Onsen Level Expertise : Outside

We had a bike tour of Hakone booked today. I’d booked this months ago and had been following their Instagram feed and it looked awesome. This tour was the reason we were staying two nights in Gora. Unfortunately with the rain and the prediction of more rain, I received an email telling me the tour was cancelled.

Thus looking for something to do on a wet day, we headed back down to Odawara to check out the castle there, then level up and try a more traditional Onsen somewhere in Hakone.

At Odawara we surveyed for a decent coffee and there wasn’t much, so we settled on one from Tully’s. At least is was from a proper espresso machine. Of course after we have had this and on our way to the castle I walk past a small specialty coffee place that likely had amazing coffee.

Odawara castle was OK, although not a lot of English on the display signage. There was also a samurai display. Lunch was a quick sandwich from a 7-11 like store and we got the train back to Hakone-Yumoto station where there are plenty of traditional hotels with Onsen where you can pay to just use the onsen. We chose one of the better ones which was a 15 min walk from the station. The Hotel was the Hakone-Kamon

At first I thought we might have bitten off more than we could chew as it was difficult to find, we were the only westerners there, no signage at all was in English and hardly anyone there spoke any English. The fact we were given a sheet on Onsen etiquette was both good to make sure we were doing the right thing and bad is that they had no confidence that we knew anything about Onsens (we tried one once yesterday so we must be experts now!)

We had difficulty finding the change rooms as they were not on the same floor as the actual Onsen. Once found the Onsen was amazing. This one had an outdoor Onsen too. Great in the cool rain sitting in the hot water. The water temp was 45c. When we finished the hotel had a shuttle which took us back to the station so we could get a train to Gora. The Onsen cost ¥2500 (500 of that was towel rental).

They will probably be cursing the uncouth westerners for days as most likely we placed the used towels, Yukata etc in all the wrong baskets. This blog might be turning into all about the Onsens given the coffee situation here!

Coffee place we *should* have had coffee