Hakone (箱根) is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone is one of the most popular destinations among Japanese and international tourists looking for a break from Tokyo.
On this tour, we will go to the spa resort town of Hakone and see (if the weather permits) Fuji mountain. First, we will take one of the worlds steepest trains the Hakone Tozan Railway to get there.
These are some of the sights we will see along the way:
* The Hakone Open Air Museum (箱根彫刻の森美術館, Hakone Chōkoku No Mori Bijutsukan), successfully attempts to create a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its spacious grounds in combination with beautiful views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Besides the sculptures, the Hakone Open Air Museum features various indoor galleries, including a sizable Picasso Collection, consisting of paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramic creations.
* Owakudani (大涌谷, Ōwakudani) is the area around a crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone some 3000 years ago. Today, much of the area is an active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers can be experienced. Additionally, Owakudani has good views of Mount Fuji on clear days.
A short walking trail (about ten minutes one way) leads from the ropeway station into the volcanic zone to a number of steam vents and bubbling pools. Here you can purchase eggs, cooked in the naturally hot water, whose shells are blackened by the sulfur and which are said to prolong one’s life by seven years.
The best views of the lake in combination with Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from the sightseeing boats cruising the lake. Note, however, that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, and you have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of the mountain. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer and in the early morning and late evening hours. We will board one of the pirate boats and see this beautiful lake, and hopefully catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
* Hakone Shrine (箱根神社, Hakone Jinja) stands at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shores of Lake Ashi. The shrine buildings are hidden in the dense forest, but are well advertised by its huge torii gates, one standing prominently in the lake and two others over the main street of Moto-Hakone.
A path leads from the torii gate in Lake Ashi up a series of steps flanked by lanterns through the forest to the main building of the shrine, which sits peacefully among the tall trees. The shrine is beautiful throughout the year, and is particularly breathtaking when shrouded in mist.
At the end of the day, we can either go back to Tokyo, or you can enjoy a quintessentially Japanese experience. A visit to an onsen (hot spa) where you can try on a traditional Yukata (summer kimono) and enjoy the sauna’s and the indoor and outdoor pools. Entrance to the onsen is not included in the tour price. We can recommend a nice onsen for you, and drop you off at the reception desk. The guide will also explain to you how to get back to your hotel after you are finished.
Please note that the transportation costs of both yourself and your guide are not included in the tour price.