[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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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 😉
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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|Our room at the Sengokuhara Shinanoki Ichinoyu ryokan|
The private in-room onsen bath is a very enjoyable experience.
|A private onsen, what a treat!|