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【Kanagawa】Hakone, a spa resort near Tokyo2015.11.18

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Located in the southwest part of Kanagawa Prefecture, Hakone is the most popular spa resort near Tokyo. It is only 80 minutes from Tokyo by train, and is part of Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. Since the start of the Edo period in 1603, Hakone has been the most popular destination in Japan. It still attracts many visitors from all over Japan and the world. Hakone offers many types of transportation including trains, buses, taxis, cable cars, tour boats and ropeway. Famous sightseeing spots in Hakone are accessible via the Hakone Tozan Railway. The train repeats switchbacks to go up the slope between Hakone Yumoto Station and Gora Station.

While Hakone is famous for hot springs, these are not the only way to enjoy the area. Hakone has many contemporary museums, such as Hakone Museum of Art, Venetian Glass Museum, and Pola Museum of Art. Cultivating your sense of art can be a great way to appreciate Hakone. Hakone also has spiritual places, such as Kuzuryu Shrine, a shrine built by Ashi Lake in 757 during the Nara Period. The picturesque lake-front gate of the shrine is unique, and the steps leading up to the shrine are lovely and set the tone for the beautiful shrine. Ashi Lake is a calm serene lake with a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji, and visitors can enjoy relaxing cruises on its water. The cruise takes about 40 minutes and is free with the Hakone Pass.

In Hakone, there are more than one hundred Japanese-style inns and hotels you can choose from. There is a resort hotel targeting foreign visitors opened in 1878, where numerous celebrities, including John Lennon, have stayed.

There is spectacular scenic spot called Owakudani Valley where volcanic fumes are visible from the ropeway and station. You can smell sulfur and feel that you are actually at a live volcanic valley. There are souvenir shops and restaurants you can buy the famous black eggs. Black eggs are chicken eggs boiled in a special mineral water which dyes the shell completely black. Contrary to their deceptive appearance, they are completely safe to eat and it is said that if you eat one egg, you gain an extra 7 years of life. Currently the area is closed due to volcanic activity. With the restrictions on access to Owakudani Valley, Hakone Ropeway (cable car) is temporarily not operating between Sounzan Station and Ubako Station, however the bus service is still available. It is strongly recommended to plan ahead and check the volcano status.

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