The hour drive to Lake Hakone was a fun one. Me, Ayano, and Mai all got to ride in Matsuba-San’s car. We laughed a lot to say the least. It made for a great memory driving through the lush forests and steep mountain landscape as we descended into the basin of Lake Hakone. We caught the “Hakone Roapway Cable Car” to the top of the surrounding peaks that overlook the lake. I was surprised to learn that they were mining sulfur in the hot spring sources up in the mountains. It stank badly at times but the view was awesome! We ate fun Onsen Tamago, or hardboiled eggs cooked in the hot springs water, dying them dark black.
After the Ropeway we went down to the lake and took a giant ship decorated like an Old Spanish Galleon across the deep blue waters of the mountain lake. Ayano had bought bubble mix and we blew bubbles off the back of the ship for a while, taking lots of pictures together along the way. Still the best was yet to come as we disembarked and drove into the mountains to an awesome Onsen water park called Yanessansu Spa.
There was a fun waterslide and outdoor area where we spent quite a while swimming and having fun, but the real highlight of the day was a series of ofuros (hot tubs) each with a different theme. The first was very salty and you could float easily on your back in it. The second was coffee themed, and there was actual coffee mixed into the water. Then came wine, with just a bit of real wine in it, the water was a dark purple color and it even included an enormous wine bottle fountain pouring into it. Next was green tea and there was genuine green tea leaves soaked into the bright green water. After that came a real laughing point, a Sake hot tub with an actual stream of sake dripping into it that bathers were able to scoop up and sample.
The rest of the hot tubs were charcoal, rock and Goemon themed. The last is named after an ancient thief who was boiled to death after being caught. It was by far the hottest of the pools and us poor Gaijin foreigners couldn’t stand it too long.
In the evening we went out to a VERY nice Chinese restaurant where we were served a delicious community style 10-course meal. It even included expensive shark fin soup. We had a great time, the group really gets along well and the Rotarians are treating us royally. I’m really having a wonderful time here, I can't believe I’ve only been here two days now, I already feel like I’ve done so much.