Awarded Unesco World Heritage Status last year, Japan's Mt Fuji has inspired the work of painters and poets, as well as religious rituals and pilgrimages, for more than 900 years. In Tokyo, a local woman told me many Japanese people hope to climb the 3,776-metre peak once in their lifetime - but only once. "To climb Mt Fuji once makes you wise," the saying goes, she told me. "To climb it twice makes you a fool." Kai Hakone is well located for Mt Fuji. The hotel is just 10 minutes by taxi from Odakyu Hakone Yumoto station (about 90 minutes from central Tokyo by train) and the tourist train to Mt Fuji leaves from the same station in the town. It's a boutique hotel in the style of the traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), but it mixes a traditional feel with modern art. Rooms are quite minimalist in style, with classic Japanese tatami mats on the floor, sliding paper doors and walls and soft comfy futons. Mine has a big glass window/door that slides open onto a balcony with a view of crisp green forest and the Sugumo River. The sound of the rushing river is never far away during my time here. Guests are provided with traditional yukata (cotton kimono) and wooden slippers to wear. The rooms have big televisions and iPads loaded with information about the hotel and surrounding area. I make my way over to the main building along pathways lined with tall, green bamboo trees. About half of the hotel staff speak perfect English. All are friendly and willing to help, not just around the hotel but with maps, information or planning your time in the area. I head into town and catch a train and then the cable car to get a view of Mt Fuji. All the new attention must have made it shy; the peak's obscured by thick grey cloud. But that feels like a good reason to come back this way again and, for now, to spend more time at back at the hotel. The area around Hakone is famous for traditional hot springs. Kai Hakone has a modern take on that tradition. Much of the ryokan's ground floor is taken up by big, sleek, steaming hot baths. They're divided into male and female (bathers often use the pools without clothing) and, as I discover, it's worth learning the Japanese characters for "male" and "female" before you make your way downstairs. In the evening, I eat in the traditional Japanese restaurant, which is divided into sections. I sit in a private room, with sliding paper doors. It serves a kaiseki (multicourse) menu. I count nine dishes of delicious Japanese fare, including tempura and sashimi and seafood. There are several things here I've never tried before, including some seaweeds, jellies and vegetables, right through to a tasty, rich, Hoji tea-flavoured crème brûlée. Breakfast next morning is Japanese style, with a tray divided into neat sections, each including fish, egg or vegetables. As I leave, I think about returning to see Mt Fuji without the rainclouds, so maybe it won't be long before I'm back. Staying here once makes you wise. But staying here more than once wouldn't be foolish at all. email@example.com Kai Hakone 230 Yumoto Chaya Hakone machi Ashigarashimo Gun Kanagawa prefecture, 250-0312 global.hoshinoresort.com ★★★★☆ Getting there Air China ( airchina.hk ) has return flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo from HK$3,361. Trains to Hakone leave from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. Staying there Rooms cost from 33,000 yen (HK$2,500) per night, including breakfast, dinner, 5 per cent tax and 10 per cent service charge.