Lake Ashi in Hakone (Ashi-no-ko,芦ノ湖)

Lake Hakone is not only famous for the numerous Onsen resorts in the vicinity but also for its ferry ships, which look like some kind of pirate vessel! The ferry takes you across lake Ashinoko linking Motohakone, Hakone and the ropeway at Togendai. Our hotel was very close to the Togendai cable car station and lake Hakone, which is also very popular among fishermen as we observed on that rainy day!

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Mount Hakone

Mount Hakone is a popular resort area due to the presence of hot baths (onsen) and the proximity to the Tokyo area. Many trains and express link Tokyo to the region. We took the cable-car to the summit of Mt Hakone on a rainy day but enjoyed nevertheless the experience. A very popular dish on mount Hakone is the black egg (Kuro-tamago) cooked in a thermal pool right on the mountain flank. Also, don’t miss the delicious black ramen!

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Gion in the evening

The Gion district is one of the best places to see Geisha and Maiko. On this particular visit, I did not see any Geisha on the street so I made my way to the Yasaka Shrine. This area of Kyoto is well known for its nightlife with restaurants and Izakayas.

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Too late for Kyoto Tower! (Kyōto-tawā,京都タワー)

I wanted to go to Kyoto tower in the evening in the hope to get a nice view of the city by night but I was unfortunately 4 minutes late to buy my ticket. (Closed at 9:30 I think!). I ended up walking around the tower and the train station, Kyoto-Yodobashi.

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Yasaka shrine by night (Yasaka-jinja,八坂神社)

I stumbled upon this shrine while walking in Gion, the famous district where one can observe Geishas in Kyoto. I was definitely impressed by the atmosphere created by all the lanterns. I really recommend to visit if you happen to be around, especially in the evening.

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Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen is a small village located in Nagano prefecture. It is a very popular onsen and ski resort. There are about twenty public onsen (hot bath) in the village and they are free to use. Each has different temperature and chemical properties. You can get a stamp book and collect stamps from every onsen, each has a unique illustration. I was told that at one of those Onsen the water temperature is close to the boiling temperature of water (the water is at 95C)! If you do not fear warm water, a trip to Nozawa Onsen is a relaxing and enjoyable experience!

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