Hakone Machiko

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For our second whole day in Hakone we first headed to the Hakone Glass Museum. It’s more so the atmosphere that has been created rather than the glass that makes this place appealing. It’s heavily inspired by European architecture and you can find crystal trees placed amongst natural ones, ducks in the ponds, a creek surrounded by trees tainted by the koyo season and cute little hidey holes with small exhibitions.

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Afterwards we headed to where fields of Susuki Grass lay between a mountain of forests and a small town. It was quite a sight to behold and despite the typical image of a farmer cowboy thing with this type of weed sticking out of his teeth popping into my head… these susuki grass would only be able to floss between a giant’s teeth. They were so tall!

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Here the rain finally started to fall and we were bummed that we forgot to bring our umbrellas with us. We were even more bummed as it meant those foggy skies would tease Mt Fuji back into hiding.

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And our worries were granted.. once we got to Lake Ashi, Mt Fuji was nowhere in sight. But we still caught that pirate boat from the top to the bottom of Lake Ashinoko. Why it is a pirate boat, I have no idea… some great idea of a tourism company. I just had to do the photo in black and white to get rid of the Cheesy McCheese Cheese.

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We then arrived at Hakone Machiko.

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We then arrived at the start of the old Hakone checkpoint. It’s a replica now (which they actually did with traditional methods and it took years) but back in the times… perhaps Edo period… my memory has wiped itself now, they filtered who came through the area, what weapons were coming in or out and deterred women and children from escaping. They didn’t quite explain why the women and children wanted to escape but it was mentioned a couple of times…  Anyway it’s purpose was to control traffic along the old Tokaido highway which was the route between Tokyo and Kyoto.

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However before we got to the dark and gloomy part, there were many shops with traditional craftsmen making the Hakone tradition of marquetry. It all started as Hakone had a great variety of trees with different colours and properties. They first joined big pieces into patterns by glue and then planed thin sheets of it to inlay into a wooden box. They’re slightly expensive but it’s because they are also puzzle boxes. Depending on how many steps it took, the prices went up higher. There was one box that took 125 steps before you could open it. CRAZY! The man was very sweet and gave James and I example sheets to keep.

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They built this whole place based on plans and evidence that showed them exactly how the structure was. I was also wondering why the people were kept so bare as it was unlike the Japanese to keep things so bland. I later read up that they kept them plain as they had no evidence or ideas of how they dressed, colours and style and wanted to avoid painting a wrong image into people. I really respected that.

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We then walked to the old cedar avenue which was used a long long time ago as a highway and was recently reconstructed at the same time as the checkpoint. It gave off fairytale Studio Ghibli vibes.. for those who know any of the movies I just kept imagining Princess Mononoke scenes.

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The trees were gorgeous and behemoth. I felt like an ant. But the sun was also quick to sign off for the day so we had to get rushing for the bus. The sun goes down so quick at this time of year in Japan. No joke, around 4pm in the afternoon.

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We went home for our dinner curfew where we enjoyed a boiled bream. At first we were like… yeaaaah looks fun but…… eh. But once we actually took a bite, the sauce had a great balance of sweet and salty. We really enjoyed our meal.

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I told James that he had to experience public bathing on our last night so I forced him into the steaming den of old men while I enjoyed mine with ladies that had laser eyes on me casting judgment or curiosity, I have no idea haha.

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