Hakone - a very scenic volcano region next to Lake Ashi in Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan
Hello my dear friends, fellow travelers and photographers, In this New Year 2022, I wish you all the best in the coming years and in good health! Welcome to Chris Lee's Travel Channel. and today we are going to share with you another place that is away from Tokyo City. but much closer to Mount Fuji.
We are still will be in the Kanagawa Prefecture. but we are here now bring you to a volcano region and next to a lake, a beautiful lake. In this region, we are going to have a lot of scenic views of Mount Fuji. So, what I am going to share with you today in this episode number 4, of my journey to Tokyo, will covers 4 main places of interests. Firstly, It is a Hakone Jinja Shrine, and the next on the list will be Owakudani at Hakone Volcano's region.
In this place, I am going to share with you a time-lapsed video. Then, we are moving on to Lake Ashi, also known as Lake Ashinoko. In this lake region, we are going to enjoy our scenic views of Mount Fuji, if under good weather. then we are moving on to a very special and unique Pampas Grass Field, and it is near to Sengokuhara (district).
a region just next to the Hakone area. So, today we will confine our travel to Hakone region. So we have moved out from the Kanto region, We are moving to Chubu region. And a quick one.
For those who first time joining this travelogue. Japan is on the eastern most part of Asia, and here, we are now covering the Chubu region have been circled (on this map). Chubu region in Japan (language) is also meant Central Region. We are now covering and zoom in to an area we called it Hakone region.
In this region, you can see that It is just next to Mount Fuji in this map. Mount Fuji is covered under the Green circle, but the area that we are covering today is covered under the red circle area. So now, if you look at this geographic map or topographic map, you notice that Mount Hakone is not far from the sea, actually from the Sagami Bay.
and right next to it (Mount Hakone) is the Lake Ashi, so today our visit will confine to the Mount Hakone as well as cover the Lake Ashi. of course, the region that we are covering to day is under the Kanagawa Prefecture. This is the Tourist Map of Hakone region, and Hakone region can be easily accessed and accessible from Tokyo, It has all forms of transport, include the rails, the trains, rope-ways as well as buses.
which you just need to purchase the 'Hakone Free Pass'. Once you have this Free Pass, you can have unlimited rides and you can move freely in this region, which I strongly recommend to those visitors who are on a free and easy journey. So our first place of interest today will be the Hakone Jinja Shrine. This is a very popular Shrine, as we move along, I will share with you some background of this Shrine. Now, just look at this map, you realised that I have marked A, B & C.
A is the location of this Hakone Jinja Shrine. we will later on cover the part (location) B as well as part (location) C. and you notice there is a lake here, this lake are basically the Lake ashi. I will touch a bit the back ground of this region. Hakone Jinja Shrine or Hakone Gongen, is a Shinto shrine.
It is about 100km from Tokyo city If you take a ride, a transport on a car, it will take you 2.5 hours to arrive. and it is located in the Hakonemachi Ashigarashimo district in Kanagawa Prefecture. Hakone Jinja Shrine stand at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shoreline of Lake Ashinoko which commonly referred to Lake Ashi.
which I will referred it as Lake Ashi from now on. Lake Ashi is a long narrow lake formed about 3000 years ago and with a 19km length of shoreline. This Shirine is famous for its huge torii gates with one stood prominently in the Lake Ashi and 2 others over the main street of Moto-Hakone (or highway). These torii gates being regarded as the ‘ Archway of Peace’.
So now you can see in this image, this is one of the 3 Torii gates. of course, this Torii gate is sited just next to the highway or main street I mentioned just now. The Shrine was originally on the summit of Komagatake Peak of Mount Hakone and was subsequently relocated to current location in the year 1667. The main building of the shrine sits peacefully among the tall trees of Hakone forest The image now shared with you is indicating (the position) when you are inside the Torii Gate and look outward, and at the far end will be the Lake Ashi. Next to Lake Ashi, this huge lake front, They built a Torii Gate (into the lake), and this Torii Gate can be seen in this image, was built in the year 1951 It is clearly visible from Moto-Hakone Boat-Pier not far away.
This Shrine has been used regularly for boat launching ceremony, even up till today. and it is for this reason, this torii gate have been given the name, as I mentioned earlier the Archway of Peace, which give blessing to any new launched of boats. Japanese believe by visiting this shrine will get rid of bad luck and bring in good one, improve road safety as well as good marriage.
I did get blessing for road safety because while on the road, road safety is very important to me. So now, let proceed with the images proper of this Shrine. You can see one of the pretty ladies (of our group) was lying on the stone-way that built into the Lake Ashi, She was trying to capture the best angle (of view) of this Torii Gate. This is another (angle of) view of this Torii Gate.
