Our two-day journey on the Hakone Tozan Line in Kanagawa Prefecture continues. We start the second day by taking the 9.30am train from Miyanoshita Station to the neighbouring stop of Kowakidani. It is less than 10 minutes away. A local here suggests we visit the Chisuji Falls. We walk along a mountain path and manage to find the waterfall, which is 3m tall and about 20m wide. The water flows down in a curtain-like pattern and this explains its name, which means "the waterfall of a thousand threads".
After this, we head to Gora Station by the 11am train. We plan to take the cable car from here to Sounzan Station, the terminal. However, on the way to Gora, there is an announcement on the train that the cable car service between Gora and Souzan is currently not in operation as the station is undergoing renovations. So we will have to take a substitute bus to Sounzan Station.
Before taking the bus, we explore the area around Gora Station. We go to a dango store and the owner tells us about a Japanese confectionery shop called Ishikawa Kashiho. It sells the famous Gora Mochi, a rice cake wrapped in bamboo leaves. However, it is closed on this particular day so we return to Gora Station. A local resident mentions a four-star teppanyaki restaurant called Itoh Dining by Nobu. It is a collaboration between owner Mr Itoh and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, a world-renowned chef who has restaurants all over the world. We order its popular lunch course meal, which includes halibut and A3 rank Japanese black beef.
We go back to Gora Station to get more recommendations. Another local tells us about Gora Park. Opened in 1914, it is Japan’s first French-style formal garden. There is a greenhouse here with various kinds of plants and even a Christmas tree made of poinsettia. Another highlight is a 10-metre-tall “traveller's tree”.
On the way back to Gora Station, we speak to a resident who mentions Shima Syashinkan, a photo studio established more than 100 years ago by Rikizou Shima, the current owner’s great grandfather. He was a famous photographer back then for his landscape photography of Hakone. The studio displays his photos of the old Hakone from the Taisho and Showa periods. One of his photos was even used for a commemorative stamp. The photo studio is combined with a cafe, which sells homemade cakes, one of which is a pound cake shaped like a Hakone Tozan train.
We take the substitute bus to Sounzan Station at 2.30pm and reach the terminal after 15 minutes. Someone here suggests we visit the Hakone branch temple of Daiyuzan Saijoji. It was built in the early Taisho period and legendary creature Tengu is worshipped as the guardian deity. From the top of the temple, visitors can see all the Hakone mountains and Lake Ashi. We walk back to Sounzan Station and ride on the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani Station. We enjoy a panoramic view of Hakone and Mount Fuji as the cable car approaches the mountain top. The ride takes less than 10 minutes. A volcanic valley said to have been formed by an eruption about 3,000 years ago, Owakudani is one of the most popular spots in Hakone.
1) Visit “the waterfall of a thousand threads” near Kowakidani Station
2) A must-see attraction in Hakone is Gora Park, Japan’s first French-style formal garden