Hakone

With snow-capped Mount Fuji as a stunning backdrop, the Hakone hot springs have long been a popular place of rest and relaxation for tourists and locals. The Hakone onsen (hot springs) are located in a ravine formed by the Kayakawa and Sukomo rivers near the base of Mount Fuji. Hakone is only one part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. In addition to climbing Mount Fuji, travelers can explore the ice caves and mountain lakes of the nearby Fuji Go-ko (Fuji Five Lakes) before enjoying a relaxing Hakone onsen.

Only 100 kilometers from Tokyo, the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is the most easily accessible of all Japan's outdoor recreation. Proximity, however, means that during most of the year, the area is crowded with foreign and domestic tourists.

There are roughly 16 natural Hakone onsen available for tourists and travelers. There are two basic ways to enjoy your onsen experience. If you are pressed for time and looking to take a day trip to Hakone you may want to try one of the public baths. The Tenzan public bath is a perfect spot for a quick day onsen. The cost is just a few hundred yen. If, however, you plan to stay overnight, you can book a room at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) that have hot spring facilities for their guests. It is also possible to use a one of the ryokan hot springs just for the day without booking a room at the inn. The day use a ryokan Hakone onsen is only slightly more expensive than the public baths, and a good way to enjoy a relaxing soak before heading back to Tokyo.

With a simple map Hakone onsen are accessible to every traveler. Below is a short summary of the region's best hot springs.

Yumoto, at the entrance to the Hakone area, is the region's most famous hot spring. Yumoto has a long history, great waters, and a number of baths and inns to choose from. You may be tempted to stop here, but check your map Hakone hot springs abound further down the valley. The Tenzan onsen are a collection of pools mostly located outdoors. These public baths have a beautiful, Japanese style central bathhouse. Yu No Sato Okada onsen are mainly outdoor pools with nice views of the valley from the main bath house, but not from the pools themselves. Last on you map Hakone No Yu onsen have several pools (some with massage jets) are mainly outdoors but offer no view.

Hakone Gardens Saratoga California

Though a world away in terms of location, the Hakone Gardens Saratoga retain the contemplative and restorative nature of the Japan's Hakone region. The oldest surviving Japanese-style residential gardens in the Western Hemisphere, the Hakone Gardens Saratoga were built as summer retreat by Oliver and Isabel Stine after Isabel returned home from Japan and decided to name the Gardens after one of her favorite places in Japan, the Fuji-Hakone Park.

So if you don't have time to walk through the Hakone grass and marvel at the beauty of the real Hakone in Japan, you can wander through the lush gardens, bushy Hakone grass and listen to the waterfalls at the Hakone Gardens Saratoga.

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