Hakone National Park is one of five parks that make up Japan’s Fuji-Hakone-lzu National Park, centered around Lake Ashinoko, or Ashi as it is tenderly known, a adored site in Japan with unparalleled views of the imposing Mount Fuji. It is a popular day-trip destination among tourists keen to go out of Tokyo. Fuji-Hakone-Izu is the most visited national park in Japan.
Located within a volcanic territory, Hakone is famous for its hot springs, health resorts, spas, and therapy centers. The area has long been thought to have magical healing qualities, and people in quest of renewal flock here in the thousands. Never fear if you have not booked into one of the treatment hotels; it is still doable to enjoy a sake bath with green tea: Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is a hot springs spa resort and water amusement park open to the public all year round, a ideal pit stop after trekking the peaks of mounts Komagatake and Kanmurigatake. Those seeking a longer life head to Owakudani, in the Great Boiling Valley, an area with active sulfur vents and hot springs. Here they boil eggs, which turn black and slightly sulfuric, and if you can stand the smell. Fable has it that eating one egg adds seven years to your life.
Hakone also boasts the generally celebrated Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands and an open-air museum, with masterpieces on display by celebrated modern artists, including Picasso, Rodin, and Miro. However, Lake Ashi steals the show. It is set in a surreal landscape with snow-covered Fuji as a stage set and the bright red torii gates of Hakone Jinja shrine to the fore, a Shinto shrine forever marking the entrance to a sacred space, another world. At 72,400 feet high, Mount Fuji dominates the skyline across the waters of Lake Ashi. Spring is cherry blossom season in Japan and the most exceptional time to visit the park. Travelers can take in the imposing cone of Mount Fuji through pale-lavender and rose-colored branches in the park during the Sakura season.