Our bus wove up rich hilly landscapes covered in forest shrubbery with roads leading up and winding around heading towards our accommodation. We breathed in the air of Hakone and wondered what awaited us while figuring out where to stop the bus and how to pay.
Once we were at our stop we crossed over to the path that led up to Shinanoki Ichinoyu, our place of residence for the next two nights.
Ichinoyu, a laid-back hotel with a hot spring bathhouse provided elaborate Japanese cuisine for us on both mornings and nights. It included sashimi, tempura, tsukemono (pickled vegetables) and shaba-shaba (hot pots) that we cooked at the table.
Our room was large with high ceilings, tatami (straw matted) floors, kotatsu (low table covered with a heavy blanket and tabletop, with a heat source underneath), and futon beds. Yukatas (a casual version of the kimono), hung from the closets and guests wore them to dinner downstairs or to the onsen (hot spring).
The onsen comprised of an outside and inside area. The tubs were made from Heal Stone with sulfureous spring water in the outside tub, efficient in nerve pain, and alkaline spring water in the inside tub, good for cleansing.
The baths warmed the core and were great in the chilled weather.