The Eternally Green Paradise. The City of Evergreen. The slogans for Viridian City could not match the Hakone area better. Luscious green forests coat the mountain sides here, making “Green Paradise” the perfect moniker for this amazing place. The landscapes alone have sold Hakone to us, but there’s more to the place than that… Only at this moment in time they haven’t been available to see.
Since 30th June 2015, perhaps Hakone’s most recognisable landmark Owakudani, literally “Great Boiling Valley”, has become a restricted zone. This has been due to increased volcanic activity in the area and seems to be closed for an indeterminate amount of time. Similarly we have been unable to view Mt. Fuji, although this is because it hasn’t been a clear enough day. Nevertheless we’ve made do without and ultimately we’re here to see why Hakone is the Viridian City of the real world.
It is quite fitting that Hakone sits beneath Mt. Fuji ‘s gaze, allowing the people here a chance to experience the impressive feat before them. As gateway to the Pokèmon League (which itself is nestled beside Mt. Fuji’s Pokèmon counterpart Mt. Silver) it is often the resting place for those preparing the pilgrimage to the mountain. There’s a sense of awe at this awesome landmark here that draws people around the world, simply to catch of glimpse of it. Certainly even at the beginning of the game, Viridian City reminds us of the ultimate challenge that every trainer aims for.
Furthermore Hakone is one of the more famous spots on the old Tokaido road between Yedo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto. Some of the original road is still preserved here in fact as seen in the Cedar Avenue nearby Lake Ashi. The Tokaido road was once the main highway between the two major cities and was integral for monitoring who entered the Yedo area, as the mountain range surrounding it meant any other route was near impossible. Many Daimyo (Feudal lords of pre-modern Japan) would have to pass through the checkpoint in Hakone in order to reach the capital. This road, and the checkpoints along it are not too dissimilar to Route 23, the road to the Pokèmon League, in which officials prevent passage unless Trainers have the right badge to continue. The Shogunate knew exactly who was coming to the capital, as do the elite trainers waiting at the Indigo Plateau. Indeed Hakone’s history seems to correspond with that rite of passage Pokèmon Trainers must face in order to challenge the best of the best.
As a final note, and it really is a shame we couldn’t get a real look, Owakudani seems to be a place where the earth is at constant war with the volcanic activity below (hence the large amount of Onsen the area is well known for). That would make it a pretty hardy place, one where perhaps a Ground-type Trainer might thrive. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen of the place, Giovanni and his Rhydon would be right at home here, being a great place for Ground-type Pokèmon to train. To make the earth bend to your will, seems that’s not too far off the former Team Rocket Boss wanting to be the World’s Strongest Trainer. You’d certainly need strength to train up there.
So despite certain areas being off – limits, it’s not hard to see the similarities between Hakone and Viridian City. To be fair, simply getting on the Hakone-Tozan railway and seeing the landscape, you’d be sold on the comparison.
Tomorrow we head back to Tokyo before we take a trip to the Chichibu-Tama National Park aka the Viridian Forest.