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Mt. Fuji from Lake Ashi, Hakone, Japan

Hakone is a beautiful, mountainous area located less than 100kms west of Tokyo in Japan. It belongs to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is renowned for its hot springs (onsen), outdoor activities and views of the close-by Mt Fuji, making it one of the best-liked destinations for international and Japanese tourists alike looking for a weekend away from bustling Tokyo.

Centred around Lake Ashinoko, the volcanically active national park offers several highlights including a spectacular panorama of the lake with Mount Fuji in the backdrop, with the mountain being a symbol of Hakone. The best views can be enjoyed from the Hakone Detached Palace Garden, Moto-Hakone and the sightseeing boats that crisscross the lake. However, the scene is often blocked by clouds, and visibility tends to be better in the colder seasons.

For centuries, Hakone has been one of the country's most popular hot spring resorts. At present, over a dozen springs provide hot water to the plentiful bath houses in the region. The most renowned hot spring is Yumoto, with a long history and high-quality water, while in the mountains and valleys of Hakone you will discover many more hot spring baths.

Owakudani, the Great Boiling Valley, is a volcanic hotspot dotted with sulphurous springs that can be accessed by cable car from the lake and Sounzan. Another place of interest is the Hakone Jinja Shrine, a pictorial Shinto shrine which is nestled on the lake's south shore. Set in scenic parkland, Hakone Open Air Museum displays a great variety of artworks and sculptures and includes a Picasso exhibition.

Among the many sorts of accommodation throughout the region is the Hakone Hotel which provides 50 guestrooms ranging from twin-bed rooms to suites and a majestic view of Mt Fuji. Various Hakone travel and Hakone tour agencies assist holidaymakers in planning their stay here. For those preferring to stay closer to the mountain, there are diverse Mt Fuji hotels for everyone's taste and finances, while numerous travel operators offer Mt Fuji tours varying from afternoon trips to multi-day vacations.


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