I had a darned rough start. "Anything before noon isn't
late." But 2:15??!!
I was up at 7:30, did laundry, and checked out of the ryokan.
The landlady gave me a "gift towel" as a farewell
present--fitting, as I had lost one on the road yesterday. (These
are long face towels, widely used for wiping sweat.)
I lugged my bag to the station, and headed for Numazu. Here's
the plan: Yesterday I stopped at Moto-Hakone, by the shores of Ashinoko
Lake. I took a bus back to Odawara, and a train to my room in
Chigasaki. So today, I'll take a train to Numazu, stash my bag at
the station, and catch a bus up the other side of the mountain back to
Moto-Hakone, then walk down.
Simple, right? But past Odawara, the train often lays over to
let expresses pass. So a 70-minute ride took over 100. Then
the bus up the hill took another hour and a half.
So at 2:15, I reached Moto-Hakone. But what a GREAT day after
Hakone is beautiful, and there are plenty of sights to see, from
Hakone Shrine to castle ruins to stone Buddhas. But I'm a pilgrim,
not a tourist (!). So I gotta walk.
Hakone is not only beautiful, but weird. Although it's a
traditional resort dating back centuries, it is loaded with kitsch.
Where else in Japan will you see a sternwheeler and a scene straight out
of Baja California?
I walked some more ishidatami, this part damaged by the
typhoon last week. The road goes through a beautiful suginamiki,
a cedar-lined walk.
My first stop was the famous seki-sho or Hakone Barrier.
This guard station marked the dividing line between Kanto (literally the
area East of the Barrier) and the central portion of Japan, which
eventually becomes Kansai (the area West of the Barrier). This
shot shows an original wall of the Barrier station.
This being Saturday, the museum at the Barrier was quite crowded, so I
din't go in. Instead, I got a shot of this guy playing shamisen, a
traditional three-stringed instrument.
And here is my official shot for the Hakone
station, with the museum and Barrier gate behind me, and not too many
The road follows the lakeshore for awhile, past tourist traps and
sightseeing buses. Then it turns off and--I didn't see a soul
until I rejoined the vehicle road near the Pass.
I finally got an elevated view of the lake; yesterday's walk
was so shrouded in trees and clouds that I never got a good view.
At Hakone Pass (called here a "ridge") I
entered Shizuoka Prefecture--only my third this trip, after Tokyo and
I want you to see the kanji (Chinese character) for
"pass." The left-hand element is "mountain."
The two right-hand elements are "up" and "down"
respectively. So a pass is a place where you go up and down a
(By the way, you'll need to be Japanese-enabled to see this. If
your browser is Explorer, check View, Encoding to see if you have a
Japanese pack. If not, write
to me and I'll tell you how to get one--free!)
Hakone, Station #10 on
the Old Tokaido
Here we see Hakone Pass--and it's
crowded. As I mentioned, I saw no one on this path.
But as it was Saturday, there were plenty of cars on the vehicle road.
Hiroshige has clearly exaggerated the mountain here; I saw nothing to
From the "ridge" down is a
beautiful, well-maintained walk. The city of Mishima has
really done a great job of marking the trail. It's ishidatami
most of the way. (See yesterday's
Logbook if you don't know what ishidatami is.) The path was
littered with stones, markers, and monuments. I've collected them
Words and Pictures
I hoped to reach Yamanaka Castle
ruins before nightfall. I did, but barely. And as I
pulled out my camera, it began to rain.
This is a very atmospheric place. I saw no one but
grasshoppers. I've described the castle construction on another Words and Pictures
page; for my feeling, here's a haiku:
once the samurai
held this ground--now there's only
grasshoppers and rain
Next to the castle is a small temple named Soukanji.
I sheltered here for awhile, and said your prayers. I know nothing
about the place, but it was clearly associated with the castle.
I've done a very small Words and Pictures
page (it's a very small
place). What it lacks in size and beauty was more than made up for
by the feelings I had after visiting the castle ruins--and as I faced a
downhill walk on wet ishidatami as it grew dark.
But I made it. The road occasionally joined the vehicle road, and
in the dark I missed one stretch that included an ichirizuka
(according to the map). But I caught the last section of ishidatami,
which started next to a love hotel and ended as someone's driveway!
Then came the worst part: a VERY steep downhill residential vehicle
road. But the end of today's walk was great: a flat, two-lane road
running amongst houses, shops, and temples. At 7:10 I caught the
last bus from Tsukuhara--along that road--to Mishima station, then the
train to Numazu and my hotel.