Lake Ashi, Kanto, Japan

Lake Locations:

Japan - Kanto -

Also known as:  Ashi-no-ko, Hakone Lake

One of Japan’s most popular holiday destinations is Lake Ashi. Ashi-no-ko, as it is also called, is a crater lake nestled along the southwest wall of the Mount Hakone caldera in the Kanto Region of Honshu. The lake was created by the last volcanic eruption about 3000 years ago when lava flows dammed the valley’s drainage routes. Fed primarily by underground springs, Lake Ashi has only a few short inflowing streams but forms the headwaters of the Hayakawa River. The depiction of Lake Ashi with Mt. Fuji overlooking the background is a well-known symbol of the Hakone region and is often duplicated in Japanese art. For many years, Lake Ashi was a favored honeymoon destination and still welcomes 13 million visitors each year. Completely surrounded by Hakone National Park, a wide variety of scenic and experiential adventures awaits visitors to the Hakone region.

Lake Ashi lies to the south of famous Mt. Fuji and is noted for the reflection of Fuji-san in the waters of the lake. This reflection is often difficult to see due to fog and low clouds. The lake welcomes tourists with a variety of boat cruises, ‘swan boat’ rentals, rentals of small fishing boats, and loosely organized fishing charters operated by local fishermen. Two competing tour operators maintain most of the cruise boats plying the lake; their competition has resulted in some interesting boat variations designed to encourage customers. The replica 17th century schooners, including a pirate ship, lend an amusement-park air to the cruise but are very popular for families with children. The cruises may stop at several of the small cities along the eastern lakeshore, where a number of tourism-geared attractions are located. Restaurants, hostels, spas and resorts all offer excellent views over the lake.

Fishing is a popular activity among visitors. Because fish is such a vital part of the Japanese diet, many restaurants loan customers fishing poles and tackle for the day. Upon returning the equipment, the kitchen cleans and cooks the catch. The deep, cold lake supports a variety of trout with rainbow trout the most sought-after species. Black bass – an imported species known as largemouth bass in its natural environment – is also a favored catch. Most local fishermen seem to focus on a native species of small fish called the pond smelt which are featured in many local dishes.

Lake Ashi offers a few public beaches, but small boats and canoes seem to be the favorite water sport. At least one resort offers year-round water slides with heated water from the thermal springs near the lake. The natural springs have been augmented with several drilled wells to access the heated water, and many hotels and resorts feature swimming pools utilizing the hot spring waters.

Although heavily developed in some areas and often overcrowded during popular holiday weeks, a few inns and guest houses still offer traditional lodgings, with sleeping rooms furnished with tatami mats, indoor grilling facilities, and meals served at low tables in the rooms. Others are strictly Western in their approach. A few campsites are provided around the lake, usually connected with the hotels to handle overflow. Many small guest houses are located around the lake, and the national park rents self-catering cabins which are very popular.

The western side of the lake can only be accessed on foot. This less-developed side offers great hiking trails under a canopy of leaves. Autumn is a favorite time to hike around the lake when shorter days turn the maples to brilliant reds. From nearly every point along the lakeshore, gondolas of the Hakone Ropeway can be seen gliding silently above. Nearly the entire shoreline can be reached by walking trail. The paths are also popular for mountain biking. The Skyline Trail is usually reserved for more athletically-inclined cyclists who thrill to the scenic views of Mt. Fuji and the lake far below.

Lake Ashi isn’t reserved just for nature lovers. Several museums and historical points are located near the shore. Traditional Hakone Shrine is hidden among tall trees at the foot of Mount Hakone, but its distinctive red torii gate stands in the lake. A boat landing below leads visitors up a series of steps flanked by paper lanterns through an emerald-green forest to the shrine itself. A second Hakone Shrine, Mototsumiya (“original shrine”) stands at the summit of Komagatake, one of Mount Hakone’s multiple peaks. It is accessible from the Komagatake Ropeway from Hakone-en or via hiking trails. The Narukawa Art Museum is located along the shoreline and offers continually-changing exhibits of paintings, sculpture and other works of art. Picturesque Fukara Watergate on the northwest shore controls water flow to a 4200-foot-long irrigation tunnel built in 1670 and still in use. The Japanese Gardens at Hakone-en are one of the loveliest places to view the lake and Mt. Fuji. The Hakone-en Resort also maintains a major aquarium featuring over 2000 freshwater species and 20,000 saltwater fish.

Lake Ashi is ideally situated as a holiday destination. The eastern shoreline is the destination point for the bus lines and trains arriving from Tokyo and Yokohama and serves as the entry to the Hakone Ropeway system of gondolas, hiking trails and mountain biking pathways. Beautiful views of Lake Ashi’s blue waters can be seen from these high vantage points. The area is well-known for its sulfur springs and medicinal baths. One location along the Ropeway sells ‘longevity’ eggs boiled to a deep black shell in the hot sulfur waters. It is traditional to partake of a few of these edible eggs to gain the seven extra years of life they promise.

Others come to enjoy some of the most spectacular resort spas along the Lake Ashi shoreline. Japan’s bullet trains can reach Lake Ashi in two hours from either Tokyo or Yokohama. Nature, luxury and tradition all complement each other at Lake Ashi and provide the ideal getaway to city dwellers looking for scenic vistas. Come and enjoy Lake Ashi’s many attractions. And, bring the salt shaker for that egg!

Things to do at Lake Ashi

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • National Park
  • Museum
  • Amusement Park

Fish species found at Lake Ashi

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smelt
  • Trout

Lake Ashi Photo Gallery

  • Honeymoon Pictures

Lake Ashi Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 1,730 acres

Shoreline Length: 11 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,372 feet

Maximum Depth: 143 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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