Monday, July 8, 2013

Old Tokaido Road

Hakone, Japan (May 30, 2013)

The last leg of our lake Ashi tour was on foot. Yumiko told us about the old Tokaido road, a road lined with tall cedar trees that was used to travel to Edo from the Hakone checkpoint. Parts of the road are still preserved, and one can go all the way from the checkpoint to Hatajuku, a two hours steep walk. It was too late for the whole hike (the volcano hike in Owakudani was enough for the day), but we decided nevertheless to walk along the easy part of the road from the checkpoint to Moto-Hakone, running parallel to the shore of the lake. The photo above is about typical for this part of the road, even though it does not effectively render how impressive these trees are: I tried to hug one of them and there is no way. You need at least two or three persons to match the circumference of these enormous trees. From Moto-Hakone onward the road is paved by rough stones (the road was made for walking, not for carts). We didn't try that part of the road, so I refer you to +Rurousha  and her walk. I didn't see any yamamba, btw, only many flowers like the one on the left (crested iris japonica). From Moto-Hakone we got the bus back to the onsen, given that we needed to get back in time for dinner. Dinner at the onsen is something you absolutely do not want to miss! Murata sensei, the ryokan chef, is a true artist, and his dinners (and full breakfast) are pieces of art. Each dish is a treat, not just for the taste, but also for the sight. The dinner is a progression in which you are hand-held in an adventure involving all your senses. The only problem with experiencing Murata sensei dinners is that we got very spoiled and could not enjoy as much the food we had for the rest of our trip. Take note: if you plan to stay in a ryokan with a famous chef, leave it for the end of your trip!

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