Lake Ashi (Ashinoko) is a forest-fringed lake within the ranges of Mount Hakone. The lake was formed within Mount Hakone’s caldera, after the volcano erupted 3,000 years ago. Today, it is a pristine area dotted with small villages, lakeside resorts, pleasant walking paths and dense forests.
Visit Moto-Hakone, a town on the lake’s eastern side that hugs the base of Mount Byobu. A leisurely 1-hour lakeside stroll will bring you to Onshihakone Park, Hakone Detached Palace and Garden, the Hakone Shrine and the village of Hakone-Machi. From the southerly end of this walk, you can catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji aligning with Lake Ashi.
Visit the Hakone Detached Palace, a former summer residence for the Imperial Family, to spot the red torii gates coming out of the water on the opposite bank, marking the entry to the Hakone Shrine. This stunning Shinto shrine is located a short walk from Moto-Hakone. Visit the shrine to experience its solemn spiritual atmosphere and traditional architecture. The shrine is located at the end of a pathway flanked with cedar trees and red lanterns. Snap a photograph of the lake framed through the striking red torii gates.
Take in the view of the lake’s silvery surface from aboard a sightseeing boat. Boats cruise across the lake in approximately 30 minutes and offer the chance to see Lake Ashi’s stunning wild escarpments and mountain vistas. You can ride on a ferry or a boat themed like a pirate ship. Hakone Free Passholders can enjoy free access to the fun-filled pirate ships. Boat trips operate between the southern villages of Moto-Hakone and Hakone-Machi to the northern towns of Togendai and Kojiri.
Lake Ashi can be reached by bus, rail and ropeway. Purchase a Hakone Free Pass to gain unlimited access to the scenic railway, cable car, ropeway and selected buses and boats. Traditional ryokan (inns) and lakeside resorts can be found in each town. Don’t miss the chance to soak in an outdoor hot spring bath (onsen) while visiting Lake Ashi. Take in views of the surrounding mountains any time of the year while relaxing in these Japanese-style spas.