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After leaving Tokyo we drove to the national park region of Hakone which is about 97 kilometres from Tokyo. Our drive through the most scenic countryside included several stops along the way.

I can see why for the locals this is such a popular weekend getaway from Tokyo. This onsen town with its great views of Mt Fuji, (on a clear day) and diverse landscape has so much to see, do and offer. Certainly taking the train would be a much better option than driving and far more relaxing. After taking the bullet train while I was in Japan this would definitely be my preferred option.

We stopped at Lake Ashi, which is a scenic lake in the crater of Mount Hakone and is famous for its views of Mt Fuji. However, Mt Fuji was covered in clouds while we were there. In fact it was quite an overcast and rainy day but the weather did not take from the beautiful scenery around the lake. The lake’s shores are mostly undeveloped except for small towns in the east and north and a couple of lakeside resort hotels.

We took a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi, and enjoyed the peaceful autumn scenery. Lake Ashi itself is lovely. It is a caldera lake which is surrounded by steep mountains that are thickly wooded. The air was fresh and cool. The water was calm and very clean and the surrounding areas looked fabulous.

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Torii Gate to the Hakone Shrine

A number of pleasure boats and ferries traverse the lake, providing scenic views for tourists and passengers. Several of the boats on the lake are inspired by the design of western warships.

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The picturesque forested region surrounding Lake Ashi has been popular for hikers and sightseers for centuries.

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We had time to spend in the gift shop at the boat and ferry terminal which worked out well as they have a great variety of gifts and goodies, including souvenirs, wooden charms, candies, cookies etc. The packaging of the cookies and candies is exquisite. Many of these items looked like they were exclusive to the Hakone area. I was able to purchase several nice gifts to take back to Australia.

The boats operating the trips are very impressive and the views across the lake, the woodland and the magnificent properties along the lake’s shore made for a great trip.

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