My birthday weekend in Japan was definitely a unique experience. It’s safe to say that it probably will not be duplicated for the rest of my life (unless I fly back in to Tokyo, of course). We got the entire group of seven together and headed out of the city to the tourist town of Hakone, Japan. Now when I say tourist, I mean local tourist, not international tourist. This place is where many residents of Tokyo come visit to escape their 12 million or so city-dweller neighbors. Our method of transportation was none other than the Shinkansen Express- also known as the Bullet Train.
A quick hour on the Bullet Train and we were in the sleepy little town of Hakone. Unfortunately for us, the weather didn’t want to agree on making it a nice weekend. After visiting a few different shrines and temples in the area, cold rain came down and did it’s best to soak all of us. A bus ride took us to the vicinity of our hotel, where we had another 15 minutes of walking before we finally arrived. Drenched from the pouring rain, we all hit up the hot springs at the hotel and let the warm water soak away all the stresses from a long, transportation-filled day.
The next day we visited the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun “Hotspring Amusement Park & Spa”, which the best way I can describe it as a water park that is mostly made up of themed hot tubs. There were over 50 different types of hot tubs to try out, and, although we didn’t check it out- had a “Undress Zone” where you could go into the different hot springs stark naked. The springs were peculiarly themed to look like coffee, red wine, and even beer.
But the highlight of the day had to go to the waterslide setup on the other side of the park. Despite the weather being in the upper 40s, the hot spring water slide heated you right up after the cold run up to the top. And the place was practically empty when we visited, so no lines! I think Dana and I might have gone on it over 20 times.
After a full day acting like kids, we took a bus and a couple trains back to our residence in Tokyo. I was lucky to have Dan and Ai make me a fantastic sushi birthday dinner and they even opened the bottle of champagne that they received as a wedding present. Other than the weather being a little nicer, it was a great birthday weekend and I couldn’t have asked for more!