|It was a very scenic hobble, though.|
After we packed up and left, carrying our huge backpacks, we caught a train to the start of our hiking destination, Odawara Station.
|*giggle* *giggle* romance car *giggle* *giggle*|
|There was a slight drizzle in the morning, but that was all just water under the bridge.|
|Walking in tunnels always gives me that nice, warm, being-evacuated-due-to-a-zombie-outbreak kinda feeling.|
|Smatterings of suburbia.|
|Soba water not pictured.|
The walk was mostly uneventful, but surprisingly quick. We got about 60 percent of the way in the first hour. It seems that walking is a lot faster when you are walking through nice scenery and don't have to do it in time while singing a lot of stupid songs which are supposed to take your mind off it and build cameraderie but actually just tire you out more. We travelled through a lot of suburban neighbourhoods, and by train tracks, and past a lot of interesting flora, and another young backpacking couple going the other way.
|Young backpacking couple who waved back at us not pictured.|
|And trains. Quiet trains which trundle by without the freaky smiling faces on the front.|
|This is the kind of neighbourhood I would love to have grown up in. |
(Because it's in Japan, is what I'm saying.)
|I really wanted to know what carps have to do with earthquakes.|
|Canals are just so much more beautiful in Japan.|
Eventually we reached Hakone Station, and took the train to Gora Station, at the foot of the mountain we were staying on, and then took the cable car up the mountain to Nakagora, somewhere about midway.
|Oh, and Achievement Unlocked: Hike 8 km in a foreign country.|
|This was the first slanted cable car I had ever taken.|
Our Hakone accommodation was a ryokan, a type of traditional Japanese inn, where you sleep in futons and yukatas, can take a dip in the onsen, and eat delicious multi-course dinners. On our way up, the cool mountain air was able to accommodate some of the sakura late bloomers, and the fallen petals covered the road like snow.
|This is going to be the cover of our upcoming album.|
|It's so much easier to fall in love with nature when it's not trying to be muddy at you.|
|The ryokan. Like, snow, literally.|
|Obligatory artistic shot.|
|The peanut dust could, you know, hypothetically, make one choke, if one accidentally inhales it like an idiot. Hypothetically speaking, of course.|
The interlude to dinner was spent watching hilarious Japanese commercials again. It's very ironic that we were flipping channels trying to hunt down the ads instead of avoiding them.
|How else would you enjoy this wonderfully luxurious room?|
|My taste buds thought they had died and gone to heaven.|
We were determined to try the onsen - hot spring - that night, so we got all our bath stuff and waited. It was a communal bath, so each "group" can only go in for an hour or so, and you have to put up the "occupied" sign outside the door. After the quick shower to get clean, I tried dipping my legs into the water. And here's the thing: all my life, I expected hot springs to be mildly warm, like 40 or 50 degrees Celsius, so it would be relaxing like a warm shower. This one was insanely hot, probably around 70 or 80 degrees, hot enough to boil eggs. The feeling, when you leave your legs in for a while, is that it is so hot that it feels biting cold, like all your nerve endings are just committing suicide from he heat. Bryan said the trick was to immerse yourself into it slowly, bit by bit, so I was sitting there broiling my feet for a couple minutes. Another thing: ripples and water currents make it exponentially worse, so when XM was done with his bath and stuck his legs in, the water movement scraped across my roasted nerve endings and made them commit suicide again. In the end, though, I managed to immerse my whole body - up to my neck - into the natural cooking pot. For about five minutes. Then I couldn't take it, and climbed out.
Two things I learned: Bryan said that the intense heat could swell the blood vessels and make you feel light-headed, and that his friend had fainted when they had tried it the week before he met us. I think that would be the natural response to being cooked alive. The second thing I learned: the convenient steam censorship you see in anime has very strong basis, but it doesn't work well enough in real life. After the scalding, I drank a can of cold coffee, just like how I was taught in To Aru no Majutsu no Index.
Oh, and Achievement Unlocked: Cook yourself.