From the bustle of 9.3 million in Tokyo to 13,500 in Hakone. We trade asphalt for green, apartment for ryokan. We travel from Tokyo to Hakone on The Romancecar, an Odakyu limited express train, which meanders through the countryside at 200 mph giving you scenery and efficiency.

After arriving in Hakone we take the Hakone Tozan train, also known as the Hydrangea train as the railway is lined with hydrangeas which were in full bloom during our visit. The only mountain railway in Japan, the train starts at 96 m above sea level and travels up the mountain through a series of switchbacks. Our stop, and the final stop, is Gora station which is 541 m above sea level.

Gora Hanaougi is a luxury ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn that has existed since the eighth century A.D. Ryokans typically feature an onsen (hot spring), tatami-matted rooms and the wearing of yukata, a casual summer kimono. Gora Hanaougi provides an elegant and elevated experience from their onsen, which can be enjoyed publicly or privately, to the amazing cuisine and service.

The view from our room

Our meals were served in a private dining room. Dinner was a 13 course meal complete with personal stones to cook our Kobe beef to our desired liking. Each course was as beautiful as it was delicious.

Omotenashi translates to hospitality. The Japanese use it to describe what they believe is their unique approach to hospitality. “Omote” means public face – an image you wish to present to outsiders. “Nashi” means nothing. Combining them means every service is from the bottom of the heart – honest, no hiding, no pretending. (