For people living in Tokyo, the easiest one night trip option is always Hakone. Hakone is in Kanagawa prefecture, which is south of Tokyo prefecture. From central Tokyo, there are express trains called "Romance Cars" to take you there and just within an hour, you get to a place where you can enjoy all the lovely mountains, rivers, a big lake with Mt Fuji view and soothing onsen (hot springs) .
|view from our ryokan|
My dad wanted to go there with us, so my mum and I did a lot of research for ryokan (Japanese style hotel). We didn't want to spend too much money but wanted somewhere that offered good food and a kid-friendly environment. Ryokans usually offer two meals - dinner and breakfast - so when you choose a hotel with good rooms but bad food, it affects your whole trip! After some research, we booked "Aura Tachibana". They have two types of rooms, western style room with a bed and Japanese style room with Tatami mat and futon - we booked the Japanese style rooms which were much cheaper.
Usually in a Japanese style room, they keep futon in a cupboard, so kids can run around in a big space. The only thing you need to be careful with kids is shouji and fusuma - washi paper screen sliding doors. But even if your kids accidentally run into them and tear them, it doesn't cost much for hotels to fix them (because they are paper! ) and also harmless for your kids compared with glass doors.
While you're having dinner in a common dining room (some ryokans let you have dinner in your room), staff come to your room and put your futon out, ready for you to sleep. With a futon, we didn't have to worry about Nico falling from a bed!
Aura Tachibana was in Hakone Yumoto where the Romance cars arrive. It's a bit busier than other parts of Hakone, but the volcano around Mt Fuji has become more active from last year and some parts are closed for tourists, so my dad wanted to stay somewhere easy to evacuate in case of emergency. It's 15 mins walk from the station, but they'll come to pick you up from the station by a little bus.
|we walked around the ryokan and fond a nice temple|
They had a lovely lounge where you can read cool books and magazines and have coffee/alcohol. With Nico, we couldn't really use that place, but they also have a lovely balcony space, so we took Nico there.
We went there on a weekday, so there weren't that many guests. When we went to their public hot spring bath after dinner, no one was there in both ladies bath and gentleman's bath (well Paul told me about gentleman's bath ) so we enjoyed a huge bath just by ourselves. Paul worried that he might have had to have a bath with my dad, but my dad went to the bath before dinner, so it was ok;-)
Dinner and breakfast were very lovely. Dinner was course-style and took a while so Nico got bored (his meal came soon but he had to wait for us) so one of us had to take him out to a balcony and play with him in turns, but it was good that there was a space for that.
|common dining area|
|lovely dinner- wagyu beef!!|
|we liked all the presentation|
Some people go to the bath in the morning too to make the most of it - a trip to Hakone usually has the whole of relaxing in the hot springs, but Paul and I chose to relax in our room. Our stay at the ryokan was really great and even with a busy little boy we could have a relaxing time. Japan trips with kids wouldn't be easy, but if you want to have some relaxing time, I do recommend this little Hakone trip.
|Paul having a relaxing time|
Next time I will write about what we did in Hakone.