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3-Day Model Trip Day2

Fuji Hakone and Izu

3-Day Model Trip Day2 / Fuji Hakone and Izu / Togendai (Kojiri) - sightseeing around the Lake Ashinoko - Mishima - Shuzenji

Next day, I walked to the Kojiri Pier at 5 minute walk from Togendai Station. There are two routes for the pleasure boats on the Lake Ashino-ko. One course starts from the Togendai Pier to Moto-Hakone in Hakone-machi, and the other leaves the Kojiri Pier, stops at Moto-Hakone and goes on to the Hakone Checkpoint Site. Boats look like a Scandinavian Galley or an American side-wheel steamer in the pioneers' times sail in the former course, and a twin-hull passenger boats that offer fine views for the other course. I took the course that stops at Hakone-en where the station for the ropeway is located to climb Mt. Komagatake. The Lake Ashino-ko is a crater lake formed by damming of the Haya-kawa River at the eruption around 3,000 years ago. The circumference is about 20 km, and it is shaped like a gourd with a narrow waist at the north-central part. When my boat was about to approach the narrow pass, a small red torii gate(shrine gate) appeared in my sight. The legend has it that when a Buddhist high priest Mangan-Shonin tied up a poisonous dragon, the lord of the lake, to the lakebed to calm the raging lake, the poisonous dragon transformed itself into a dragon deity with nine heads, and it has been enshrined here. The lake is calm today probably because this Kuzuryu-myojin, or nine-headed dragon deity is protecting us.

I got off the pleasure boat at Hakone-en pier. The Hakone-en Garden is a large amusement park with an aquarium, simulation theaters and other entertainment, and is located across from the Mt. Komagatake Ropeway Station. I got on the gondola, and after 7 minutes of viewing the Lake Ashino-ko below, I arrived at the mountaintop. Mt. Komagatake with the altitude of 1,357 m is one of the crater cones formed by the last volcanic activities of Hakone. As it stands alone, it is famous for a wonderful view from the top. When I stood on the view spot, the sight took my breath away. Beyond the Lake Ashino-ko, I saw the Hakone Gairin Mountains stretching to the Izu-hanto Peninsula at the center, and the Suruga Bay on the right and the Sagami Bay on the left. Sacred Mt. Fuji was behind me. It was a 360 degrees of spectacular panorama. A small sanctuary of the Hakone-motomiya Shrine believed to have been built some 2,400 years ago attests to the history that this spot has been a sacred ground for mountain worship since early times.

I got off the ropeway and headed toward the former Hakone Checkpoint Site by a pleasure boat. Checkpoints were established by the Tokugawa Shogun Government in the Edo Period about 400 years ago. The objective was to control the traffic of the travelers to defend and maintain security of the capital city Edo. The Hakone Checkpoint was located where all travelers between Edo and the Western Japan had to pass. It was known to be the most strict checkpoint among 50 other similar facilities. The Checkpoint Museum displayed the "threatening mask", which was hung from the eaves to threaten the travelers in order to emphasize the authority of the Checkpoint. At this museum, we can also see the checkpoint logs and travelers' necessities in the Edo Period and learn the situations of those days. The Imperial Gift Hakone-koen Park adjacent to the Hakone Checkpoint Museum is located on the Tokashima-hanto Neck. An imperial villa for Emperor Meiji stood here once, but the western style building collapsed at the Great Earthquake of 1923. Today, a lakeside observation hall is built here in the similar design to the imperial villa's. As the name indicates, the scenery of the Lake Ashino-ko viewed from the balcony on the second floor is truly picturesque. Cherry trees, hydrangeas and other trees and plants that bloom in different seasons are planted inside the park with the area of 170,000 m2. As I climbed down the stone steps called Nihyaku-kaidan, or two hundred steps, I found myself on the shore of the Lake Ashino-ko.

On the other side of Route 1 from the Imperial Gift Hakone-koen Park, an old highway lined with cedars stretches for about 800 meters. It is said that those trees were planted to provide shades for the travelers around the time the Hakone Checkpoint was established. As I walked toward Moto-Hakone along the Route 1, I saw the Ichino-torii or the first torii gate to the Hakone Shrine. As I continued my path along the lakeside, I came closer to the Heiwa torii, or peace torii gate. This big torii gate can be seen well from the other side of the lake. I climbed up the stone steps surrounded by thickly growing huge cedar trees. As it is an old shrine built over 1,250 years ago, it possesses the oldest portraits and sculptures in the Kanto Region, a 13th century caldron and many other cultural assets, as well as historic sites that had close relations with the samurai generals in the spotlights of the history. I bought a fortune telling card at the sanctuary painted in red. The fortune telling card came with a small charm. I faced the main sanctuary, and thanked for being able to visit Hakone blessed with beautiful natural scenery and rich historical culture, and prayed for safety in the rest of my trip.

I returned from the Hakone Shrine to the Moto-Hakone Pier, and got on the bus to Mishima Station. From there, I got on Izu-Hakone Tetsudo that runs south to the center of the Izu Peniusula, and got off at the terminal Shuzenji. The Shuzenji-onsen Hot Spring Resort where I was going to stay that night has a history of 1,200 years, and a representative resort of the Central Izu. The spring water contains weak common salt which should help heal neuralgia and gastronomic illnesses. It would also heal my fatigue from the trip.