You are probably visiting Japan with plans to stay in Tokyo, but Japan has much more to offer. Plan a day trip out of the city to ride a pirate ship on a beautiful lake, with a chance to see Mt. Fuji. Hakone is a town in Japan home to Lake Ashinoko (also known as Lake Ashi). This is where you will find these famous pirate ships. Hakone has about three pirate ship replicas on their lake: one red, one green, and one blue. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at one of the three ports, and they cost about $10 USD one way.
There are three ports that the pirate ships dock from: Moto-Hakone Port, Hakone-machi Port, and Togendai Port. You will be arriving from either side of the lake, so getting a one way ticket is best to continue your travels on the other side. You have the option to choose a first or second class ticket, with a price difference. First class tickets seemed to offer nicer seating inside. I boarded second class, and while the seats and views from inside were still nice, you may be spending most of your time outside on the deck. As you board, you will have some time to explore the ship before it starts to sail. Make your way to the top deck for amazing views. The journey across Lake Ashi took about 30 minutes one way.
You will be departing or boarding from Togendai station. Leave some time to explore this area. Togendai station has a restaurant inside, and even a terminal for the Hakone Ropeway. We had lunch before boarding and got pleasant views of the pirate ships from the station restaurant. If you have extra time make sure you ride on the ropeway. The day of our visit, the mountain was very active. Half of the ropeway was closed, but we were still able to ride up halfway and come back. You get great views of the lake, forest, and if your lucky, steam coming up out of the active volcanic mountains. If you want to spend more time on the lake, swan paddle boats are available for rent.
Hakone is also known for its views of Mt. Fuji. Be aware that Mt. Fuji is a very shy mountain, so you may or may not get the chance to admire it. If you really want to see Mt. Fuji, plan your tip around the weather. Consider visiting Hakone on a sunny day to broaden your chances of seeing Japan’s tallest mountain. Unfortunately, we could not see the peak of Mt. Fuji at the time of our visit. It seems to always be covered by the clouds, but we did get a glimpse of it as we traveled back to the city. Even if you miss Mt. Fuji, Hakone is still a great town to visit in Japan. As mentioned, it only takes a day to leave the city and explore a little of Japan’s outdoor attractions. Hakone offers ropeways up to volcanic mountains, views of Mt. Fuji and surrounding forests, and a pirate ship ride across Lake Ashi. Be sure not to miss this place to experience Japan’s overall natural beauty.
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