In order to reach the Shrine, as it was built on mid-hill, at the foothill of Mount Hakone, therefore we have to walk pass this long stairway, leading us all the way to the mid-hill. On both sides of this walkway (or stairway) you can see there are all old tall trees, rows of trees on both sides. Another angle of view (from the street) from top down, now you can see the Torii Gate that sits next to Lake Ashi which I have shown you just now in the images. Finally we come to this main temple building, One interesting and very unique sight of this Shrine is that they have a lot of torii gates here and there.
For instance, to enter to this Main Shrine's Prayer Hall, or Prayer area, you can see that we also being welcomed by a red torii gate. These are some of the surrounding views of this Shrine. and, everywhere you will walk pass smaller torii gates, within the Shrine's compound.
Even these pillars supporting the roof of this small building, it is also in the form of torii gate. A very interesting architectural style; Japanese tradition and architectural style are well exhibited in this Shrine. Some of the worshipers that we met in this Shrine. In this building, in the inner part, there is a wishing trough, which I would like to call it. The worshipers will then through coins into this wishing trough then make a wish. There are many other ancillary small buildings around.
This is one of the very interesting stone lanterns. This is another one. This look much older. you you can also find some of these (display) within the Shrine's compound. This look like a tomb stone. and of course, every shrine or every temple we visited in Japan you definitely will come across Purification Trough within the temple/shrine's compound.
The Japanese also coming here to make a wish. This is actually the fortune papers. where the worshipers were then pick one of them randomly, and from there to get to know what is their fortune is for the year to come.
In Japanese language it is called Omikuji. After they read this fortune paper, they will then tied it onto a rope as can be seen in this image, and left it in the temple or shrine's compound. Alternatively they can make their wishes, by writing their wishes on a small piece of timber plate as can be seen in this image.
and they hang it in the temple and hope that their wishes can come through. From this Shrine, we are moving to the volcano region. and it is called Owakudani. From the image here you can see that this is an active volcano region. in this Hakone area. If you look at the map, you can see that there is an arrow pointed to, this is where we are, and it is along a Rope-way.
In other words, to access to this region, you can access by the Rope-way. Of course, if you have the Hakone Free Pass, then the Hakone Free Pass will also include this Rope-way rides. You can take the Rope-way to reach here (Owakudani).
So now, we are in the area marked C in this map. Just now we are in area marked A, so we are moving to Mark C now. So this (image) is just to show you the transport system available in this Hakone region, and all these are well covered under the Hakone Free Pass. We went there by road, we then parked our vehicle at the car park area as shown in this map. We then walked up to the main attraction area.
The tourist attraction areas as can be seen in this map. and you will notice there are quite a lot of stream vents and also you can find a lot of hot-spring around. They also have created quite a lot of trekking paths in this region. This image shown the Main Tourist Centre Building in this famous Owakudani.
Let share a bit (back ground) of this Owakudani. Owakudani is the area around a crater created during a major eruption of Mount Hakone some 3000 years ago. The same year where the Lake Ashi is formed. Today much of the area is under active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot-springs and hot-rivers can be found nearby. During the mid-year of 2019, which only two and half year ago, Owakudani was closed to publics due to the active volcanic activities that took place during that period. and that was right after our trip to Japan.
Mount Hakone Rope-way is part of the Hakone Round Course, a popular way to visit Hakone. It connects Sounzan Station (at the terminus of the Hakone Tozan Cablecar) then, with Togendai Station at the shore of Lake Ashi and then stop at Owakudani and Ubako Station (on the way). So, in other words, if you are prepared to come in by the Rope-way, then you can easily access to this tourist center as well as reach the Lake Ashi to enjoy your lake view. During a good day, if you are lucky, you can have a very scenic view of the Mount Fuji from this spot. We took quite a lot of photographs while we parked our car at carpark area.
We can view the Mount Fuji clearly. When you visiting Owakudani, you can purchase eggs cooked in the naturally hot spring water, whose shells are then turned into black colour; blacken in the sense, and they like to call it 'Black egg'. caused by the sulfur and the locals believe that after eaten these eggs your life can be prolonged by 7 years.
One of our team mates has bought some of these eggs, and she shared with us, and I hope that my life can be lengthen by 7 years. Let hope it take effect. at the same time, I did mentioned that coming to this place, beside just enjoy the scenic views at the same time should enjoy the 'Onsen'. (bathing in Hot-spring water pool). because of the abundancy of hot-spring, A lot of hotels in this region do provide Onsen for their visitor and guests. Let move around with the images. This is just the view of the Main Tourist Center's region.
