Surrounded by forest, mountains and clear blue sky, Lake Ashinoko is a picture-perfect retreat.
Often depicted with its characteristic bright red torii gate and Mount Fuji standing imposingly in the background, Lake Ashinoko, in the heart of hot spring haven Hakone, is nothing short of iconic.
Although easily accessible from Hakone-Yumoto station by a short bus ride, Lake Ashinoko is nestled between many quaint onsen towns that reside on its expansive shores.
Shiver me timbers!
Alternatively, if exploring on a speedboat (with a valid licence) or on a swan paddle boat (they have top hats!) sounds more enticing, these can also be rented from the ports for a fee of around 1000 yen.
Hakone-Machi and Moto-Hakone are both found on the southern shores of Lake Ashinoko. Sightseeing tours can also be boarded from towns on the northern shore, such as Togendai and Kojiri.
Each of these towns has their own local flavor; Hakone-machi merits a visit as it features one of Japan’s oldest checkpoints. This huge gate used to mark the way of one of the main trading routes during the Edo-period. You can browse many a shop selling traditional crafts here too.
Hakone Shrine is just a short walk away from Ashinoko’s main bus station and leads you into the depths of the Hakone National Park’s majestic forestscape, buzzing with wildlife. The small dojo connected to it can often be seen showcasing groups practicing various martial arts – it’s like stepping into an early scene of an action movie. The famous torii gate is a five minute walk from the shrine, directly on the lake’s shore.
Shiver me timbers!
One of the tour boat options is a pirate ship-esque Galleon. Nothing will shiver your timbers more than gliding past Mount Fuji looking like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. The Hakone Free Pass is also valid to use on this sightseeing boat only.