The Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands (Hakone Shissei-en in Japanese), established in 1976, is one of the most enjoyable natural attractions in Sengoku, Hakone - but is closed during the winter months.
The Gardens are home to almost 1,800 species of plants found in Japan's wetland and alpine habitats. They strike a balance between meticulous presentation, with careful labeling of plants (including English) and habitat-based partitioning of plant types, and unspoiltness, with a layout that is as close to walking through nature, as is, without getting your feet wet.
The visitor pays the admission at the entrance lodge, where he or she can view get an overview of the Garden layout and content, and view some exhibits - including a tiny darkhouse featuring mushrooms that glow green in the dark!
The rest of the Gardens consist of various gardens, and a series of large meandering boardwalks that takes the visitor comfortably and effortlessly through otherwise virtually inaccessible pristine marshy groves, overlooked by picturesque surrounding hills.
The Gardens' shop sells a selection of souvenirs, including seeds.
The Gardens are open daily from March 30 to November 30 every year. Hours: 9am-5pm daily. Admission: 700 yen for adults, 400 yen for school age. Free on weekends and public holidays for junior high school age and under.
Access to the Gardens is by the Hakone Tozan Bus route that starts at Hakone-Yumoto Station bound for Togendai. The bus stop is Sengoku Annaijomae, about 25 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto, and the well-signposted Gardens are about 8 minutes walk away.
Or, from Gora Station, the terminal station on the Hakone Tozan Railway, take a Hakone Tozan Bus to Hakone Shisseikaen-mae bus stop, about 20 minutes from Gora, right in front of the Gardens.
Guide to Hakone