Lake Ashi and Moto-Hakone

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5201.html in the Hakone area. http://wikitravel.org/en/Hakone Hakone is a great place to visit for a day or two or more and is only around and hour and a half to two hours from Tokyo. And the other shot is of the large torii http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torii at the entrance to the village of Moto-Hakone https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=owakudani+hakone&rlz=1C5CHFA_enJP586JP586&es_sm=119&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Mx1oU5SWL8Xe8AXOtoD4AQ&ved=0CEQQsAQ&biw=1626&bih=1139#q=moto+hakone&spell=1&tbm=isch is right on Ashinoko and there are various hotels to stay in there as well as a shopping street to explore. We’ve stayed in the modern, sleek, Western-style hotel on the banks of Ashinoko called Hakone Hotel. http://www.hakonehotel.jp/en/ The food was great, and the views of Fujisan from the lake in the morning were superb.

Hakone ropeway, Owakudani, and the Hakone Tozan Railway

Besides the view of Fuji-san on a clear day, there are many things to see and do in the Hakone area. Moto-Hakone has a port on Ashinoko http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/traffic/station_map/motohakonekou/ where you can ride a ferry that sort of looks like a pirate ship (sorry, couldn’t find a pic I’ve taken of that even though I know I have some somewhere, but see the website) http://www.hakone-kankosen.co.jp/foreign/en/ across to the Togendai at the northern end of of the lake, and from there you can take the Hekone Ropeway over the hills to Gora station http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5210.html , but along the way, be sure to get off at Owakudani station http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5203.html to see the volcanic fumes rolling out of the ground al over the hillside. https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=owakudani+hakone&rlz=1C5CHFA_enJP586JP586&es_sm=119&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Mx1oU5SWL8Xe8AXOtoD4AQ&ved=0CEQQsAQ&biw=1626&bih=1139 When you walk up the path to the top, they boil eggs in the volcanically heated water and the sulphur in the water makes the shells turn black as in the photo.Then you can take the ropeway from there on to Gora station. There are various things to see besides the nature, such as art galleries, from most of the stations on that ropeway http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/basics/sightseeing/art.html and from the stations along the Hakone Tozan Railway http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5202.html to from Gora to Hakone-Yumoto station http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakone-Yumoto_Station , which is worth walking around the main shopping street. And from there back to Odawara https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/kanagawa/odawara.html which has its own castle and then transfer and back to Tokyo. There is actually a 2 or 3 day pass that you can buy to travel from Tokyo to the Hakone area and have unlimited access to the trains, buses, boats, cable-cars, etc. in the area http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html

Yunessun Spa Resort and the Little Prince museum

A couple other attractions in Hakone are Yunessun. Yunessum Spa Resort
http://www.yunessun.com/english/yunessun.html can be reached by bus from Hakone-Yumoto station mentioned above. It has 25 different spa-related services and baths, some of which are strange, but fun, such as a wine bath, sake bath (shown in the pic above), a coffee bath, and a green tea bath. You wear a swim suit for those baths (they provide rental swimsuits in case you didn’t bring any), and it also has restaurants and beauty and massage salons, etc. Some of the baths are indoors and some are outside, so even in the winter you can enjoy a visit to Yunessun. https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=yunessun+spa+resort&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ehpoU-GgHYOZkQWv7oDACg&sqi=2&ved=0CEcQsAQ&biw=1626&bih=1139

The Little Prince Museum Hakone

We were surprised to find the Museum of Saint-Exupery’s the Little Prince http://www.tbs.co.jp/l-prince/en/ on a visit to Hakone (actually it was the day of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 3/11/20110). It is another example of why visiting Hakone is so entertaining. Not only is the nature beautiful to wander around in, but there are many galleries and museums in the area to see.
You can take a bus to get to the museum from the Hakone Yumoto station mentioned above in 30 minutes. The photo above is one of the original illustrations Antoine de Saint-Exupery did of the Little prince. The museum is actually more about his life than the Little Prince. In addition to the items on view in the museum, the building and grounds of the museum are very cute.


The museum is also walking distance to the Hakone Garasunomori Venetian Glass Museum http://www.ciao3.com/info/english/ which is worth a visit if you are there.

There is much more to see and do in the Hakone area than I’ve talked about here. So if you are visiting the Tokyo area and have a day or two or more free, I’d highly recommend spending some time in Hakone. The photos I’ve posted in each section of this article are ones I’ve taken, and if you are interested, I blog about my life in Japan at: http://www.tokyotom.org. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Japan, and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.

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