“Hakone is Tokyo’s favourite escape. It’s a Japanese ideal: a land of onsen (natural hot springs) and jagged, misty mountains. At the centre is calm, cool Lake Ashi, a natural reflecting pool for Mt Fuji, which rises in the distance. If it reminds you of a scene from a wood-block print, it’s because it has been, many times over.
“Hakone is also a Japanese reality. It’s overdeveloped and can be painfully crowded. Convenience rules: cable cars snake up hillsides, tour buses career down narrow mountain roads, kitschy ‘pirate ships’ ferry tourists across the lake.
“But like most things in Japan, the beauty is in the details. You just have to know where to look.”
Published in the Guardian