In the shadow of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi, aka Lake Ashinoko, is a scenic spot in Hakone National Park. Considered sacred by the Japanese, it is home to the famous Hakone Shinto shrine. Visitors come to see the shrine, take a boat out on the lake, or enjoy the many hiking trails in the area.
Lake Ashi sits in the volcanic crater of Mount Hakone’s volcanic crater. Aside from the natural beauty and holy Hakone shrine, the lake and surrounding area are known for its many hot springs (onsen). Japanese inns with spa bathhouses (ryokan) can be found in the area surrounding the lake, and many visitors take the opportunity to try traditional Japanese spa rituals here.
A popular tourist destination that's often part of day trips from Tokyo, Lake Ashi is also home to the Narukawa Museum of Art, plus restaurants and historic sites, such as the 400-year-young Old Tokaido Road lined with Japanese cedars, and the well-preserved Hakone Shrine. Traveling to Mount Fuji 5th Station on the Hakone Komagatake Ropeway cable car is one of the top activities to try in the area.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Receive discounted access to multiple attractions and regional transport, including buses, trains, cable cars, and boat trips, with a combined pass.
- Some areas of the lake are wheelchair accessible.
- For the best photo ops of Lake Ashi with Mount Fuji in the background, head to Moto-Hakone, south of the sightseeing boat pier, or hop on a sightseeing cruise.
- Views of Mount Fuji tend to be clearer in the mornings and late afternoons.
- Families enjoy a lake cruise on the Hakone pirate ship replica.
How to Get There
Many opt to visit Lake Ashi, in the Hakone area in Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshu, via bullet train from Tokyo, which stops at Odawara Station (followed by bus transfer), or as part of a guided tour with round-trip transport provided, usually by car, or a combination of coach and bullet train.
When to Get There
Warm and often-sunny spring (March–May) is the most popular time to visit Lake Ashi. Summer is quite hot and humid, fall can be very pleasant with unpredictable weather, and winter often sees snowfall around the lake and its surroundings.
Many Japanese consider Hakone Shrine a holy place. They’ve worshiped the hills around it for thousands of years as a place where souls of the dead travel onward to the next world. The shrine’s current incarnation is more than a hundred years old, and visitors can tour the buildings and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.