fujisan Station will leave at 4.30pm. To catch up with the bus team, the train team decides to take a taxi. They only manage to leave Ma-chan three hours after the bus team. 


1)    Spicy food fans should check out Ma-chan’s spicy miso ramen and habanero ramen
2)    Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest is a popular spot to see illuminations in Kanto

Source: CNA


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