[2018 Edition] 30 Things to Do in Hakone (Part 2 of 6)
Hakone is one of the most visited places in Japan, and its close proximity to Tokyo makes it an ideal destination for a day trip from the capital. It is known for its rich nature, as well as numerous parks. This article is part of a series introducing 30 things to include in your Hakone travel itineraries. Have you been to any of these 5 places?
Oct 18 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
Walk through a Field of Gold at Sengoku Plateau
On one of the mountains surrounding Mt. Hakone is a rolling plateau called "Sengoku", renowned for its glorious field of Japanese pampas grass. The vast field is covered in tall grass that changes color throughout the year, from bright green in early summer to golden yellow in the fall.
The best season to visit? Autumn, of course! This is when the entire plateau becomes an ocean of golden-colored pampas that ripple like waves each time the wind blows. From early to mid-March, the fields are burned to promote the growth of the pampas grass and to protect the eco system.
Take a Stroll Around Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands
Situated at the center of Sengokuhara Onsen, Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands (Hakone Shissei Kaen) offers a display of around 200 species that are unique to the wetlands of Japan, in addition to 1,100 types of highland plants and forest and grassland species.
Breathe in the fresh air as you stroll through marshy grasslands, swamps, streams, hills, and alpine forests, and observe the unique species of native plants that are unique to each biome.
Looking to go to Hakone and Mt. Fuji for a day trip? Check out the article below for a handy tour departing from Shinjuku!
Enjoy the Views at Onshi-Hakone Park
On the small peninsula that protrudes out onto Lake Ashino is the former Imperial villa, which has now been converted into a scenic park for the public while still retainng its grandeur. Onshi-Hakone Park offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, including Mt. Fuji, and visitors can enjoy the seasonal flowers and greenery along the paths, hills, and the beautifully maintained gardens.
The park is excellent for a casual stroll on a gorgeous day, and for reveling in the serenity and splendor of the picturesque landscape!
Hakone Gora Park, Where Different Flowers Bloom Each Season
In Hakone's Gora area lies Japan's oldest French-style garden, which dates back to 1914. Hakone Gora Park was built on a slope amongst boulders and mountainous terrain, creating a unique landscape dotted with steps and inclines. The selection of flowers tells the coming of each season as they go into full bloom at different times of the year. The cherry trees in spring and hydrangeas in the summer attract countless visitors, and their rose garden is also superb.
The park also hosts events and workshops throughout the year. You can try your hand at traditional crafts like pottery and glass blowing, or get culturally inspired with a tea ceremony. You can get your creative juices flowing at their workshops, such as sandblasting on glassware and glass bead jewelry-making. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a fun-filled day at Hakone Gora Park.
Speaking of flowers, here are a couple that you may spot at this garden.
Walk the Stone-Paved Hakone Kyukai Road
In the Edo period (1603 - 1867), porters and travelers going between the eastern and western parts of Japan used a main road called "Tokai Road" (Tokai-do). Hakone was one of the posts along the Tokai Road, but because of the mountainous landscape and the steep inclines of this area, it was considered one of the hardest points to get through. To add to the misery, travelers had to trudge through shin-deep mud puddles on wet days.
It is speculated that around 1680, the Tokugawa Shogunate took measures by setting stones on the path to ensure the safety of the pedestrians. A portion of it still remains today as the Hakone Kyukai Road (Hakone Kyukai-do, old Tokai-do). It is an unmissable spot for those who are interested in traveling back in time by literally following the path of our ancestors.
This selection of sightseeing spots are great for enjoying the outdoors. However, this was just a glimpse into what Hakone has to offer. Next time, we will introduce some ways to enjoy the area by cable car, train, and pirate ship! Watch this space for the next article in the series!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.