As part of our sunrise tour we stayed overnight in a Western style hotel with onsen. I had one tattoo at that point in time and knew they were not permitted in the onsen. So, naughtily, we woke up super early and went an enjoyed the onsen before anyone else was up, to avoid offending those who disapprove of tattoos. It was a really beautiful outdoor onsen, and as the storm poured down, we were warm and cozy in the hot mineral waters.
Another perk of our tour was that we had a two day pass to the Hakone area to enjoy the cable cars, boat rides and buses. Sadly, the storm was severe which meant all cable cars etc. were shut due to the weather. We had shinkansen tickets booked back to Tokyo that evening from Odawara and so we just decided to head there, on what I called the death bus.
I called it the death bus as I have never experienced such erratic driving on such mountainous roads! The photo above is taken from the bus window on the edge of a ravine… still speeding in the storms. Luckily we arrived at Odawara safety and explored the town.
We decided to spend our day around Odawara castle, one of Japans many rebuilt castles. This was my first experience of a Japanese castle (although now I have visited Matsumoto, Himeji and Hikone). It is quite a squat castle, but the best parts are the gardens. In June we were treated to the hydrangea, or in Japanese ajisai, in full bloon. The hydrangea love rain and so this is one of the benefits of visiting Japan during the rainy season.
Odawara castle gardens also have beautiful iris beds, as you can see below. We had missed them in full bloom but the view was still beautiful.
There is a lot to see around Odawara so I’d recommend visiting if you day gets rained away. We hopped on our shinkansen back to Tokyo, just as the skies cleared.