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Japan Hour

Train Adventure To Hakone - Part 2

A famous mountain train nicknamed the "Hydrangea Train" and a store selling fancy and unique aroma oils and incense sticks - including a product costing one million yen - are featured this week.

We continue our “roulette” journey in Hakone, travelling from Isehara Station to Gora Station on three railway lines. Our goal is to reach Gora on the Hakone Tozan Line by 6pm on the second day. On the first day, we travelled on the Odakyu Odawara and Daiyuzan lines and reached Gohyakurakan Station. The next morning, we start the day by first spinning the roulette. We get a one so we board the train at 9.30am and advance one stop to Daiyuzan Line’s Anabe Station. A resident tells us to visit Suwanohara Park, which was recommended to us the day before at Odakyu Odawara’s Tomizu Station. The main draw of the park is its long roller slide. We take a taxi to the park, check out the slide and rush back to Anabe Station by taxi. The driver mentions a place called Grill Toshio near Iwahara Station. It serves large portions of pork cutlets at a reasonable price.

The roller slide at Suwanohara Park is on a list of famous places and specialities so we can move forward. The “secret” list was prepared in advance by local tourist associations, railroad companies and magazines. We land on a five after spinning the roulette so we take the 10.50am train to Wadagahara Station, five stops away from Anabe. We make enquiries at Wadagahara and a local suggests we go to Kohakudo, which specialises in fancy and unique scents, incense sticks and aroma oils. It boasts 800 products, including scented candles that resemble food and products which help people sleep. It even sells an incense product which costs a whopping one million yen. This item is made with high-quality fragrant wood and has no additives. Only the person who buys it can open the package. 

Back at the station, we spin the roulette and get a two. Unfortunately, Kohakudo is not on the list of recommended places so instead of moving forward, we must travel back two stops. We take the train at noon to Iwahara, two stations before Wadagahara. We go to Grill Toshio, which was earlier recommended by the taxi driver. We order pork cutlet with Hamburg steak, pork cutlet pilaf and cheese Hamburg steak meal. Lucky for us, Grill Toshio is on the list of famous places so we can finally advance. We land on a three after spinning the roulette and take the 1.25pm train to Fujifilm-mae Station. 

We walk to a famous pond called Seizaemon Jigokuike. Legend has it that a long time ago, a man named Seizaemon came here to look for a good source of water. He and his horse plunged deep into the ground and a lot of water gushed out from that spot. Seizaemon Jigokuike is on the list of recommended spots. It is the only pond in Kanagawa Prefecture selected as one of Heisei's 100 best waters. More than 10,000 tonnes of groundwater gush out of the ground every day.

We spin the wheel and get to proceed to Hakone-Itabashi Station, which is along the Hakone Tozan Line. We head back to Odawara Station on the 2.15pm train from Fujifilm-mae Station. At Odawara, we switch lines and take the 2.40pm train to Hakone-Itabashi, the neighbouring station. We arrive at around 2.50pm. As the station is close to Sagami Bay, a resident recommends we go to Hayakawa Port. The person also talks about a store next to the port called Odawara Hitotose no Yuki, which specialises in shaved ice made from frozen fruits. 

We ride a taxi to Hayakawa Port, five minutes away from the station. The driver tells us about Sakana Centre, where we can buy seafood and grill it at a barbecue corner inside. After alighting from the taxi, we drop by the shaved ice shop. The shaved ice is made using fresh fruits which they would freeze in a commercial freezer. No sugar or water is added, thus enhancing the natural sweetness of the fruit. We try various flavours of the shaved ice, such as peach, mandarin orange and shine muscat grape.

Next, we walk to Sakana Centre, mentioned to us earlier. We buy horse mackerel - the area’s speciality - scallops and tuna and go to the barbecue area to grill them. Sakana Centre is included in the list of recommended places so we get to advance towards Ohiradai Station, after getting five on the roulette. We catch the 3.55pm train from Hakone-Itabashi Station and a passenger suggests a famous day-use hot spring called Ohiradai Onsen Hime no Yu near Ohiradai Station. We alight at Hakone-Yumoto Station and transfer trains to a mountain train, which climbs the steep slopes of Hakone. This train has large windows, allowing passengers to enjoy the seasonal views outside. Hydrangeas are in season between June and July, which is why the train is also known as the Hydrangea Train. 

As the train passes through the tunnel between Tonosawa Station and Ohiradai Station, we are greeted by magnificent sights. For example, the Hayakawa Bridge, which was completed in 1917, is said to be the most beautiful spot on the Hakone Tozan Railway. Before Ohiradai Station, a switchback happens. This is when the train’s direction is switched in order to go up the steep hill. 

We arrive at Ohiradai Station at 4.35pm and plan to take the 5.30pm train later in order to reach our goal of Gora Station by 6pm. We make our way to Hime no Yu to take a quick bath. One of the 17 hot springs in Hakone, this public bath is frequented by locals. The water flows directly from the hot spring source and is 46 degrees. Said to be one of the best hot springs in Hakone, it is on the list of famous spots. Gora Station is four stations away from Ohiradai. Unfortunately, we only get a two on the roulette so are unable to reach our goal by 6pm. 


Tips:

1)    The main attraction of Suwanohara Park is its long roller slide 
2)    Ride on the Hakone Tozan Railway Line between June and July to enjoy beautiful views of hydrangeas
 

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