With so much to see out in Hakone, we set aside an entire day in order to see as much as possible (up before the sun at 6am and home long after 9pm). Some highlights from our day exploring were:
Miyanoshita Onsen – Taking the train out from Tokyo, we hopped off at the Miyanoshita Station. Just around the corner from there, we stopped in at a small café that offered stunning views out over the green hillsides, delicious food and small hot pools filled from the natural springs under tables outside. Here we took a moment, dipped our feet and sipped on green tea over brunch.
Fujiya Hotel – Founded in 1878 and constructed in 1891, this hotel is one of the oldest in Japan. Over its many years, it has hosted a number of famous guests including Helen Kellar, Charles Chaplin, John Lennon, Prince Albert and many others. Still in operation, this hotel offers guests accommodation, restaurants and a bar, hot springs, beautiful gardens and wedding services. We stopped by and wandered through to the hotels museum, free for the public to visit. Here they have all manner of memorabilia, keepsakes and photographs from the hotels founding and the many famous guests and dignitaries who spent time at Fujiya. Before you leave, be sure to sign the guest book!
Lake Ashi – This scenic lake, also known as Lake Ashinoko, is in the Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshū, Japan. Here we hired a swan paddle boat and took it out on the water past the Hakone Shrine/Kuzuryu Shrine Singu, looked in at a few of the small local boutiques and stopped for lunch. If you find yourself very lucky, you can catch a clear view of Mt Fuji from the lakeside. More often than not, however, clouds and poor visibility tend to block this view (it’s said to be better in the colder seasons, and either early morning or late afternoons). This is where we also purchased our tickets for the Hakone Sight Seeing Boat (shaped just like a pirate ship) that would take us around to Togendai.
Ōwakudani – Taking the Hakone Ropeway up to the top, we had plenty of time to take in the spectacular views over the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Ashi, as we approached the rising volcanic fumes of Ōwakudani. On a fine, sunny day you can also marvel at the grandeur of Mount Fuji (we weren’t so lucky during our visit, but caught small glimpses through the clouds). Ōwakudani is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs. Offering impressive views over the Hakone region, this is where you can purchase eggs that have been cooked in the naturally hot water, the shells blackened by the sulphur (so bear in mind, this wonderful spot is a little ‘on the nose’). These eggs are said to prolong one’s life by seven years. Be sure to check online before you visit, as this area is closed during times of increased volcanic activity.
With so much to see and do out here, you could easily spend a few days to explore it all. You can find some of the best accommodation in the area here.