Riding the Trains and Running the Hills Around Japan

Today we explored around the Hakone area which is an actual ancient volcano. It is a traditional Japanese resort area with hot springs and classic hotels with futon beds. Surprisingly they are very comfortable.

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We took a gondola ride over the area but it was very foggy and rainy, so limited views. We did take a nice hike up to the hot springs to check out the minor hot geysers and enjoy the fresh sulfur air 🙂

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The local delicacy is the “black eggs” that are cooked in the hot springs.  Eating one will extend your life by 7 years…

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Our hotel in Hakone was quite pleasant, but it did not have a fitness room (gym) to work out. On the first day, I explored the hilly area and got in a nice 10K run.  The calves were a little sore after going down the hills and running back up 1,000+ feet!

Hills of Hakone

The next day was a different story. The rain was pouring down and I did not want to wade through huge puddles on the steam hills. Our solution: use the stairs of the hotel as a stair climber. Put on a good podcast on your Zune and the time flies away. The other trick is to pack resistance tubing for arm/weight exercises. You can attach the device to a door and have great resistance training when no gym is available…and it takes almost no space in your luggage 🙂

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This morning, we took our first bullet train west on the yellow line. They are very efficient and comfortable. We were told that the average delay for a given train is less than 36 seconds a year and it has been over 20 years since the last human injury/death. They really know how to run a massive transit system here in Japan. Interesting statistic, a 1 hour bullet train ride is approximately $100.

While waiting for the 10:08 train, we took a few minutes to check out the nearby castle that was built about 400 years ago. They were getting ready for a local festival since it is Golden Week.

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We switched to a little more of a traditional train later as the bullet train service is limited in Japan. In switching to our next 3-hour travel segment, like many, we purchased a Bento box (and local beer) to eat on the train for lunch. Very efficient, convenient and tasty.  Yes, Japanese beer goes well with sushi!

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The most interesting difference in this leg was the fact that at half way through the journey, the train changes direction and accordingly, the direction the seats faced. It was pretty cool that in Japan, you can swivel the seats in different directions in a few seconds so you don’t have to be uncomfortable in facing backward.

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