Heading south from Tokyo, towards Nagoya, we stopped in Hakone for one night. Yet another hot spot for tourists, Hakone is most widely known for its picturesque views of Mt. Fiji and its abundance of natural hot springs. However, the chances of actually seeing the infamous image of Lake Ashinoko with Mt. Fuji in the background are quite slim due to weather and poor visibility.
Given its recognition as a prime tourist destination, it came as no surprise that everything from accommodation to the local bus was on the expensive side. What we didn’t know is that Lake Ashinoko is about an hour bus ride out of Hakone and the bus costs a small fortune to ride the distance. For once we let ourselves be pressured into doing ‘the’ touristy-thing in a city and paid the money to bus out to the lake (even though we could tell it was cloudy). Once there, we quickly regretted our decision. Not only was it freezing and windy, but there was practically nothing to do other than walk around in the grey, cold weather or take an over-priced boat ride on the grey, cold lake…. Needless to say, we got on the next bus back and returned to our cozy hostel.
Luckily for us, we were staying in a beautiful, pristine new hostel: K’s House Hakone. The hostel is located about a 15 minute walk from the train station and boasts being the only hostel in Japan which has an outdoor onsen (natural hot spring). The capsule-style dormitory beds were incredibly comfy and private and we even got a double bed capsule to share. The common area was one of the best I’ve seen in a hostel – it was a blend of modern comfort and traditional Japanese style furniture and decor and had plenty of space for all the guests. The beautiful mountain views from the common area and outdoor terrace were an added bonus!
There is an indoor and outdoor onsen in the hostel and the posted hours assign one to women and one to men as bathing suits are not worn. After we cooked a delicious dinner in the hostel’s fully equipped kitchen, I took an evening dip in the outdoor onsen and completely forgot about our failed afternoon adventure. I was even able to sneak a few pictures during a brief period where I was the only one in the bath. (Note that the seated showers are traditional style but the hostel has full Western-style showers on the dormitory floors for guests.)