fbpx
    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
        dd4d brewing

        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

Three Days Exploring Hakone’s Trails

Hakone is best known for stunning views of Mt. Fuji and luxurious hot spring ryokan. Many visitors do day trips to this popular resort area and hit the hot spots, but staying for multiple days allows you to check out the area at a leisurely pace and get off the main tourist track. One of the benefits having time to explore is walking the extensive network of hiking trails.

Those who lace up their walking shoes will be rewarded with close-up views of Mt. Fuji, Hakone has fascinating history and geology. As the best-preserved post town on the Tokaido Road, it allows visitors to feel like they are making an Edo-period pilgrimage. For a new perspective on Hakone, stay longer – and travel on foot.

Day 1: Hakone Hachiri
Yumoto Hakone is a famous hot spring village at the entrance to the mountainous Hakone Region. The station is only an 1.5 hours from central Tokyo, but the elevated scenery and fresh air make it feel much further away. Hakone Yumoto Station is also the starting point for hikers wanting to delve deeper into Hakone’s natural landscape on their own two feet. Be sure to stop by the tourist information center when you arrive to grab an English area map.

The guide for our three-day adventure is Kaneko Shin, a Hakone native who runs Explore Hakone. He loves explaining the local history and culture to visitors. I immediately learn historical tidbits and interesting facts that only a guide’s knowledge can endow, and I am glad for the opportunity to ask questions. His English is excellent, and we quickly start chatting about Hakone’s quirky uniqueness.

From Hakone Yumoto Station, there are frequent buses whisking visitors to various starting points on the trail, depending on their hiking ability. Another option is to start walking from the station. There are plenty of shrines, temples, cedar-lined avenues and historical markers to explore, no matter where you begin. We take the bus for a few minutes, then walk up a beautiful traditional cobblestone road.

If you are interested in local crafts, check out the Yosegi Zaiku woodwork shops in Hatajuku post town. Yosegi is a traditional Japanese art form that creates beautiful wood patterns. The shops offer souvenirs or Yosegi experiences to make your own.

The highlights of the day was Amasake Chaya. This teahouse began 400 years ago in the Edo Period, serving travelers on the old Tokaido Road. Amazake means sweet sake and refers to the sweet, non-alcoholic drink made from sake production’s leftovers, called sake kasu. They still make amazake the same way they have for centuries, the only ingredients are rice and water. The original Edo-era building was rebuilt about 15 years ago and is a great place to rest, grab a bite and enjoy the authentic teahouse experience.

Yamamoto Satoshi is the head of the business and the 13th generation owner is preserving the customs and recipes his family created over centuries. He takes time away from his busy schedule to explain the amazake process and why he loves his work. He knows his ancestors are watching him from above and wants to make them proud. He also enjoys watching visitors try amazake for the first time, putting a smile on their faces. Undoubtedly, this ometenashi hospitality has allowed the family business to last through the centuries.

Departing Amasake Chaya, a winding trail descends through the forest to Lake Ashinoko. Three thousand years ago, Mt. Hakone’s volcanic eruption formed the crater lake. From Ashinoko, a short bus ride takes us to Hoeiso, a traditional Japanese ryokan, and tonight’s accommodation. The owner proudly demonstrates the gigantic German-designed pellet stove that exclusively uses wood from Yamanashi Prefecture, allowing them to lower energy use. The traditional kaiseki meals here are delicious and the views of the roaring river below from the garden and outdoor bath (heated by the pellet stove) are a perfect way to wrap up the day.

WEB CONNECTION
Explore Hakone explore-hakone.com
Yosegi Zaiku: hakone-japan.com/yosegizaiku/
Amasake Chaya: amasake-chaya.jp / hakonenavi.jp/international/en/spot/586
Hoeso: hoeiso.jp
Hakone Yumoto Google Maps: google.com/maps/@35.2331899,139.1040483,21z

Day 2: The Outer Rim
After a delicious ryokan breakfast, it is time for the hike. There are a few different choices depending on the hiking level of your group. One option is to walk along the shoreline and crater rim of Lake Ashinoko. Although trail maintenance is lacking in some areas, it is a moderate hike with panoramic views of the lake and Mt. Fuji on a clear day.

Our group decides to to take another route, the Ashinoko Skyline Trail. This 13-kilometer hike is moderately challenging with more vertical. However, the trail has multiple scenic locations to stop and take in the views of Mt. Fuji. One sign of civilization that creeps into the serenity of this trail is the distant audible pounding sound of Japan’s self-defense force practice maneuvers. Japan is a contrast of the ancient and the modern this is a stark reminder Hakone is no exception.

On either hike, bring an o-bento (lunch box) or a snack because there are few places in the mountains to purchase food or water. Both trails finish on the North end of Lake Ashinoko, near the Togendai Ropeway Station. There is bus or ropeway access to the Gora area from here.

We check into the Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora. The newly opened Indigo is an excellent contrast to the traditional feel of the first night. There is an onsen to take away any muscle aches, but keep in mind, unlike a typical onsen, Indigo’s hot spring is mixed bathing and a swimming suit is required.

Dinner at the Indigo is a multi-course fusion meal made with Hakone ingredients, including veggies and venison. Stuffed after the meal, I bathe again in the rotenburo (outdoor bath) attached to the room before crashing. The combination of sun, exercise, onsen and food on hiking trips always makes for an excellent night of sleep.

WEB CONNECTION
Lake Ashi Trail: alltrails.com/trail/japan/kanagawa/lake-ashi-trail
Ashinoko Skyline Trail: alltrails.com/trail/japan/kanagawa/ashinoko-skyline-trail
Hotel Indigo: hakonegora.hotelindigo.com

Day 3: The Yusaka Trail
The Yusaka Trail is a pre-Tokugawa Shogunate road developed after the eruption of Mt. Fuji in 802. Even though it is just miles away from the previous two days of walks, the open grassland makes it feel like an entirely new area. Because it was unused, little of the history or structures remain, and it feels more remote than the populated Tokaido Road. Still, there are remnants of human presence here, including the remains of a castle and various Bodhisattva Buddhas that have been dug into the mountain. Summiting Mt. Sengen and visiting Chisuji Falls are some of the trail’s highlights.

The last stop on the hike is Hakone Yuryo, a hot spring day spa and restaurant near Hakone Yumoto Station. Hiking in Hakone, I have grown accustomed to having a hot bath at the end of each day, and it wouldn’t feel like a Hakone hike without one.

On the train ride home I reflect on the journey. Because Hakone is a popular destination, it has a reputation for being crowded and touristy. But sticking to the mountain trails, I have hardly seen a soul. On a long walk, the stresses of daily life disappear, and the only thing to consider is finishing the trail, eating the next meal and the bath at the end of the day. If feels like a primal human experience we periodically need and I look forward to returning to explore more of what Hakone has to offer of the well-trodden tourist trail.

WEB CONNECTION
Yusaka Trail: alltrails.com/explore/trail/japan/kanagawa/miyanoshita-mount-sengen-hakone-yumoto
Hakone Yuryo: hakoneyuryo.jp / hakone-japan.com/things-to-do/onsen/onsen-for-a-day-visit/hakone-yuryo/

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Okinawa’s Treehouse...

Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.

The Spirit of the Kuma Va...

Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.

CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madara...

Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.

Categories