The Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park (or Fuji-Hakone-Izu Kokuritsu Koen in Japanese) stretches across three prefectures and into the Western Tokyo metropolitan area itself. Under its umbrella fall a variety of tourist spots from mountains, parks and beaches to forests, islands and lakes, and it is to the latter of these that we turn our inquisitive gaze now.
Hakone, in Kanagawa Prefecture is a world renowned tourist spot and best known for its hot springs, mountainous terrain, views of Mount Fuji on a clear day and Hakone Lake itself. This last location is not just a simple lake but it is in fact a deep crater that has become filled with water, since its last eruption around 900 years ago. It is more commonly referred to as Ashi-no-ko in Japanese which means the Lake of Reeds. A common way of enjoying Ashi-no-ko is to take one of the many pleasure cruises that regularly crisscross its surface. However, this is simply one of a number of delightful ways of enjoying the lake and its environs. Here is an alternative that perhaps you have not considered: Nestled along the lake shore, mere metres from waterline, is the Ashi-no-ko Camping Village. Why not spend a night or two by the lake in warmth and comfort?
The Ashi-no-ko Camping Village is primarily composed of individual wooden cabins that can house up to six people each. They are hugged by the trees that grow around the lake and their large windows directly look out over the 1’750 acres of the lake’s surface in addition to affording clear views of the mountains themselves. The cabins are furnished and come with a full kitchen, a bathroom, separate toilet, communal room and two bedrooms that can each sleep three: two on a bunk bed and one on a single bed. The cabins come in conjoined pairs with an outdoor barbecue terrace linking them. You can hire out a gas barbeque from the campsite itself and this can form the basis for a great evening’s entertainment after you have spent the day exploring the area. There is also a restaurant and some small shops if you do not fancy cooking for yourself. Each cabin is fully heated with toasty metal European style radiators, meaning that this is a place you can visit in the season of your choice irrespective of the weather. Definitely something to bear in mind as the lake is over 2’300ft above sea level and is considerable cooler than Tokyo on any given day.
If you come by car then you will need to use National Route 138 then travel up many windy circuitous roads to reach the campsite. I recommend that you pack a strong stomach for this. There is a small car park at the site upon your arrival.
However, probably a far smoother mode of transport is to come by train. The nearest station is Odawara. If you are coming from Tokyo then it is easiest to get the “Romancecar” from Shinjuku on the Odakyu Odawara Line. This limited express train will stylishly and comfortably take you directly to Odawara station in just over an hour for the price of a quality cup of coffee and a cake. It travels through the beautiful Japanese countryside that lies between the two stops so the time will fly by. Upon arrival you will find that Odawara is a great place to do some souvenir shopping or pick up some of the delicious local sweets and other delicacies that are on offer, so I would recommend giving yourself a little time to look around here too whilst you have the chance. Additionally, if you are an anime fan then the Evangelion shop next to the station is a must-go-to destination for some unique keepsakes. From Odawara station you will need to get a bus bound for Togendai from the bus station located just outside the station. You get off at the Lake Hotel-Mae stop and follow the signs for the campsite and then you can begin to enjoy your sojourn in the heart of a beautiful natural landscape.
For more information → Odakyu Limited Express “Romancecar”