Lake Ashi is a crater lake located in the quaint mountain town of Hakone, Japan. Also referred to as Lake Hakone, Lake Ashi offers visitors some of the most beautiful views of Mt. Fuji from its Onshihakone Park. Unfortunately, we were unable to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji as the day we arrived was overcast and stayed that way till we left. But we were still captivated by its size, beauty, and serenity.
Getting To Lake Ashi
For starters you need to get from Tokyo to Hakone. From the Hakoneyumoto train station Lake Ashi is only 10 kms but it can take anywhere between 20-30 minutes to reach it by bus. That’s thanks to the steep and curvy mountain roads. Bus tickets aren’t cheap either; almost a 1,000 yen one way.
You could also take a taxi, but then again, rides start at 750 yen. Buses also ply from other parts of the town. Take a bus heading to the Motohakone bus station. That’s where Lake Ashi is located.
Protip: Bus services stop around 17:00-18:00. We didn’t know this and had to catch whichever was the last bus at 17:45. It dropped us at Hakoneyumoto, from where we took a cab to our hotel. So it’s well worth checking out the bus schedule in advance.
Things To Do At Lake Ashi
Although you could sit and admire the beauty at Lake Ashi, there are few other activities to consider.
1. Visit The Hakone Shrine
The Hakone Shrine is located at the banks of Lake Ashi. Although I did not visit the shrine, its red torii gate can be seen floating in the lake from almost any point.
2. Take A Cruise On Lake Ashi
Probably one of the more popular activities on Lake Ashi is to set sail on the pirate boat. The cruise takes you around the lake, showcases the natural beauty of the area, of course you get to see Mt Fuji.
As the cruise is really popular, it’s probably a good idea to book the cruise in advance.
3. Visit The Onshihakone Park
The Onshihakone Park is a beautiful park located on a tiny hill on the shores of Lake Ashi. Even if we didn’t catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, the park itself was a consolation. We got some amazing views of the lake, the floating torii and the pirate ship that take tourists around the lake. I also got an opportunity to fly my quadcopter and get some great aerial photos of the lake and park.
Grabbing Lunch Or Coffee
We did spend a considerable amount of time at Lake Ashi, right from noon till the last bus left for Hakoneyumoto at 17:45. And although I have no benchmark of neighbouring restaurants, I would still highly recommend this soba noodle restaurant opposite the Motohakone bus stand. The soba and the tempura here was absolutely delicious!
Right opposite this restaurant (and slightly away from the bus stop) is an awesome cafe and bakery. Not only does the cafe have outdoor seating on the shores of Lake Ashi but also has a hot spring (onsen) running under the seating. Grab a coffee and dip your feet into the water, and enjoy the sites of the lake.