We were getting very traditional in Hakone – we were sleeping in a ryokan on the tatami mats, bathing in hot spring water, having tea ceremonies in our room and sitting on the floor for our meals.
Entering our room at the ryokan inn, there was no bed, just a table set up with hot tea and some nibblies. There was also kimonos and slippers which we were asked to wear to dinner. It was an interesting affair, with all of us trying to keep the kimonos closed as we sat on the floor to eat. That aside, the dinner was divine – there was an array of Japanese delicacies (most of which we didn’t recognise but happy to eat). It was a Japanese degustation so by the time we finished, our bums were numb from sitting on the floor.
Hobbling to the bedroom with pins and needles in our bums and legs, we-rentered our room to see that the “turndown” service had occurred. Our beds (?sleeping bags) were rolled out. Surprisingly we had an extremely comfortable night sleep considering we were sleeping on the floor.
How does one extend their life by 7 years? Easy – boil an egg in the hot springs of Hakone and eat it! Well, not technically boil it yourself. You can purchase eggs that have been boiled in the hot springs! The shells are black but the inside tastes and looks like any other hard boiled egg!
Hot spring baths are very popular here. And the concept definitely took us out of our comfort zone. So much so we opted not to do it. Basically, it requires no clothes whatsoever (that includes no swimming costumes either), and you clean yourself in the showering area first and then enter the communal bath naked with everyone else – men and women are separated of course. We have no doubt that it is very good for you but we didn’t really feel entirely comfortable doing this – yes we sound prudish. However, we found out the water used in the ensuite is also hot springs so we got the experience without all the companions – its so awesome how the water doesn’t get cold quickly!