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Hakone

Not far from Tokyo, a National Park under the perpetual shadow of Mt Fuji, with hot springs, beautiful scenery and welcoming ryokans.

Hakone is a wonderful region in which to relax, explore and experience the 'real' Japan - all within easy striking distance from Tokyo. Indeed, it is possible as a day trip form the capital, but far better to stay overnight and enjoy the hospitality of a traditional inn, known as a ryokan.

Hakone is the gateway to Mount Fuji and the delights of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, where you'll find an eclectic mix of different attractions. Whether you wish to ride scenic railways, cable-cars and funicular railways, or admire views of Mt. Fuji, eat eggs boiled in sulphurous springs, visit world class art museums, or simply relax in the onsen waters, Hakone has it all.

Hakone INFORMATION

Population:  15,000

Highlights:  Staying in an historic ryokan, bathing in onsen waters and kaiseki dining / lake cruise on Lake Ashi / Hakone Open-Air Sculpture Museum

Access:  Hakone is only 50-miles from Tokyo, it takes no time to get to the region by bullet-train (or regular train). If you are coming from, or heading to, Kyoto then Hakone is between the two cities.

Suggested Itineraries featuring Hakone

These suggested itineraries will give you a starting point for what your ski holiday to Japan could entail. Sometimes we combine ski resorts and we often cherish the opportunity to explore and experience Japan beyond the ski slopes. We hope these itineraries will inspire, excite and inform you as we begin the planning process. They’re not set departures or tours, as every holiday we plan is completely tailor-made for you - treat them as inspiration only.

The Grand (Ski) Tour of Japan

Hakuba - Takayama - Kyoto - Hiroshima - Hakone - Tokyo

Duration: three weeks

The ultimate itinerary, for those with the time, an adventurous spirit and a real passion for Japan.

from £3,580 per person, including flights

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The ‘Different’ Japan Itinerary

Furano - Hakone - Tokyo

Duration: 10 / 12 days

A left field, though perfectly conceived itinerary. Furano for the powder snow, Hakone for the ryokan & onsens and the capital for...

from £1,998 per person, including flights

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The Japanese Ski Week

Zao Onsen - Tokyo - and perhaps Hakone?

Duration: one week

A one-week ski holiday with a different flavour - there's no mistaking you're in Japan. Bullet-trains, snow monsters and neon cities.

from £1,860 per person, including flights

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Prices are indicative only and include accommodation (low season), lift passes, transfers and – because we are ATOL-bonded – your flights from the UK. Different Snow can also include ski hire, backcountry and off-piste tours, rail passes, private transfers, English-speaking guides, cultural excursions and activities.

Accommodation

In Hakone a stay in a ryokan is an essential part of the experience. Indeed, this is why you come here. Dotted around the region, most are upmarket, many are historic and all feature relaxing onsen baths and serve fine kaiseki dinners. Some offer Western beds, but in many instances you'll sleep on futon bedding laid out for on tatami mat flooring...and you'll enjoy the best night's sleep of your stay!

There are literally hundreds of ryokans in the Hakone region, it's a very popular weekend retreat from Tokyo and, consequently, they can get very busy at weekends. However, winter is quieter - when the air is crisp and clear (great views to Fuji-san!) and the onsens all the more enticing.

Gora Kadan

An experience beyond compare - the former retreat of the Imperial Family is now Hakone's finest ryokan.

Gora Kadan is not your everyday accommodation. Rather, this is a traditional Japanese ryokan, second- to-none in all Japan. Located on the grounds of a former summer-retreat villa for a member of the “Kanin no miya” imperial family, the building and facilities are in total harmony with the nearby mountains, blending Japanese tradition along with modern design elements. Here, relaxation is taken seriously – a fine restaurant, exquisite hot spring bathing pools and authentic tatami-style décor, always sympathetic to the natural surroundings of beautiful Hakone.

Not just a place to stay, instead an authentic Japanese experience of hospitality, gourmet and classic luxury. The suites have been designed in a minimalist style, and the hotel’s facilities include a swimming pool, a spa, and a beauty salon.

Yama No Chaya

An exquisite ryokan with a rustic atmosphere and a welcoming disposition. Fine onsens & outstanding cuisine.

A serene, somewhat hidden ryokan nestled on the very heart of the Hakone district, perfectly perched beside the pretty Hayakawa river. The literal translation of Yama No Chaya is “mountain teahouse”, alluding to its heritage as a rest-stop for travellers over many, many years.

Nowadays it is an exquisite Japanese Inn, with traditional (though modern) rooms, relaxing onsens, fine kaiseki dining and classic Japanese styling. This is exactly why you came to Japan ... there is no more apt place to stay in Hakone!

Ichinoyu Honkan

With a rich history dating back to 1630, one of Hakone's original, traditional and most affordable ryokans.

The Honkan (translation - "main building") that you'll be staying in was featured in the famous series of ukiyo-e woodblock prints of Hakone produced by Ando Hiroshige in the 19th Century, and has been welcoming guests for the best part of the past 400 years.

With this legacy, the Ichinoyu holds true to the traditional values of service for which Japan is famed. Located as it is in a famous onsen area, there are also large communal baths for you to enjoy, as well as a private onsen that they make available for booking. Dinner is served in the dining hall.

Excursions

To explore the Hakone district we will book the 'Hakone Free Pass' - which provides unlimited travel to and around the National Park area, including the local Hakone Tozan line, a beautiful route with switchbacks to climb through the valley, the funicular railway from Gora, the gondolas that cross from the northern tip of Lake Ashi to Souzan, the lake cruise ships on Lake Ashi and the many buses in the Hakone region.

We'll provide pragmatic notes to help you explore (though a decent guidebook is also a necessity). Getting to and from Hakone is part of the experience - taking the bullet-train to gateway Odawara Station is a thrill.

The Hakone Circuit

Lake cruise, to cable car, to funicular railway, to scenic railway, to local bus - Hakone in a day!

Using your pass, there is an obvious loop you should follow around the region using five different means of transport (train, cablecar, ropeway, boat and bus). Stops en route include the open-air sculpture museum, hot springs, thermal activity, parks and plenty pf photo-stops as you pass through the switchbacks on the Hakone-Tozan scenic railway.

If you leave early in the morning, it is possible to completed the Hakone round course in a one day trip from Tokyo. However, far better tp base yourself in a ryokan and alleviate all time pressures.

Hakone Open Air Museum

A stunning art gallery, featuring 120 grand-scale sculptures scattered around landscaped gardens.

This is the antithesis of a stuffy museum, this park successfully attempts to create a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures from Japanese and international artists on its grounds in combination with views of the surrounding valley and mountains.

Many interactive exhibits are designed to be touched and climbed on. Worth a couple of hours of your time, even for those indifferent to art -, it's a pleasant place to linger, with an excellent gift shop, a cafe and a fabulous hot spring footbath to soothe weary soles.

Mount Fuji’s 5th Station

You can't climb Fuji-san during the Winter or Spring...so this is as close as it gets.

The Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station lies at approximately the halfway point of the Yoshida Trail, which leads from Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine at the mountain's base to the summit of Mount Fuji. It is accessible almost year round, snow conditions permitting, and is a popular sightseeing spot.

At 2,300 meters above sea level, the 5th Station offers a commanding view of the Fuji Five Lakes area below, making it a popular spot even for those who are not ivisiting during the climbing season. An observation point with unobstructed views of Fujiyoshida City and Lake Yamanaka can be found at Komitake Shrine behind the shops.