As the cherry blossoms gets blown by the warm Spring wind coming from the south, I’m almost filled with a pang of loss as the fragile petals daintily flit about wherever the wind will carry it. Yet again, I am reminded of the fragility of life. Am reminded as well that in due season, the cherry blossoms will bloom again. And then, I am comforted. But I am comforted too with the thought that the warmer wind will bring about the luxuriant azaleas or tsutsuji as they are known in Japan; those shrubbery flowers that grow in profusion and never fails to bring out a smile after the cherry blossoms had left.
In Hakone, there are a number of azaleas spots that tourists can enjoy during the Golden week. Same as with the cherry blossoms however, timing is key to optimum viewing albeit the azaleas blooms have longer life spans than the cherry blossoms since they are more resilient from the wind.
Optimum visiting time in Hakone for azaleas viewing is around the Golden Week (how perfect can that be?! Peak blooming time during a week-long vacation!). We visited the place however, a week after the Golden Week hence a couple or so of the famous tsutsuji spots were already past their prime bloom. Thankfully though, Hakone Hotel Kagetsuen and Odakyu Hotel de Yama were still in good bloom and it made our visit worth our while.
First off, Hotel de Yama. During the Golden Week when tsutsujis are in their full bloom, Hotel de Yama holds an annual fair for viewing of the blooms. You need not check-in on the hotel just to see the blooms however one-day admission tickets at 800 yen are sold right at the entrance to the hotel’s garden.
Overlooking Lake Ashi, the Odakyu Hotel de Yama’s gardens is an idyllic place for a leisurely morning sightseeing or a relaxing afternoon stroll (or a siesta, if you could grab a vacant park bench).
Describe beautiful. This!
Second pit stop, the Hakone Hotel Kagetsuen. Alas however, the azaleas were already a bit past their prime bloom. Nevertheless, they were still breathtaking.
We shall make sure to visit Hakone earlier next year to catch the blooms in their prime and visit the Hakone Gora Park and Horaien as well to maximize the tsutsuji fest.
Now, as for access!
[Hotel De Yama]
Take the Hakone Tozan Bus (Hakonemachi Line) from Odawara Station to Moto-Hakone Ko. Then at Moto-Hakone Ko, look for shuttle buses going to Hotel De Yama. Hakone Tozan Bus and the shuttle bus to Hotel De Yama are covered by the all-powerful Hakone Free Pass so hold on to your Hakone Free Pass! If in case you don’t have Hakone Free Pass with you, be sure to get a boarding ticket at the bus entrance upon boarding which you’ll be needing to pay for your fare when you get off the bus. You can pay by cash or by using PASMO. You can also top up your PASMO cards at the bus.
[Hakone Hotel Kagetsuen]
Take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise from Moto-Hakone Ko to Togendai Ko. Then, take the Hakone Tozan Bus (Togendai Bus) from Togendai Ko to Minami-Onsenso. Tozan Bus / Togendai Bus is covered as well by the Hakone Free Pass.
For more information → http://www.odakyu.jp/english/destination/hakone/