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Less than two hours away from Japan’s capital city Tokyo is Hakone, where you’ll find plenty of things to do whatever your interests are. Visit this popular town to see the iconic Mount Fuji, enjoy Japanese hot spring baths or stay in a traditional ryokan.
Take a short walk from Gora Station and explore the beautiful French style Gora Park in the heart of Hakone. Designed by Shichigoro Isshiki and opened in 1914, it features a fountain, flower garden and a tropical botanic garden. Stroll through the manicured park and admire the picture-perfect views of Hakone. Visit the adjoining Hakuun-do Chaen teahouse for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony or enjoy a cake in Café Pic, opposite the fountain.
Hakone is one of the best places to get unrivalled views of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. Dormant since 1707, this distinctive cone-shaped volcano stands at an impressive 12,388 feet and is one of the country’s best-known symbols. Weather permitting, you can enjoy on a walking tour to the top of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, if you’re feeling adventurous, that is.
Alternatively, take a cable car from Gora to Owakudani Station to see the mountain from a safe distance. Don’t forget to pack your surgical mask to prevent inhaling the unpleasant sulphur from the adjoining Owakudani Valley. Before you leave, visit the station’s gift shop for traditional souvenirs, UPF 50+ umbrellas and skin care. Yes, even around Mount Fuji you’ll find sheet masks.
No day trip to Hakone would be complete without visiting onsens, individual hot spring baths. Yunessun Spa Resort is paradise if you’re looking to reap the health benefits of onsens like kick-starting your metabolism, alleviating skin conditions or banishing muscle pain. Onsens are particularly helpful if you’ve been on your feet all day.
Yunessun offers a variety of onsens including sake, green tea, coffee beans and red wine, all packed with vitamins and minerals. Temperatures in onsens can get up to approximately 39°C and while many onsens offer no clothes areas, Yunessun allow bathing costumes.
Staying in a traditional ryokan in Hakone is highly recommended. This unique style of accommodation allows you to immerse yourself in the Japanese lifestyle. Smaller than your typical hotel, ryokans are made from wood, bamboo, sliding paper screens and straw mats. Rooms include low tables and chairs, fold away futons and green tea to help you relax.
Part of the ryokan experience involves wearing the traditional yukata robe. First, make sure you tie it correctly with the left side over the right and finish with the obi sash worn across your waist. Mealtimes at ryokans are the ultimate culinary delight as staff prepare Washoku, a collection of traditional Japanese foods like pickled radish, vegetable tempura and udon noodles served with beef.
The Little Prince Museum
The Little Prince Museum is a quaint museum dedicated to the world’s most translated book, The Little Prince. Explore the history behind the famous book and find out more about the life of the author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The museum is filled with The Little Prince drawings and rooms re-created to emulate Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s childhood home. Make your way through each room and use the provided stamps dotted about the museum to stamp in the booklet you receive at the entrance.
The outside is designed to look like a traditional French village. You’ll find replica posters on the buildings, Parisian bakery signs and a beautiful French-style chapel decorated with flowers and lights. Finally, stroll around the stunning European gardens filled with beautiful flowers or enjoy a sweet treat in the restaurant.
Discover more of my Japan holiday with my Top 7 Things to do in Tokyo post on the blog today!