Ōwakudani is a popular tourist spot that attests to the past volcanic activity of Hakone. Actually a crater on Mt. Kamiyama formed by the last volcanic eruption of Hakone around 3,000 years ago, Ōwakudani still actively emits a white “smoke” of sulfuric volcanic fumes. The desolate sight traces back to the time when the place was called “Grand Inferno,” which was later renamed when the Meiji Emperor and Empress visited Hakone in 1873 because people hesitated to invite the Emperor and Empress to a place with such a name. It almost seems a shame to have lost such an evocative name. Now, a tourist center has been established with souvenir stores and a restaurant/café. “Kuro-tamago” (black eggs) have gained popularity as a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs.
This private museum, operated by the Pola Art Foundation, houses around 9,500 works of art featuring impressionist masterpieces, including those by Monet and Renoir, as well as Japanese traditional and oil paintings, glass crafts and make-up tools collected by Tsuneshi Suzuki, the former owner of Pola Orbis Group. The museum consists of 5 exhibition rooms: Western arts and modern Japanese arts from the 19th century and later are displayed in 3 rooms, ceramics from China and the Korean peninsula in a fourth room, and the collection of make-up tools in the final room. The highlights of the collection are modern oil paintings by Western artists celebrated in Japan including “Water Lily Pond” by Monet, “Girl in a Lace Hat” by Renoir, “Mother and Child by the Sea” by Picasso, “Vase with Flower and Thistles” by Van Gogh, and “Portrait of Lunia Czechowska” by Modigliani, to name a few.
The Ashinoko Lake Leisure Cruise opened as the first catamaran cruise ship in Japan in 1920, and currently operates a liner service between the 4 ports of Hakone Sekisho-ato, Moto-Hakone, Hakone-en, and the terminal Kojiri. A circular route starting from one of the 4 ports and coming back to the same port through the other 3 ports is also available. As a catamaran features two parallel hulls of equal size, the spacious ship enjoys great stability and offers a 360-degree view from the viewing deck. Passengers can also look into the cockpit through a window in the cabin on the first floor to experience the feeling of being the ship’s captain. Another company also offers Hakone sightseeing cruises on Ashinoko Lake, on a model pirate ship, and discount sightseeing combination tickets for the ropeway and sightseeing cruise are available for both leisure cruise services. Please see the official websites for both companies to learn more about special offers and details for your trip to Hakone!