In our previous post Hakone Circuit: How to see Mount Fuji we wrote about taking the boat across Lake Ashi and riding the cable car to catch stunning views of Mount Fuji. If I were to go to Hakone on a day trip from Tokyo then that would be the first thing I would recommend but the area has a lot more and deserves more than just a day trip. Here are some other suggestions on what you can do in the area.
1 Hakone Shrine
The shrine gate can be seen standing prominently from the bank of Lake Ashi at the base of Mount Komagatake. The path leads up to the shrine flanked by stone lanterns. The main shrine is surrounded by a dense forest a path, flanked by We were there on a clear day but from photos that I have seen it looks magical covered in shrouded mist.<!-
In 757 AD, the shrine was founded by Jozen Shonin as a location to worship Mount Komagatake. The shrine is rich in samurai history as this was the place where the priest saved Shogun Yoritomo Minamoto in the 12th century. Hideyoshi Toyotomi burnt down the shrine in the 16th century but it was later built in the same century.
Access 10 minute walk from Motohakone-Ko cruise stop/bus stop.
2 Old Tokaido highway and check point
The old Tokaido highway dates back 400 years and was used in the Edo Feudal period to travel between Tokyo and Hokkaido some of it remains unchanged with some of the original stoned pavement. The checkpoint was reconstructed in 2007 and appears like its former self with gates, fence, housing for officers and foot soldiers, a prison chamber and a lookout tower.
Highlights Rows of Cedar Trees
The rows of cedar trees by Lake Ashi are said to have been planted in 1618, at the beginning of the Edo period. Around 409 huge cedar trees still stand.
3 Gora Park
We went in the middle of Winter so there wasn’t much flowering but it still looked pretty with a water fountain in the middle of the small park and the last few roses for the year. The French landscape gardens also have two green houses for visitors to enjoy.
Access 5 minute walk from Gora station
4 Hakone Open Air Museum
This was our favourite place we went to in the Hakone area. The sculptures are laid out beautifully on manicured lawns and have a mountain range looming as there backdrop.
The outdoor musuem focusses on western and Japanese 19th and 20th century sculptures. Artists that are featured in the musuem includes Bourdelle, Despiau,Rodin and Moore. They also have some pieces by the famous Japanese sculptor Okamoto Taro the artist who is well known in Osaka for sculpturing the symbol of the Osakan Expo.
The musuem also holds a collection of Picasso works which opened in 1984 being the first Picasso musuem in Japan, after aquiring 188 pieces of ceramics that had been inherited by his oldest daughter. The Picasso collection now numbers more than 300 items. There is also a photo collection of Picasso’s life taken by David Douglas Duncan, during 17 years from 1956 to Picasso’s death at age 91.
The musuem also holds one of the worlds largest collections of work by the English sculptor Henry Moore but to be honest I preferred many of the other sculptors work.
If you are with children there are some sculptures where the children can climb and play on. Our favourite piece was the ‘Hand of God’.
Access In front of Chukoku no mori train station.
5 Hakone hot spring amusement park
This hot spring amusement park is divided into two areas one where you can take a traditional hot spring where bathers are segregated and enter naked or if you are too shy to try a hot spring naked then this hot spring amusement park might be the place for you. The other area is cumpolsury to wear swim suits. This amusement park is unique with over 25 different hot springs including coffee, green tea, sake and wine hot springs.
There are even more things to do in Hakone, don’t just come to see Mount Fuji make sure you stay for at least two or three days.
Have you been to Hakone? What did you do there other than see Mount Fuji?