Hakone, a Guide to the sights and what to do in this beautiful volcanic area of mountains, vistas, and hot springs
Pictured: Ashinoko or Lake Ashi
Hot Springs near Lake Ashi
This area "...is the Japanese tourist-mecca par excellence. If the weather cooperates and Mt. Fuji is clearly visible, the ...region can make a fun day trip from Tokyo. You can enjoy cable-car rides, visit an open air museum, poke around smelly volcanic hot springs and cruise Ashino-ko. If it`s rainy or cloudy, however, you may simply feel that you`re riding a conveyor belt of which the sole purpose is to strip you of your cash."
--Japan, Lonely Planet
Yumoto is the most popular hot springs resort in the region.
To get there:
Take the Hakone Tozan Railway from Odawara to Yumoto Station. Most of the best hot springs are near the station.
Merry Lue`s Guest House
Merry Lue`s Guest House is a a great place to stay if you are on a budget. A whole suite including kitchen, is typically a little over 5000 Yen per night, depending on when you book it. It is located near the Kari River and near Odawara. It is just 10 minutes from downtown Odawara and you can get a train to Hakone from Odawara Station (just 11 minutes away from Merry Lue`s Guest House).
The Hot Spring Baths
Kappa Tengoku Notemburo
It`s a very popular outdoor bath. Located behind Yumoto Station.
Many indoor and outdoor baths. To get there take the free shuttle bus from the bridge near Yumoto Station.
This whole area is part of a national park, not too far from
Tokyo. It is famous for its beauty, hot springs, and the many interesting volcanic things you can see and do. It is a great
break from Tokyo!
"Yumoto, at the entrance to the...area near Odawara, is (the area`s) most famous hot spring with a particularly long history, high quality water and numerous baths and inns. But many more hot spring baths can be found in the valleys and mountains of Hakone and at the shores of Lake Ashi."
Is an onsen resort near the top of Soun-zan Mountain. It is in the center of the area. It is a pretty area with resorts and hotels.
Hakone Bijutskukan (Art Museum)Tel 0460-2-2623It is 3 minutes by cable car from Gora Station to Koen-ue. It has a great collection of Japanese and Chinese ceramics. Plus the surrounding grounds are covered in moss and Japanese maples. A truly Japanese experience. An interesting Japanese bamboo grove also surrounds the museum.
Goes to the summit of Soun-zan. A tram goes down the other side and is the second longest in the world.The end of the tram line is Togendai on the shores of Lake Ashi (Ashinoko). Stop at Owaki-dani to view the sulfur spewing holes and stop to boil an egg if you`d like. Like a scene from a dinosaur movie! In Togendai you can take a boat to Moto-Hakone or take a bus to Hakone-en.
Is 40 minutes by bus from Yumoto. It is a beautiful area of large trees and lakeside. There are some interesting shops and good restaurants with lake views. Gongen (Shrine) is a famous site with it`s red torii gate, which is actually in Lake Ashi. It frequently appears in photographs in books on Japan. This shrine was founded in 757.
Hiking the Old Tokaido Road
You can hike the Old Tokaido road the famous road that stretched from Kyoto to Edo (the old name for Tokyo). You can hike the road from Moto-Hakone to Sukumogawa and it takes about 2 and a half hours.At the end of the hike in Sukumogawa you can catch a bus back to Yumoto. Not the whole road is the original from hundreds of years ago, some of it is asphalt unfortunately.
Other Things to See & Do
Chokoku no Mori Bijutsukan (Open Air Museum)
Even if you are not that interested in art, you should consider seeing this museum. The Picasso exhibit alone is worth the price of admission. I wish I had been the first to think of using a bicycle seat for art! Damn! It exhibits sculptures by Western artists including: Picasso, Arp, Rodin, Noguchi, Moore and Giacometti. There are also displays of Japanese paintings inside.
Nearby is the interesting city of Odawara.
One reader wrote of seeing UFOs at 3AM. My friend Atsuko and I too, saw a UFO in the afternoon of a bright sunny day. Something is definitely going on in this area, be it natural or alien, I do not know. I am willing to believe in the power of nature. I am also open to visitors from outer space. But suspect the former over the latter. That said, it is interesting
Atsuko and I were walking, and we weren`t even drunk! Honestly!
What we saw that day, was the strangest thing I have ever seen in my 50 years on this planet!
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More information about the area.
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Near Hakone, views of Mount Fuji, and near Only Yu Hot Spring!
And did we mention the reasonable price?