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Hakone, Hakone

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Hakone has hot springs, cool mountain air, and outstanding views of Japan's most famous peak, Mount Fuji. It's also teeming with day-trippers on the weekends, so a weekday visit or overnight stay is best. Leave the train from Tokyo and take the small Tozan line (Japan's first mountain railroad, completed in 1930) to Gora before switching to a cable car and finally a ropeway, which, weather permitting, will give you a magnificent view of Fuji. You can also take a boat—a startling repro galleon—across Lake Ashi, or have a dip in one of the area's mineral-rich hot-spring baths. For overnighters, there are scores of inns and hotels to choose from. A seriously luxurious option is Gora Kadan, a modern Japanese-style inn with open-air baths, a swimming pool, spa, and exquisite kaiseki dinners. Meanwhile, the picturesque Tozan line has several other interesting stops, including Miyanoshita, where you can have tea at the Fujiya Hotel, which dates back to 1878, and Chokoku No Mori, where you can visit the stunning Hakone Open-Air Museum, which has alfresco sculptures by artists such as Rodin and Henry Moore.

Take either the bullet train (Shinkansen) from Tokyo Station to Odawara, or Romance Car train from Shinjuku to Hakone Yumoto. From Odawara and Hakone Yumoto, take the Tozan line. A Hakone Free Pass or Hakone Weekday Pass covers all modes of transport in the Hakone area.

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Gora Kadan and Hakone

Gora Kadan is a slice of heaven on earth. I have been there twice and to sit in the hot springs in the privacy of your room is breathtaking and out of this world.... more

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