Monday, 19 January 2015

More from Hakone

Mount Fuji obliged us with the perfect photo opportunity on Sunday morning.   This was the view across Lake Ashi from the Hakone Hotel.

The small Inari shrine was in the hotel garden.  I hid a 5 yen coin there for luck...

Before leaving Hakone-machi, we went along to the reconstructed Hakone checkpoint.  On the street leading up to the gate, we found Maruyama, another famous Hakone yosegi workshop/store.

As well as pieces for sale, they have many vintage masterworks on display, and a workshop area where you can see various stages of making yosegi.

This is the massive bench plane used to cut the yosegi sheets.

New pieces for sale.

 Hakone checkpoint now -

And as it was in the late nineteenth century, around the time that the Fujiya Hotel was built (1877).  Vistors to Japan then saw a very different country to the ultra modern world now.

Luckily, the officials at the Hakone checkpoint decided it was OK to let Glyn continue back to Tokyo...

Another view of Mount Fuji.

As well as the reconstructed checkpoint, there's a small museum.  Unfortunately most of the explanation panels aren't in English, but there's enough to understand the purpose of the checkpoint and how it operated.

There was also a small display of Hakone yosegi woods and techniques.

The most interesting part of the museum for us was the video showing the reconstruction of the checkpoint, especially details like the construction of the cedar shingle roof, with multiple dense layers.

Leaving Hakone.

We went to the Hakone Yosegi museum at Hakone Yumoto on the way back to Tokyo.  It wasn't too easy to find, but it was worth it.  No photography unfortunately, but you can see some of the pieces in their collection via the link.  They had many stunning pieces from the Meiji and Taisho eras.  While these very showy, Victorian-taste cabinets and other items are very over the top by modern standards, the workmanship is amazing.  Everything is kept under strict temperature and humidity controls to preserve the wood.  The yosegi sold in the gift shop has designs not commonly seen in other shops around Hakone and it is worth a visit just for that.  Tip - if you go to the tourist information office at Hakone Yumoto station, they give a 100yen discount voucher against the museum admission price (only a few hundred yen anyway).

They let me take some photos of yosegi in progress in the adjacent workshop.

This is the entrance from the road - not that obvious if you don't know the kanji for yosegi.

From the bus stop ('H' bus for Odawara), it looks like this. It is only two stops out from Hakone Yumoto station.  Turn back towards Hakone Yumoto and go to the traffic lights.

Turn left at the traffic lights (you are following the yellow sign on the post).


The street looks like this.


Keep going to where there is a car parking sign and turn in at the right - this is the front door of their house, not the museum!

Hakone yosegi was originally made using timber from the local forests and today uses many different natural woods.


The bus stop to return to Hakone Yumoto isn't exactly opposite where we got off - you need to walk towards Odawara station and you'll find the return bus stop just after the petrol station.  If you don't want to wait for the next 'H' Tozan bus (so you can use your Hakone Free Pass), the other buses take the Suica card.

We spotted a Daruma on a rock opposite the return bus stop - another landmark to look out for.

The pavements in Hakone Yumoto have yosegi patterns in tiles and every omiyage (souvenir) shop around here has lots of yosegi.

The Odakyu line 'Romance Car' back to Tokyo was so comfortable, I fell asleep...

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