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Hakone

Hakone

Geography

This, perhaps the most famous national natural park in Japan, is located on the island of Honshu (Kanto region) and covers the territories of Yamanashi, Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures, as well as part of the Tokyo metropolitan area. The national park consists of three areas: Fuji and the Five Fuji Lakes, Hakone and the Izu Peninsula. The area is extremely picturesque with mountains, especially Mount Fuji, waterfalls, forests, mountain lakes, hot springs, and beaches on the Izu Peninsula. The climate in the national park is subtropical, with humid and hot summers and mild, usually snowless winters.

History

Mount Fuji has been a sacred place and object of worship for the inhabitants of the Japanese islands since time immemorial. The national park itself, as a vacation spot near hot springs and a natural resort, began to take shape in the Edo era due to its proximity to the capital of the shogunate. Nowadays, the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is a resort of not only Japanese but also global significance; approximately 20 million tourists visit it every year.

Culture, attractions
and entertainment

Thanks to the extremely developed transport infrastructure, it is convenient to travel around the national park in a variety of ways: by rented car, by shuttle buses, by train, as well as by cable cars and excursion boats (on Lake Asi). Sacred Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, is a relatively recently extinct volcano with an absolutely regular conical shape. It is believed that the most beautiful view of Fuji-san opens from Lake Ashi in winter and early spring, when the mountain cap is covered with snow and it is reflected in the waters of the lake along with pine trees growing on the adjacent hills. It is this view of Fuji that is the symbol of Hakone; it is also reproduced in the classic ukiyo-e engravings of Hokusai and Hiroshige. To get to Lake Ashi, take a shuttle bus from Hakone Yumoto or Odawara stations to the piers. Next, it is recommended to take a cruise on a pirate-themed boat, in tribute to the historical traditions of the Edo era. According to an ancient legend associated with Lake Asi, in ancient times an old man chained a three-headed dragon to the bottom of the lake, so swimming in the lake is prohibited. Right in the waters of the lake near the shore there is a torii - a traditional gate that precedes the entrance to a Shinto shrine. This temple, Hakone-jinja, is one of the oldest in Japan, dating back to the fifth century and located near the coast. Near the lake is the Hakone outpost, one of the stations on the famous Tokaido highway, which connected Kyoto and Edo and has fifty-three stations. Now the outpost has been completely reconstructed and a museum has been opened here, which allows you to get acquainted with the way of life of the Edo period. In the Owakudani Valley of Geysers, an extinct volcano crater located near the cable car station of the same name, you can try the so-called “longevity eggs.” Moderate volcanic activity continues here, so eggs are boiled in the hot water of the geysers and, according to another local legend, each egg eaten extends life by seven years. Due to the characteristics of mineral water, when boiled, their shells acquire an unusual black, “volcanic” color. Almost every ryūokan - a traditional Japanese inn - in Hakone has access to its own onsen. At the same time, on the territory of the national park there is a whole complex of public thermal springs called Yunnesan. The main hall of Yunnesan houses a variety of themed thermal baths - decorated like a Roman bath, Mediterranean style, like a Turkish hammam, and there is also a water park. The classic type of holiday in Hakone, as practiced by the Japanese themselves, is coming to Ryuokan for two or three days, walking around the national park, admiring its natural beauty, enjoying traditional local cuisine and taking daily hot mineral baths in the evening in a stone-lined hotel open-air bath, “rotemburo”. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is located about 80 km from Tokyo. You can get to Hakone Yumoto Station from Tokyo from Shinjuku Station by Romance Car train, the journey takes 90 minutes. You can also take the JR train to Odawara Station and then take a bus to Hakone Station. In addition, regular buses run from Shinjuku to Hakone; travel time is 2 hours.
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