A popular retreat for over a thousand years, this thermal resort to the west of Tokyo serves as a springboard for the popular Hakone National Park, whose natural wonders include Mount Fuji and shimmering Lake Ashi. In clear weather, spectacular views of the sacred peak and its outlying mountains are to be had from the onsen (hot spring) resorts dotted around the town, while a funicular railway and ropeway connect a circuit of delightful open-air museums and galleries, featuring works by contemporary Japanese artists, as well as the likes of Rodin and Henry Moore.

Lake Ashi, on the southwest flank of Mount Hakone, was where the great feudal lord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ordered hot spring baths to be built to aid the recovery of his battle-scarred soldiers following the Siege of Odawara in 1590, and onsen resorts and ryokans have proliferated around its shores ever since. Excursion boats, many of them replica medieval Japanese galleons, cross the waters, offering superlative views of the surrounding summits.


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