Day trip to Otodome and Shiraito falls and to Ice and Wind caves

This is the chronicle of our day trip nearby Hakone. We visited Otodome Falls, Shiraito Falls, the Ice Cave and the Wind Cave. Our day ended in a fine Rotenburo. It was a great day!

[Please excuse any mistakes as English is not our first language. Any corrections will be very welcomed, you can send them to our Facebook page. Thanks!! You can find the Spanish version of this post here.]
Shiraito Falls
Shiraito Falls

[5/03/2015] Waterfalls, caves, Mt. Fuji and (almost) everything else you can find nearby Hakone

We got to Shibuya Station early in the morning. Our destination was Odawara where our rental car was waiting for us. The train ride gave us a chance to see the massive Mt. Fuji from afar.

El monte Fuji visto desde el tren bala
Mt. Fuji seen from a shinkasen

If you want to go from Shibuya to Odawara you can take the Yamanote Line to Shinagawa and then take a Shinkasen Kodama to Odawara. The journey is short, less than an hour, so we got to Odawara at eight o’clock. We got a little bit lost as usual but we found the car rental offices at last.

We booked a car without GPS as we were planning on use our mobile phone as GPS but it turned out that a GPS device was built into the car so we had to pay for it. It’s likely that this is a common feature in most of the cars for rental so keep it in mind when you rent a car in Japan.

Once we had taken care of the paperwork I was ready to drive in Japan for the first time. I already had some experience in driving on the left side since we had a little road trip to Great Ocean Road (Australia) but I couldn’t help having butterflies in my stomach.

Un Nissan Moco, el coche que alquilamos en Japón
Our little shoe box on wheels (Nissan Moco)

We could catch another glimpse of Mt. Fuji while driving on the highway. We thought we would be able to see it much better in Hakone but we were wrong so we are glad we took some pictures from our car.

El monte Fuji visto desde la autopista
Mt Fuji seen from the highway

Otodome (Otodome-no-taki) and Shiraito (Shiraito-no-taki) falls were our first stop. They are located nearby Karuizawa and you can find them easly with GPS. There’s a paid parking lot  just in front of Otodome falls. We are pretty sure that there’s enough parking space in Karuizawa  so you could save the parking fee but we didn’t want to waste time looking for a place to park and then walk back to the waterfalls.

There’s a nice walk from the parking lot to the Otodome falls. It’s not a big waterfall but it’s a fine sight to see.

La catarata Otodome
Otodome Falls
Paseo hasta las cataratas Shiraito desde la catarata Otodome
The walk from Otodome Falls to Shiraito Fallas

Shiraito falls are very near to Otodome falls, you simply have to follow the rest of tourists along a short walk 😉

Las cataratas Shiraito
Shiraito Falls
Las cataratas Shiraito
Shiraito Falls

We took thousands of pictures and enjoyed the waterfalls and its surroundings. Then we went back to our car and we headed to the Ice and Wind caves. They are not far from each other, you can find both in the road to Narusawa. Their opening times are 09:00 – 16:30 and the admission ticket costs 280 yens for each one. The Bat cave is also near but it’s temporary close -or at least it was closed when at that time.

About 1100 years ago, the lava flow from the eruption of Mt. Fuji gradually cooled and shrank, leaving caves where gases escaped. This way, both the Ice and the Wind cave were formed.

We went first to the Ice Cave (Narusawa-hyoketsu). It’s a vertical cave with a lot of ups and downs. The cave forms a loop, so you can follow its path and enjoy its wonders.

Entrada a la Cueva del Hielo
Ice Cave entrance

The Ice Cave was used as a seed storage until the firt half of the 20th century. A wall of stacked ice blocks has been recreated his old use as natural freezer. Inside the cave you can also find an old well used in the age before running water.

Cartel en la cueva de hielo que indica como se usaban los bloques de hielo como refrigeración, en la antigüedad
Ice blocks were sold as indoor refrigeration

Water drips from the cave ceiling and freezes to form huge pillars of ice. Natural ice forms in the winter and lasts until early autumn.

Entrada al Hell's Hole de la Cueva del Hielo de Narusawa
The “Hell Hole”

Some sections of the cave have a very low ceiling, you have to crouch and walk sideways to pass through. There is an ice pond perpetually frozen within the cave, it’s very slippery so be careful.

The Ice Wind is a gently sloping cave in comparison to the Ice cave. It’s also a little bit less interesting but since they are so close, we don’t recommend to skip this cave.

Entrada a la Cueva del Viento, en Fugaku
Wind Cave entrance

There is an ice wall recreated inside the cave by cutting out and stacking natural ice, a method which was used in the times before modern electrical refrigeration. The natural refrigeration kept high-quality seeds fresh and improved their budding. This cave was also used as a storage area for silkworm eggs.

El muro de hielo en el interior de la Cueva del Viento
The ice wall inside the Wind Cave

The Wind Cave surrounding are nicer than the Ice cave ones because it’s located in the middle of a forest. On top of that, there was a lot of snow so it was a beautiful scenery.

We spend the night in the Sengokuhara Shinanoki Ichinoyu hotel, a nice rotenburo that we absolutely recommend for those who are looking for a ryokan experience at a moderate price.

Nuestra habitación en el Sengokuhara Shinanoki Ichinoyu
Our room at the Sengokuhara Shinanoki Ichinoyu ryokan

The private in-room onsen bath is a very enjoyable experience.

Baño de agua termal en el hotel
A private onsen, what a treat!

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