Arriving in Hakone, I was cold, tired, cold, fed up and cold. We had taken the Shinkansen (high speed train) out of Tokyo with all our stuff, planning to leave it in a train station locker for a couple of days while we went into the mountains to our Ryokan. I expected “lockers” like you find in Europe where you are essentially checking your luggage into a giant locker with a person and a 24 hour guard…not the case… not the case. When all we could find were crappy, regular train station lockers, we went to the info center to ask for help. The guy helping us brought us over to the same lockers, and then got really confused when I didn’t want to leave my suitcase in one of them. I expressed that I was worried that someone was going to steal all our shit, and he just… started to laugh. He actually said to me: “there are no thieves here in Japan… if you left your phone right over there no one would touch it unless they were giving it back to you or if it was a police to keep it safe.” Of course I was skeptical and told him we were from New York… more laughter. I locked up my suitcase.
After (yet another) insanely delicious train station lunch, we took a second Shinkansen, then a subway-type train, then a cute little scenic train through the mountains, and THEN a cablecar. I was chilled to the bone because the rain was on and off and the fog was like nothing I had ever seen – you couldn’t make someone out standing three feet in front of you. I was about to lose it when we got off the cablecar and set foot into the most jenky little station (very un-Japan-like), and then had to run through a sideways rain downpour towards a building we hoped was our Ryokan. Luckily, we were right and it was nothing short of MAGICAL. They met us with umbrellas and took our shoes and coats, then we were escorted into the lovely (and sparkling clean!) living room where we were given delicious red bean and green tea. Just with that, they basically made all my dreams come true and from that moment on, Hakone was better than anything I could have imagined.
The open air museum was something I had read about in passing and didn’t have very high expectations for. We didn’t know if we were going to make it over there at all because, sideways rain downpours, but when the sun came out the next afternoon, we ran over to check it out. We were lucky that the weather was nice just long enough for us to have a few perfect hours at what turned out to be one of the most insane museums I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen some museums). It’s definitely a trek to get there, but I would recommend taking a day trip from Tokyo just for this… like actually, it’s that good. Mind. Blown.