VIDEO: Exploring Japan: Daytrip to Hakone from US bases

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO: Exploring Japan: Daytrip to Hakone from US bases

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

You don’t have to drive long to reach Hakone, a famous tourist spot in Japan, if you’re stationed in the Kanto-area bases. From Camp Zama and NAF Atsugi, it’s a short one-hour ride for an onsen haven with great views, great art and many cultural points-of-interest.

Head there along the Hakone Turnpike from Odawara Town to Lake Ashinoko for some fresh mountain air, seasonal flowers and crystal blue waters. The Mt. Daikanzan parking area on the top of turnpike is a great stop to make for a splendid view of majestic Mt. Fuji and the impressive Hakone Mountain Range.

A little further down the road, Hakone Sekisho checkpoint, close to Lake Ashinoko, is an elaborate collection of restored wooden gates and buildings built by the Edo Shogunate Government 400 years ago. Wax figures of samurai warriors demonstrate the inspections travelers were subjected to during the ruling of the Edo Shogunate. While there, be sure to climb up to the watchhouse on the hill, to appreciate the grounds and surrounding landscape of this picturesque area.

Take a shopping break for souvenirs, eggs and manju buns filled with azuki bean jam, or quick local soba lunch near the checkpoint.

There are plenty of activities to do in Hakone that one day isn’t enough to see them all. Fortunately, the area is close enough to return to often and is a great place for a quick escape!   

Mt. Daikanzan Parking Area (Sky Lounge & Observatory)
Location: 955 Kajiya, Yugawara Town, Kanagawa Prefecture (on Hakone Turnpike)

Hakone Sekisho (Checkpoint)
Location: 1 Hakone, Hakone Town, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: middle schoolers or older: 500 yen, elementary schoolers: 250 yen
Tel: 0460-83-6635

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