The Shinkansen to Odawara and then Hakone, by bus
|The torii in Lake Ashi|
We took the Shinkasen (bullet train) to Odawara. It was an exhilarating trip! The train reaches 200 mph, but is so smooth, you feel like you are barely moving. The main attraction in Odawara is its Castle. An impressive white-and-black structure on a hill. It was an easy walk from the station. The castle is surrounded by a splendid moat. The Castle dates from before 1400 AD. The interior is a museum and the roof -top is open with a view of the sea.
|The castle had a fine display of samurai armour|
From the Odawara Station, we consulted with the very helpful information office and bought tickets for the bus for Hakone. It was a breathtakingly beautiful drive through the mountains. Many of the towns along the way are famous for their inns and hot springs. Hakone sits on Lake Ashi and there is a view of Mt. Fuji. We visited the Shinto shrine there. The lake is rumored to be the home of seven dragons and there is a fountain with seven dragons charged with dispensing water to those who wish to purify themselves before praying at the shrine. The torii , ritual gate, is in the lake, itself and makes for a beautiful backdrop for photos.
This is an area I would definitely visit again. The natural beauty is overwhelming. I wish we had stayed in an inn, enjoyed an onsen (hot spring) and spent several days.
|A small shrine within the Hakone religious center|
|Wash your hands and rinse your mouth before praying! The dragons are watching!|
|The torii seen from across the lake|