Cable-car is within view, as can be seen in this image. The best way to see this volcano region is by way of Cable-car or the Rope-way. At the volcano's valley or crater area, you can see the emission of sulfurous smoke and also the steam vents. The sulfurous powder were then deposited on the surfaces of the grounds (or slopes). You can see the yellowish in colour powder. This is the image of the steam vents. There are quite a number of temples around, to give blessing to the visitors.
This image was taken while we are at the Carpark area. You can see the semi-covered Mount Fuji clearly. but we still can see the summit of Mount Fuji clearly from this image. This is the 'Black eggs' that I referred to, that will lengthen your life by 7 years. It is just the shell that has been blacken.
I am going to share you a time-lapse video. This is the time-lapse video (of the sulfurous smoke filled valley or crater). We then move on to next place of interest. and we called it Boat-Pier of Lake Ashi. Some people like to call it "Moto-Hakeno Boat-Pier", because it is located along the Moto-Hakeno highway, or the main road that linking these 2 main towns. In the image, you will notice there is a pirate-ship-liked ship, This is a Tourist ship, that ferry the visitors and tourists, having a boat cruise on the Lake Ashi. In other words, from now on I will share with you on the Lake Ashi and its location is highlighted in this map.
You notice that Lake Ashi is at the south-eastern part of Mount Fuji. Around Lake Ashi, In this map the Boat-pier is in the location marked B. as shown in this arrow.
and (the boat-pier) is being recommended as one of the view-points to view Mount Fuji. and we are going to show you some images of this boat-pier area. This region, to a greater extend being treated as the resorts for the Japanese during the weekends, So you can find quite fair bit of amusement activities, For example, you can see a lot of boats, water sport facilities, things like that, around this region. So you can easily have a paddle-boat ride. During our visit, it was quite a cloudy day, So we are unable to view Mount Fuji at this View-point.
although it is being recommended. And now we move on to our last place of interest. You will be surprised why I bring you to this Pampas Grass field! Let touch a bit this Pampas Grass, for some of you who are not familiar with. Sengokuhara Pampas Grassfield is located and covering a portion of the west slope of Mount Hakone in the Sengokuhara area of Hakone. Pampas, a kind of long stalk grass, it is also known as ‘Susuki’ in Japanese.
The colour of grass undergo seasonal changes from bright green in summer, mix of green and light yellow around September and to a brilliant whitish gold by early November. In winter, the grasses turn brown and die. It is for this reason, we came to this place. It is to capture this goldish white grass and I will share with you more images and why this place is a popular spot for photographers.
So, let look at the map here. We are in a small town, just at the western slope of Mount Hakone. You notice the green area (on the map) this is the Pampas Grassfield.
There is one leading path (in the grassfield), all the way up hill, as can be seen in this image (cutting across the grassfield). of course, not to the top (of the hill), just a short raise in level. From this image, you can see the goldish white Pampas Grass covered the entire field. because our visit was during the month of November. falls into the autumn season.
So, more views of this Pampas Grassfield. In fact, this is the perfect spot for landscapes photographers. We are trekking up (the leading path) all the way.
It is not a long trek. This is the highest point of this Grassfield. Our visit was quite close to the evening, and god blessed us, that we had a good weather on that day. The evening sun was even enhanced the goldish colour of these Pampas grasses.
These are few of the images I liked most. because of the clear blue sky with patches of cloud, and with beautiful evening sun that made these images stand out. Here are some of the close-up (images) of these Pampas Grasses. I would like to call (or name) it as "Abstracts". In photography, we like to referred it as "Abstracts". A close-up of Pampas Grass can creating very unique and very beautiful image.
Now you can see the setting sun. Surrounding view in this region. So, here are the Abstracts of these Pampas Grass which I took during this trip, just to share with you. against a dark background under exposed it. (sorry not over exposed it). Take (the shot) against (or face) the sun.
This is the end of my today tour of this journey to Japan the 4th episode, and ... We shall continue our journey to Japan on the 5th, 6th and 7th, another 3 more episodes. again, we will be covering around the foot-hill region of Mount Fuji, and we are going to move you to another beautiful lake around Mount Fuji. Please stay tuned! If you are still with me at this hours of the day, I believed that you have been entertained. If you have not subscribed, please do so and please help to promote this travel channel by sharing to your friends and families. Again in this New Year's Day, the first day of the new year 2022, I again sincerely wish and bless everyone of you, to all my viewers and supporters, good health and a very well blessing year ahead of you.
Lastly, please stay tuned for my coming episode, and hope you will be with me again next week, at the same time. Please stay safe and stay strong till we meet again! Thank you! BYE!