Hakone is a popular vacation getaway about one and a half hours outside of Tokyo. It is a beautiful little area nestled in the crater of a volcano.
Just getting there is part of the fun. You take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku to Odawara, then transfer to a tiny railroad line called the Hakone Yumoto line that winds its way up the lower part of the volcano. As it gets higher, it has to reverse directions several times to switch-back up the steeper areas. Along the way, make sure you stop for a while at the Chokoku-no-mori station to visit the Hakone Open Air Museum. It is a beautiful art museum with most of its display dedicated to large sculptures that dot beautiful lawns.
They also have a building dedicated to works by Picasso.
After getting back on the Hakone Yumoto line, you go all the way to the end and then take a cable car that pulls you straight up a steep section of the slope. From here there is a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.
At the end of the cable car, you get on a ropeway that takes you over the crest of the mountain into the gigantic crater. Looking out the ropeway, you pass a section where they are drilling into the side of the mountain to prevent the pressure from building up and causing an explosion.
Make sure you get off at the stop in the middle of the ropeway to see the "sulfurous vapor erupting area." Here you can take a short nature walk and see the sulfur steaming from the ground, and natural hot springs from the volcano. You can eat eggs boiled in the hot water which the Japanese say will help you live longer.
Along the nature trail there are signs in Japanese and English that tell you such things as "This area was once covered with tall trees, but now you can find only the species which have been able to survive such things as Volcanic eruption."
The ropeway will then take you the rest of the way into the crater to Lake Ashi, which you cross on large replicas of pirate ships. (Sorry, I'm trying to find my picture of the pirate boat.)
The boat takes you to Hanokemachi which is a historical area from the 1600's, including the Hakone Checkpoint and a portion of an ancient highway that was lined with cedars to provide shade hundreds of years ago.
By the time we get here we are pretty tired, so we catch a bus to the Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita to spend the night. It is a beautiful hotel established in 1878, making it the oldest western-style hotel in Japan. It has been visited by many famous people including Albert Einstein, Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher, Hellen Keller, and many emperors of Japan. It is nestled among trees, and has a beautiful garden in back which is home to the only California Redwood tree in Japan. Inside the decor is beautiful, including many wood carvings. You can also bathe in the natural hot spring onsens.
The next day, be sure to see some of the many other attractions in the area including the Hakone Ashinoyu Flower Center (a gigantic greenhouse with many types of flowers and other plants - indoors, so nice even in case of rain) and the Botanical Garden of the Wetlands. There are many museums, not all of which we have had the chance to visit yet. One with an interesting name is the "Mental Image Museum." There is also a Teddy Bear Museum, a Glass Art Museum, and others.
On our way home, we like to stop at the Odawara Castle.
Lodging in Hakone
When we go, we like to stay at the Fujiya Hotel near the Miyanoshita Station. They have a special foreigner's rate of $120.00 U.S. per night. It is the first Western Style in Japan, and is more than 100 years old. All of their employees study English in the United States and making reservations by phone is easy. You can contact them at FUJIYA HOTEL
359 Miyanoshita, Hakone, Kanagawa Pref., JAPAN TEL.0460-2-2211 TELEX.3892-718 FAX.0460-2-2215
URL/ http://www.fujiyahotel.co.jp/ E-mail/ firstname.lastname@example.org
I know other people who stay at Camp Fuji, a little further away, but less expensive. They then drive into Hakone.
Maps of Hakone
The best map I've seen of Hakone are the "Hakone Sightseeing, Map National Park" which is an excellent map distributed at a number of places. I've scanned it in so you can see it, although I cannot get a great quality at a resonable size to download. I recommend that you look for an original someplace. ** I also recommend saving the file on your drive before you open it if you have a slow connection, as it can take greater than two minutes to download on a slow enough connection. (Acrobat reader required.)
hakone-map-l.pdf a 716 kb pdf file with the left side of the map.
hakone-map-r.pdf a 667 kb pdf file with the right side of the map.
ocr.txt Text file with list of Parks, Museums, Historic Sites, etc, found on the back of the above map. With grid coorinates to their location on the map.
Brian and Kristen Marriott
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Copywrited, Brian Marriott, 2000
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