Home Japan Travel GuideVisiting Hakone

Visiting Hakone

Hakone is a fantastic tourist attraction with panoramic views of mountain scenery, including Mt Fuji, the beautiful Lake Ashi, a fantastic ropeway and cable car, and historic remains such as the old Hakone Check Point. If you are an art lover, explore the famous Hakone Open Air Museum.

The area is only a 75-minute trip from Tokyo, and you can experience ryokans (traditional Japanese inns), spas, and most importantly onsen (natural hot springs) there. We recommend you stay at least one night to experience fully the beauty of the place.

Highlights

  • Enjoy the beautiful scenery from various perspectives, such as from a ropeway or a ship. You can also explore the wonders of volcanic activity.
  • Hakone is famous for hot spring baths and ryokans.
  • If you are an art lover, make your way to the Hakone Open Air Museum and you will have an opportunity to see some of Picasso’s art.
  • Visit Owakudani crater to see Mt. Fuji from a distance and try the famous crater eggs sold by locals.
  • Get the Hakone Free Pass and skip the hassle of buying tickets for transport around Hakone.

Travel to Hakone

Hakone is around 100 kilometers from Tokyo. The area is a popular weekend destination for Tokyo residents looking to relax in the countryside. It is also exceedingly popular with international tourists.

Hakone offers convenient transport, beautiful scenery, a host of attractions and, best of all, natural hot-spring baths, or onsen, around virtually every bend of the roads that twist through the mountains.

The town has a large variety of activities to keep every kind of traveler entertained; so make sure to explore it and make the most of it.

Top attractions in Hakone

Hakone has a lot to offer on a day- or weekend-trip from Tokyo. The hot springs and views of Mount Fuji on sunny days are Hakone’s most famous attractions. Otherwise, it offers activities ranging from art museums and pirate ships, to shrines with impressively long history.

Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi is a volcanic crater lake known for its scenic views of Mount Fuji and the great torii of Hakone Shrine. Two companies offer boat tours of the lake. Several tour boats are designed to look like Edo-era (1603–1867) warships.

The lake can alternatively be viewed from spots such as Onshi Hakone Park or Moto Hakone on the shore.

Ancient Cedar Avenue

Cedar Avenue, a 500-meter-long forest path, is one of the famous attractions here. Thick, tall cedars grow on either side of the path. The trees are up to 30 meters tall, and some have a girth of over four meters. At the end of the path, you can admire the beautiful landscape of Lake Ashi.

If you are lucky, you will be able to see Mt. Fuji as well!

Owakudani

Owakudani is the crater that was created by the last major eruption of Mount Hakone. It is known for its healthy eggs, that add 7 years to your life. Gift shops around the area sell the popular boiled Owakudani.

This area also has some amazing views of Mt. Fuji and is probably the best spot for a group photo with the mountain in the background.

Gora Park

Walk through this park with its impressive rose garden and make sure you visit the garden’s several greenhouses. Protected from extreme weather, the greenhouses are home to an impressive collection of bougainvillea and also a tropical rainforest complete with palm trees, birds-of-paradise flowers, and even pineapple plants.

The Hakone Open Air Museum

The Hakone Open Air Museum is surprisingly good for a small art museum in a touristy town. Indoors you'll find a fantastic little Picasso collection. Outdoors is a series of sculptures well-appointed on pleasant grounds.

Lalique museum Hakone

René Lalique (1860-1945) was a French artist from the “Art Nouveau” and “Art Deco” era, known primarily as a craftsman of glass objects and a master of jewelry. This museum has a collection of over 1,500 items of his lifetime works, and rotates the displays twice a year.

Hakone Venetian glass museum

This museum features Italian-style buildings, including the museum itself and some shops. Outside is a large garden surrounding a canal-like pond, nice for strolling around.

The museum houses a collection of over 100 pieces of Venetian glassware. It displays both modern and classical work in different forms, including vases, goblets, lamps and sculptures.

Japanese onsen and ryokan experience

The Hakone region offers hundreds of onsen baths at hotels, at ryokans, and otherwise in public. Onsen are one of the reasons why Japanese people come to Hakone. Staying in a ryokan (a tradition originating in the eighth century AD) is also a highlight of visiting Hakone.

