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Fuji Hakone Izu National Park

Listed under National Parks in Kanto, Japan.

Photo of Fuji Hakone Izu National Park
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The Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is home to many of the best attractions Japan has to offer. The Fuji Mountains, the Fuji five Lakes, the city of Hakone, and the Izu Islands and peninsula are just some of the many parts of this sprawling park. Hakone's hot springs dot the park - Yumoto is one of Japan’s most famous hot springs and provides hot water to many of the parks bath houses. Lake Ashi was formed by an erupting volcano more than 3,000 years ago and currently, when visibility allows, its shores provide one of the best views of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Further Information on the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.

Written by  Tony Owusu.

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As with anywhere else in the world, Japan has its fair share of tourist traps, and Hakone is one of them. It's a volcanically active area of Japan just outside of Tokyo, set around a dormant volcano caldera in which sits an expansive lake. It's proximity to Tokyo makes it an easy and popular daytrip for native and foreign tourists alike.

The Hakone tourist board know all-too-well that the area is an appealing destination, and so they have ramped up the tourist activity in the vicinity to what would be anywhere else as unmanageable. However, given this is Japan, the tourist sites have been given a comical, even surreal twist, and it's for this reason that I heartily recommend this tourist trap.

A day at Hakone starts with a walk through the bubbling, sulphurous pools of hot water and gas that leak up from the earth. The stench is terrible, so if you need to pass any wind that you've been storing up, amongst the sulphur pools is the time to do it. If you skipped breakfast - it takes a while before you can stomach plain rice in the morning - you'll appreciate the little stalls that sell eggs boiled in the hot water pools. They are blackened by the process, and taste extra eggy, but are delicious with a bit of sprinkled salt.

Next, you progress to a cable car ride. This gives you a lovely, sedate view of the caldera, the lake and its surrounding forests. Even on a cloudy day it's still an impressive sight. You can liven up the journey by waving madly at anyone in passing cable cars, and seeing if you get a wave back.

Finally, the tourist treadmill shuffles you onto a boat, to cross the lake to the other side. However, it's no ordinary boat. It's nothing less than a pirate ship, kitted out in cutesy fashion with fake pirates. The natives love it; foreign tourists tend to be a little more bemused by the whole thing, but go with the flow and have your picture taken with Jimlad and co, and pretend you're 8 again!

So yes, Hakone is well and truly a tourist trap, and it bodes you well to know this beforehand. Those coming to Hakone to expect an untouched forest/volcano paradise will be disappointed. But embrace the opportunist commercialism of the place, load up your ironic sense of humour, and you'll find Hakone a rib-tickling and thoroughly worthwhile travel experience.

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