Wandering and strolling around the hills and lakeside is pleasant, especially on a warm sunny day. Onshi Hakone Koen Park (恩賜箱根公園) used to be an Imperial villa. It was a place for the Emperor to rest and relax, and to entertain honored guests from various foreign countries. There were many luxurious buildings and other facilities to entertain noble people. But that gorgeous and elegant villa was destroyed not only once but twice; during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and during the Northern Izu Earthquake of 1930. And never again was it reconstructed. After WWII, the Imperial Household Agency bestowed the entire parcel of land to Kanagawa prefecture. Kanagawa then established a public park there.
Walkways of the park
This park is on a small peninsula jutting out into Ashino-ko Lake. When you get off the bus at the Onshi-koen mae bus stop, go straight and cross the parking area. You have four possible directions to go in at the entrance gate. The small path to the left meanders along the lakeside. It has many ups and downs but the view from the path is quite nice. The wide road on the left gently goes up the hill and is quite an easy walk. It passes the middle of the hill and connects with a few viewing points. But there’s not really much going on. The middle route goes though a woods and groves of trees and finally reaches the top of the hill. It is also an easy walk. The path to the right goes along the east side of the peninsula and takes you to the bottom of 200 stone steps. These steps connect with the top of the hill.
Small path to the left
You can enjoy a short hike by going this way. Walking along the west edge of the peninsula, you can see Ashino-ko Lake on the left, you will sometimes find deep blue water between the woods, and Mt. Fuji shows her head over the closer mountains. There are a few points where you can reach down and touch the cold water of the lake. You can stand on the shore and watch ships and boats very closely. When you climb up the hill, the woods changes from natural trees to well-trimmed trees. This area is a garden and the former location of the Imperial villa main house. Although the garden itself is amazing, the view from the garden of the lake will glue you to the spot for a while.
Observatory and Tearoom
The Imperial villa main house is a white building that sits on the top of the hill. The outside of the building was designed to replicate the former west palace of the villa. You can see some references and materials related to it in an exhibition area on the first floor. The second floor has a tearoom. Take a break and enjoy the wonderful view from the balcony, as if you had become an honored guest from your country.