Hakone is a city located in the extreme southwest of Kanagawa prefecture, east-central Honshu, Japan. It is located on the southern shore of Lake Ashi, in the caldera of the extinct volcano Mount Hakone.
The road to Kyoto
The city was a post office on the Tōkaidō (East Sea Road), the main historical overland route between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyōto, during the Edo period (1603-1868). Later it became a tourist base for the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Hakone, a favorite hot spring resort, is well served by roads and railways.
Among all the onsen (hot bath) experiences in Japan, surely Hakone is the best for those who live in the Tokyo area, as it is very close to the city and easily accessible. Hakone has a high concentration of natural hot springs, all known for the quality and variety of their minerals. The Japanese travel to Hakone, even during the day, specifically to immerse their bodies in one of the natural pools scattered in the mountains. There are many public baths or hotel property, but the must-have onsen are the open-air baths.
One of Hakone’s biggest attractions is Lake Ashi which is located in the heart of the area. Many of the best cultural, historical activities can be found along its coasts. The best way to explore the lake is to take one of the tour boats. There are four harbors located on the east and west sides of the lake. Taking a tour of the area will generally require taking one of the comfortable pleasure boats from one end of the lake to the other. Enjoy views on the 40-minute cruise of the surrounding mountains, Mt. Fuji, the cool breeze and the picturesque beauty of the bright red shrine gates seemingly floating on the water.
One way to get a full view of the lake, mountain, and everything in between is to hop on the cable car and enjoy the slow ride in the air. The cable car connects Lake Ashi with Gora Station, passing through Owakudani. The caldera, sulfur vents, and mountain ranges in the distance are also well visible from there.
One of the classic images of Japan is the shrine’s red gates seemingly floating on the water with Mt. Fuji in the background. This is the Hakone Shrine, just south of Tokyo, a place of history, culture and tradition.
This shrine has played an important role in the history of Japan, in the lives of travelers, and was sponsored by samurai warriors for more than a century. The founding of the Hakone Shrine dates back more than a century.
Another interesting thing about Hakone is that it is part of the setting for “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, one of the most famous anime in Japanese history. In Hakone you will find an official Evangelion store dedicated to anime fans.
Since Hakone is so close to Tokyo, it is recommended that you visit it during your stay in Japan.