A Secret Garden of Azaleas, Hidden Away in Hakone
When it comes to the Hakone area, most travelers think of onsen, but luxurious hot springs aren’t the only thing that might bring you to the area. Hakone is actually a go-to spot for flower lovers, with impressive blooms of hydrangeas that burst into color early each summer, and a sightseeing train that takes travelers through the forest and past the colorful bushes of flowers.
Two days ago, however, I took a trip to Hakone and found another reason to love the area after staying the night in the Odakyu Hotel de Yama. Dazzlingly colorful in front of a backdrop that features Mount Fuji itself, the hotel’s azalea garden is like a secret garden tucked between the hotel buildings and the cool lake waters.
The Hakone Odakyu Hotel de Yama is a villa built back in the 44th year of Meiji (1911), by the fourth-generation president of Mitsubishi, Koyata Iwasaki. And while the villa’s garden is known for azaleas, it’s somewhat different from Tokyo’s Nezu Shrine, another go-to spot for the flower. This Hakone garden has more than 3,000 azalea bushes and 70 different species of the flower, complemented by another 300 varieties of rhododendron. Some of the species planted here are old varieties that have become rare over the years, and these uncommon azaleas often draw rare plant lovers and photographers. Of course, another reason that photographers flock to the garden is the backdrop, with the iconic Mount Fuji rising up out of the mist behind the colorful flowers.
Unfortunately, during this particular visit, the heavens were not very cooperative, and the cloudy weather hid the mountain away in the distance. The flowers are beautiful on their own, too, but since I missed the chance to take my own photo of the flowers with Mount Fuji in the background, here is a screenshot from the official website for reference!
Due to the high altitude, Hakone’s azalea season is a little bit later than Tokyo: this year, it lasted from the end of April to mid-May, with the flowers at their absolute best during early May. Since I visited on May 11th, it was just past the peak of the azalea bloom, but it was still beautiful!
During azalea season, the garden charges a 1,000 yen admission fee and is open to all visitors from 9 am to 5 pm, but guests at the hotel are allowed to enter for freeーpast sunset as well. They light up the garden at night, so a romantic evening visit before staying the night is another great option!
Staying on the fourth floor, the view from the hotel window included a huge swath of the colorful azalea garden, and even Mount Fuji in the distance. The hotel also has both indoor and outdoor onsen baths, for guests who want to take a dip in Hakone’s famous hot springs. For a little trip in the late spring and early summer, I’d recommend it!
Odakyu Yama de Hotel (箱根小田急山のホテル)
80 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa
Official Website (jp)
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