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Sunday Drives: Kyoko Yamashita

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Length Type A classic Japanese ‘touge’ mountain pass, with smooth and sweeping bends surrounded by lush vegetation, topped off with unspoilt views of Mount Fuji. As she prepared to return and set up home on the other side of the world in Los Angeles, Japanese teenager Kyoko Yamashita asked for just two things from her father: braces and a driver’s licence.

Around 100 km south west of Tokyo, the fastidiously maintained Hakone Turnpike climbs to over 1,000 m on an elevated road punctuated at regular intervals by rest areas and an observation deck at the summit complete with a cafeteria selling snacks and coffees for the onward journey.

The Hakone Turnpike is not a typical alpine pass

“It’s not a super-twisty or high-speed road,” Yamashita says, but it is very smooth and full of long, sweeping curves. It’s perhaps not as demanding as your typical alpine pass; I’d say it’s a little more relaxing while still being challenging enough. There are several blind corners and parts of the pass are high bridge sections, so you get a real sense of height as you climb the mountain.

Yamashita suggests trying to make the trip on either side of the summer months, however.

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Mar 21, 2021 at 12:42

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