On my weekend road trip around Kanagawa, I dedicated the first day to visit Hakone and ride through the mountain roads of the area. Once I arrived to the lake Ashi, or Ashinoko, I decided to take a break for lunch and explore by feet the surroundings of the lake. One of the most popular sides of the lake is the Moto-Hakone area, where Hakone shrine grounds are located.
The first time I saw the lake was on a school trip from the detached Palace, far away from the lake. A popular spot to even see the Fuji on clear days. The symbol and pride of Hakone is the view of lake Ashi with the Fuji in the background. I visited Hakone a few times, and yet never seen the Mount Fuji from there. Around the lake shores, except for small towns and few hotel resorts, there’s not much activity. Going on a sightseeing cruise on the lake is one of the options. Only by stepping in one of the ships is worth the experience to feel like the royalty, or a pirate. On my road trip, I landed in Moto-Hakone by the Tokaido road.
From Moto-Hakone, near the sightseeing cruise harbours lies the Hakone shrine. It can’t be seen from distance, as its grounds are deep surrounded by the forest. Yet, following the red torii gates on the path is easy to get there. One of the top sights at lake Ashi is the red torii gate stnading in the shore of the lake, connecting the path to Hakone shrine. Some shrines are best seen on clear days, but this one is best on cloudy, misty days. The ambience of the forest makes it a special spot to imagine tales of old Japan.
Lunch at Moto-Hakone
There are few local restaurants and konbini in the grounds of Moto-Hakone. Try the soba noodles or katsudon at any of them for a good lunch deal. In the restaurant I choose, with views over the lake, I did recover my energy with a delicious Katsudon set. At one of the walls, there was a map of the area, and the kind woman serving at the restaurant gave me a few tips on the roads and where to head next on my road trip. To Odawara castle.