A popular outing that many foreign tourists visit Japan will take is going over to Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture. Be warned, though – it’s a tourist trap! That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t go; you should. Just make sure you go in the right state of mind… bring a sense of humour with you!
Like many parts of Japan, Hakone is a volcanic area and is home to many Onsen (hot spring) resorts where you can bathe in hot springs and attract sharp glances and lingering stares from the local Japanese at your Western tush. That’s how it feels at times, anyway! Be sure that you don’t have too many tattoos, they are frowned upon in Japanese culture – only the Yakusa mafia bosses have tattoos in Japan!
Aside from the hot springs, Hakone has a number of tourist
traps attractions, situated in and around its long-dormant volcanic caldera. First you can visit the sulphurous (stinky egg smelling) pools and eat eggs boiled in the volcanic spring water. They’re meant to be good for you, apparently! You can take the cable car down to the caldera, giving you a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Finally, you can take a pirate ship – I’m not making this up, nor am I on drugs, honest! – across the lake, complete with fake pirate statues, rigging and the like. (It doesn’t have sails though – they cheat and run it by a motor like a modern-day ship).
So if your Japanese students, Japanese girlfriend, tour operator, friends, or fellow backpackers suggest you should go to Hakone – GO! Just be prepared to laugh your socks off at the tourist conveyor belt you’ll be subjected to!