Friday, April 13, 2012

Adventures in Japan! Part 4: Hakone

Private garden outside our room at Hana no Yado Fukuya inn.

What Japanese adventure is complete without a trip to some hot springs?? After all that exploring and walking around outside in the freezing cold, we were definitely ready for a relaxing dip in Hakone's famous hot springs. We took a long, winding bus ride to our "ryokan" (Japanese style inn) called, "Hana no Yado Fukuya," nestled away in some woods, surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens, and overlooking a picturesque lake. Upon arrival, we were treated like royalty. We were immediately served tea and treats and encouraged to take advantage of the baths. Most ryokans have communal baths, as did this particular one, but we also had a very special room with a private "rotenburo" (outdoor bath).
Most ryokans provide "yukata," as pajamas (a light, cotton kimono). Zer07 had never seen me in a yukata, so he convinced me to dress up in one of the pretty ones the ryokan had to offer:

Zer07 also dressed in the pajamas provided. Our hostess told him he didn't need to wear the "obi" (belt) because he looked like he was about to do some judo, but Zer07 insisted on wearing it this way:

After learning that we were huge anime fans, our hostess brought us some special gifts and proceeded to share a bit of fascinating trivia with us! You may be familiar with the series, "Neon Genesis Evangelion," but did you know that this story is supposed to take place in a real place in Japan? Yes, it takes place in none other than Hakone!

(Map shows where Nerv Headquarters is located as well as all the other key locations in the story.)

Our hostess then proceeded to serve us an elegantly arranged 10 course traditional Japanese dinner! I should have taken pictures of the beautiful and delicious food!! (>o<) I ate fugu (blow fish) for the first time, and survived! It was such a special treat to stay at Hana no Yado Fukuya. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was relaxing. I hope to visit this ryokan again sometime!!

The next day we were served a wonderful traditional breakfast, then we left Hana no Yado Fukuya to go explore Hakone Sekisho. Hakone Sekisho was a border checkpoint located along the main road between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. One of the main roles of Hakone sekisho was to control 'incoming guns and outgoing women', which means to prevent weapons from being brought into Edo and wives and children of feudal lords from fleeing from Edo.
Feeling rejuvenated from the hot springs, we moved on to Tokyo...

(to be continued...)

Check out the previous chapters of Adventures in Japan:
Part 1

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