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February 2019. Japan’s Lake Ashi is a stunning crater lake located in the heart of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park near Mount Fuji. It was formed over 3000 years ago by the eruption of another volcano, Mount Hakone, which is exactly where our tour guide Hiro was leading us that sunny February afternoon. The day had started off grey and misty but was really brightening up now as we began a twenty-minute cruise across Lake Ashi’s deep blue waters.
February 2019. Lake Ashi boat cruises are taken on large double hull ferries with massive observation decks providing 360-degree views around the lake. On a good day (and this is all-too rare apparently) you can get incredible views of Mount Fuji.
February 2019. I liked how for the most part Lake Ashi’s shores were surprisingly undeveloped. Decorated with thick woodland, there’s a famous shrine (Hakone Jinja) and smatterings of thatched roof holiday homes for those wanting an isolated retreat from the big smoke. Otherwise, it’s pretty unspoiled.
February 2019. Hiro told us that we were lucky to be doing our Lake Ashi cruising on a midweek day as the place gets rammed at the weekends. There was less than handful of boats on the water that day, although one of these was a gorgeous mediaeval vessel… quite simply a sight to behold. A one-way ticket on this baby from pier to pier goes for 750JPY (£5.20/€6/$6.70), 1400JPY for a return (£9.70/€11.10/$12.50).
Our Lake Ashi boat cruise finished up at the southwestern pier, which is the best access point for taking the Kamagate Ropeway up to Mount Hakone.
My visit to Lake Ashi (also known as Lake Ashionoko and Hakone Lake) was part of a day trip with Sunrise Tours booked through the online operator Viator at a cost of 109GBP/126EUR/$141 per person. For more on my experiences that day, take a look at my articles on Mount Fuji, Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park, Mount Hakone and the Shinkansen Bullet Train.
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