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Keio Exchange - Hakone

While on the Keio Exchange, one of my favourite experiences was going to Hakone. Hakone is a countryside town near Mount Fuji which is only about a 2-hour ride West from Tokyo. It is often referred to as the town of hot springs, and it isn’t hard to see why. The town has many volcanoes nearby, it is able to host many naturally heated hot springs for the people to bathe in. The hotel that we stayed in was called “Paipu no Kemuri”, which literally translates to “The Smoking Pipe”. To compliment the name, the hotel has many smoking pipes jutting from its side, visible to everyone who passes by. The accommodation was in Gora, a small part of Hakone set on a steep mountainside, and we had to take an old train which slowly climbed up the mountain.
 
We visited two museums, of which one was the “Hakone Open Air Museum”. I enjoyed it a lot because of the atmosphere; fresh air mixed with amusing statues and a great view of the misty mountains. However, my favourite part of the trip was definitely the hot springs. At first, we found it very weird to be bathing in the same water with other naked people, but we slowly got used to it over time. Apparently, the water of the hot spring we stayed at was slightly higher than average, but it didn’t make too much of a difference. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing activity, and I truly believe that, if I had the time, I could stay in the water forever. 
 
By Thomas Li