If ‘nostalgic’, ‘classic’, and ‘classy’ are higher on your list than pure comfort, then the Fujiya Hotel in Hakone is going to please you immensely. This hotel, originally constructed in 1878, is generally recognized as one of the few remaining classic-style Western hotels in Japan. It is dripping with atmosphere. In that time and age here, visitors and culture was pouring in from the West. Men (even Japanese men) wore long fancy mustaches, the ladies wore long dresses and high hats, and glitzy ballroom dances were thrown all the time. It was into this world that the Fujiya Hotel was born, and it still retains some of that old-world charm: Although everything in it is now old, the building’s beautiful wood walls, ceilings and banisters are dark, restaurants and bars are dark…and so it is a very bright and enjoyable place to stay. Add to that the fact that you are staying in Hakone, one of the most famous onsen (hot spring bath) resort regions in all Japan, and you have a winning combination.
More about the hotel
As the popularity of Hakone grew, so did the Fujiya—adding new buildings, wings and other facilities step by step over the years. There are almost 150 guest rooms, each with its own name and flower motif. So you might find yourself staying in the ‘Rose Room’, the ‘Sakura Room’, or the ‘Lotus Room’. The rooms themselves are high ceilinged, spacious and western—no tatami mat flooring here—but sometimes feel a bit threadbare and worn. After all, it is a very old building! You can also expect your room to include interesting combinations of soft armchairs, antique writing desks, and other types of antique furniture.
The service here is always superb and everyone speaks English. Menus are in English, and even elegant kimono-clad waitresses speak English.
You will also enjoy wandering around inside the hotel. Here and there, hanging on the walls in the long corridors, you will find delightful Japan-themed paintings, as well as old photos of the Fujiya Hotel of yesteryear: Charlie Chaplin playing tennis, Helen Keller in a kimono, Prime Minister Nehru coming into the lobby, the Emperor and Empress getting ready to leave, John Lennon and Yoko One posing. The swimming pool is also a nice touch. Heated, the water in it comes from the local hot springs!
Go out and walk around the neighborhood. There are four or five little antiques shops full to the brim of charming knick-knacks and souvenirs, authentic ukiyo-e paintings, and so on.
Jump on the tram train just up the hill and explore the area. Depending on the weather and time of year, Mt. Fuji should be easy to see and GIGANTIC. In the winter, covered with snow, you would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful mountain anywhere in the world!