Haya River – Japan Hakone (箱根町)
The countryside of Japan is where you will find true peace and connection with nature. The sound of spring water falling from the deep forest via those river steps creates a sense of calm.
Hakone is known to be a famous Onsen town nearest to metropolis Tokyo. There are direct trains connecting Hakone to central Tokyo in about 1.5 hours or by car in about 1 hour and 10 mins.
The best way to experience this town is to book an authentic Onsen hotel and stay for 1 night or 2. Try to find one which is a bit far from the station, that way it will not be too crowded with tourists and you will surely be seeing more local Japanese visiting for a short break from their busy world. Hakone is known for one of the most relaxing weekend getaway spots for locals.
Off the main train station, there is a strip of restaurants, souvenir and coffee shops at the main street. You can easily spend half a day here to buy some local goodies and eat their famous tofu-based noodles or Bentos. Beware of waiting time if you find top-rated restaurants, recommended to go early.
Japanese coffee is famous for its silky smooth texture, aromatic and easy to drink, inside the coffee shops they never rush you to leave even though the shop is busy. Can sit around with a book/kindle and catch up on some quiet times.
Onsen hotels usually provide full course dinner and breakfast, they can either be served in your room or at the restaurant inside the hotel (depending on your choice of the hotel). The menu are often traditional Japanese style with lots and lots of dishes on the table, you will feel very full after the full course, Japanese Wagyu Beef (grilled or shabu shabu) or fresh crab meat will be the top choices if you have been given a chance to pick. Don’t forget to change into the traditional Japanese Kimono Jinbei (pajamas) provided, you can wear it all around the hotel and restaurants the moment you arrive til you check out.
The Onsens can be outdoor or indoor, private or shared. Try to find ones with outdoor baths facing the forest or waterfall. A hot bath with nature is a true experience to enjoy, especially during cold wintertime with snow falling from the skies, nothing can compete for stress relieve and self-reflection time.