Hakone: Owakudani and Venetian Glass Museum

Framing flowers…brilliant!

After our wonderful breakfast, it was time to check-o out-o.  No, the “o’s” are not meant to be annoyingly cutesy.  Japanese has a lot of foreign words that they Nihongo-ize the pronunciation.  This can sometimes be a dangerous thing since it occasionally makes me feel like I know more Japanese than I do.  For example, picture me swimming.  Then the conversation uses actual Japanese words.  Help! Help!  I’m drowning!

Such an amazing place!  Hakone Venetian Glass Museum

We drove to the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum.  I was a woman obsessed.  The grounds were so beautiful.  I couldn’t get over it.  I took a lot of pictures that didn’t do it justice and just marveled at how gorgeous it was.  We also toured through the museum, which wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the highlight for me.  It is pretty amazing, though, how these super delicate glass pieces have last a few centuries and transport from Europe to Japan.

After tearing myself away from the museum, we were off to find Owakudani (大涌谷 lit. “Great Boiling Valley), a volcanic fissure with sulfur vents and hot springs where they boil hard-boiled eggs with amazing powers of adding longevity to a person’s life (statement not FDA approved).  SMS had seen the building from our ryokan and thought it looked really cool.  Since this was his first time to Hakone, he got to pick the itinerary.  Not that I minded, I just didn’t have super-strong feelings about what to do.

If I were 10, I’d make a fart joke.  Oh well, I’m older.  Sulfur springs, PEE YEW, HAHAHA!!!

We parked near Gora station and took the Hakone Tazon Cable Car up to the Ropeway station at Sounzan.  We bought round-trip tickets for the entire ropeway and headed off.

Excuse me Sir, where are the chickens?

At Owakudani, we hiked about 1 km to the site where the eggs are boiled.   SMS spotted the mini-ropeway used to shuttle the eggs back and forth from the site to the main building at the ropeway terminal.  I was hoping to see the wild chickens of the sulfur vents but they apparently do not exist.  Or do they?

After looking at the springs and smelling the fresh sulfur-tinged air, we walked back to the main building and had ramen for lunch.  It was tasty although not in the top three I’ve ever had.  Then we went back on the ropeway and took it to Togendai on the shores of Lake Ashi.  We saw the tourist line cruises ships that look like pirate ships but we headed back via the ropeway since we had our car.

This is the first time I took a car to Hakone and although it was great for getting to the ryokan (iPhone map app, not so much), I prefer using public transportation in the area.  I’ve done a day trip several times in the past and part of the fun is the different modes of transport- train, bus, cable car, rope way and pirate ship!  Also, the traffic was really heavy along the shore from Zushi to Enoshima.  Since the focus of this trip was an out-of-the-way ryokan, the car was perfect but for most trips, I’d recommend the Hakone Freepass, which really pays for itself.

We drove back to Yokosuka, which was much smoother since we didn’t have anywhere to be.  When we arrived, we decided that although we had had a wonderful anniversary weekend already, we would go out to a fancy dinner to top it all off.  I was in the mood for a French restaurant and our research turned up Hananoya, an amazing French Restaurant.  We didn’t take any pictures of the food because sometimes it’s just not the time or place, but we had the most awesome dinner.  It was essentially a private chef experience since no one else was there.  We both ordered the course set and it was phenomenal.


It started with a vegetable tartine which seemed to be a Japanese-French fusion since the veggies were mushrooms, carrots and baby corn.  It was held together with a gelatin-like binder and wrapped in a border of cabbage leaves.  It sat on a spread of flavored mayonnaise (I love Japan).  Next was a delicious radish soup which had a French onion taste to it.  It was very smooth and rich.  I’m not sure if it was daikon or not but if so, I need to figure out the recipe since I’m currently at a loss as to what to do with daikon.

 Our main course was the red snapper, which came with the best calamari I think I’ve had in my life.  The dish was so good.  SMS and I usually get something different to try more things but last night, we both wanted the snapper and it was the perfect choice.  Finally, there was a trio of small desserts
that were awesome.  My favorite was the thickened crepe base with one strawberry and soybean ice cream.
 At the end, we complimented the chef and said we’d be back, both in Japanese.  That was pretty awesome b/c the look on the waiter’s face was pretty priceless.  His look was basically, “Where the **$&%* did that come from?” because when we were ordering, we really bumbled through with our
Japanese b/c he was sort of mumbling Japanese and English so we had no idea how to respond.  So when we sounded good at the end, he was very surprised.

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