Japan Spring 2023 Diary Day 4 Hakone

My favorite thing about going to Japan is the hot springs and Shiatsu massage! 

So this time, I made plans to go to Tenzan in Hakone Yumoto, where I went four years ago.

Meet up with a good friend, Chihiro, in Odawara. 

She took us first to Owakudani – one of the most famous viewpoints in Hakone, where you can observe the intense volcanic activity from up close. It is said that this place came to be thanks to a phreatic eruption and pyroclastic flow that occurred almost 3000 years ago. It’s also known to locals as “Jigokudani” (the Valley of Hell) and is famous for its black eggs, which are boiled in the sulfurous waters to give the egg shells a distinctive color. The sulfur smelled so strong I had to wear a mask because I have smell sensitivity.

When we arrived at Owakudani, we could see Mt. Fuji, but it was behind the clouds, so we blew our breath to move the clouds away. 


Did it work? 

Sure, it did.

Four years ago, it was raining, and we could not see Mt. Fuji, so we felt blessed this time.

Mt. Fuji is the symbol of Japan and World Cultural Heritage.

I have memories of my father’s construction company building a road to the 5th Station (Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station), and I feel a sense of familiarity with Mt. Fuji. The Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station is located at an altitude of 2,300 meters and offers a panoramic view of the Fuji Five Lakes. 

It is a popular spot even for those who does not climb the mountain climbing. While my father’s company was constructing the road, I was invited to see the breathtaking Mt. Fuji. I was moved to tears when I went to see the completion of the 5th station road a long time after my father passed away.

I’ve talked about this story with Eric many times, but someday I want him to see the road leading to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th station.


Chihiro drove to Ashino Lake, Shinshou Soba (opened over 50 years ago), for our lunch.

Usually, I don’t eat much soba because it is much denser than udon noodles. But Shinshou soba was smooth, light soba that I could enjoy. I had soba with grated jinennjo (wild yam).  I had never had such thick jinennjo before. It was sooo delicious.)


After a delicious lunch, we saw the beautiful mountain cherry blossoms, then went to our destination, Tenzan


Tenzan has a great onsen (hot spring), massage, cafe, and souvenir gifts shop. 

As soon as we arrived, first, we went to the massage room area to make an appointment to receive the massage after Onsen. There are many choices to choose massage style. I decided on the therapeutic Shiatsu and legs/feet combination. Eric and Chihiro chose the therapeutic Shiatsu. 

The Onsen is nature’s gift – it warms the body, heart, soul, and spirit and makes skin so smooth. Tenzan had an elegant wooden indoor bath and an open-air bath area surrounded by the forest’s trees outside.

The last time we were there, Chihiro and I talked too much, dipping ourselves to enjoy Onsen too long, and we were late for our massage, so we had to make sure we won’t be late this time.


The massage was heavenly healing, and we were all satisfied 100% with big smile.



After the massage, we went to the cafe “Ukaregumo” (it means Floating Clouds).

The last time, I ordered a Red Shiso Juice since the weather was warmer. I liked it so much that I make it in Santa Monica in the summer, so I wrote the recipe on my blog.

, but it was still cool this time. I had homemade hot Amazake (a traditional sweet Japanese drink made from fermented rice) to warm my heart and sweeten my soul.


Eric had plum wine and chocolate tart.

The hot springs are freshly brewed and can be drunk or brought back to your home in a bottle.

In general, hot springs have a high content of magnesium and have the impression of being “hard.” Tenzan  [No. 74 hot spring] contains zero magnesium ions. The content of calcium ions is 1.2 mg in 1000 ml, which is very soft and has the property of super soft water.

I have another favorite thing to do at Tenzan – stop by their souvenir gifts shop, “Sharetei.”

I love their unique, rare collection of items that can use in daily life. Just adding such a modest tool makes life fun.


I found Zukou (a powder incense) with a cherry wooden container to put the powder incense this time.  I have enjoyed incense since I was a teenager, but I didn’t have any powder incense, so I was excited. Powdered incense is applied to the body to purify the body. 

Agarwood, sandalwood, clove, cinnamon, and other precious herbal fragrant woods are used as a base to create a clean fragrance.  Apply the incense to your hands and body when you hold a Buddhist memorial service or before you start copying sutras.

I decided to use the powder incense as a Japanese aromatherapy to soothe and protect myself.

These powder incent and a wooden box will be added to my treasures in Santa Monica.



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