Sengokuhara — The Hakone Loop
The Hakone Loop or Hakone Round Course is a way of seeing the Hakone region via the use of a Free Pass (like a day ticket) that covers the five different methods of transport needed to see all the main attractions of the area. We had the idea that this would be our way of seeing a more 'wild' version of Japan compared to the major cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka that we'd seen. From our ryokan in Hakone town, we could walk to Hakone-Yumoto station with no trouble.
During our entire Japan trip this was the only time that we got up at a 'normal' time. Partly because our breakfast was served in our room so we couldn't bring ourselves to ask them to prepare it for our usual breakfast hours, and also because certain parts of the loop didn't operate before given time.
So we spent the day in queues with everyone else, waiting to go from train to tram to cable-car to pirate ship (yes, you read that right) and finally the bus. We saw Mount Fuji a million times and that was pretty special, and the landscape around us was beautiful, but all the noise and the pushing and shoving from other less spatially-aware tourists really grated on us.
Salvation came at the end of the day in the form of a field of susuki or (Miscanthus sinensis) called Sengokuhara. The golden grass sits on the side of Mount Hakone and in the closing hours of the day that we visited, seemed to glow and was precisely what we needed. In retrospect (and perhaps in a very poetic sense) we had felt just like that grass, pushed backwards and forwards and bumbled in any-which-way with the crowd. Watching the wind blow over it was mesmeric and I feel lucky to have seen it, even though it is just a field full of grass.
We also made a short video of our trip to Japan, click here to check it out