Most ryokans have their own onsen, whether open to the public or reserved for private-in-room use, so you can have a soak whenever you want. Staying in a ryokan and visiting an onsen should be on your list of things to do when traveling to Hakone.

Choosing exactly where to stay in Hakone can sometimes be difficult and frustrating. Here below are some of Asia Highlights’ handpicked hotels. We have chosen them based on their quality, service, and facilities, and on reviews by customers.

Hakone Kowakien Tenyu

Opened in April 2017, Hakone Kowakien Tenyu offers Japanese-style rooms with tatami (woven straw) floors, as well as an open-air hot tub, or open-air hot tub made of Shigaraki pottery. All rooms have air conditioning, flat-screen TV, minibar, fridge, electric kettle and private bathroom.

The 24-hour front desk provides free luggage storage. You can enjoy a shared lounge, shops, a garden and a terrace on-site. There is also a swimming pool, spa lounge and sauna available for you to use.

If you are coming from Hakone-Yumoto Station, it will only take 20 minutes either by car or bus (bound for Kowakien bus stop).

Gora Tensui

Gora Tensui offers hot spring baths with mountain views, traditional multi-menu dinners, and cafes with hot water baths for feet. Japanese-style rooms include futon beds on tatami floors, or typical western beds.

If you are coming from Hakone-Yumoto station, take the Hakonetozan-line train bound for Gora station. The trip will last around 40 minutes.

Merveille Hakone Gora

Merveille Hakone Gora is in the Gora hot springs area. It offers spacious western-style rooms with a terrace. You can take advantage of various relaxation facilities such as a public hot spring, hot tub and sauna room. A free shuttle service is available from Gora Train Station, which can also be reached via a 5-minute walk.

If you are coming from Hakone-Yumoto station, take the Hakonetozan-line train bound for Gora Station. The trip will last around 40 minutes.

How to get to Hakone

There are seven train stations in the town of Hakone itself, but they are all on the Hakone Tozan line mountain train. The main gateway to the area is the line’s Hakone-Yumoto Station, situated on the eastern edge of Hakone.

JR East trains can quickly get you to Odawara Station, where you can hop on the Hakone Tozan line mountain train. Tokaido shinkansen bullet trains leaving from Tokyo Station travel to Odawara in 35 minutes. Note that only Hikari and Kodama Shinkansen services stop at Odawara.

From Shinjuku Station in Tokyo

By far the most comfortable and convenient way of getting from Tokyo to Hakone is to take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku Station (in central Tokyo). You can either take an express train, which requires a transfer at Odawara, or pay a bit extra for a direct ride on the fancy-pants Romance Car (a luxury express).

From Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya

If you are coming from Kyoto, take the JR Tokaido shinkansen from Kyoto to Mishima Station (served by Kodama trains and one direct Hikari train every 2 hours), Atami Station (served by Kodama trains and one direct Hikari train every 2-3 hours) or Odawara Station (served by Kodama trains and one direct Hikari train every 2-5 hours).

If you are coming from Osaka, take the Hikari shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station running directly to Odawara Station in 2 hours and 19 minutes. At Odawara Station you can then change to the Hakone Tozan line which will take you to Hakone-Yumoto Station in around 15 minutes. Altogether the journey time is around 3 hours.

From Nagoya, take the JR Tokaido shinkansen from Nagoya to Odawara. At Odawara switch to the Hakone Tozan line to head on to Hakone-Yumoto Station.

Use a Hakone Free Pass to explore the area independently

Coming to Hakone without a guide can be confusing, especially when it comes to transport. Fortunately, however, a transportation-company in Hakone sells Hakone Free Passes which will get you around easily. Keep reading for more information.

What is the Hakone Free Pass?

The Hakone Free pass is a discount excursion ticket between Shinkuju and Hakone-Yumoto, offering full coverage of the popular sightseeing destinations in Hakone. The pass allows you to get on and off Hakone transport for free, as well as providing discount admission to various attractions in the area.

It covers 8 forms of transport including trains, buses, cable cars, cableway and boat, sufficient to get you around all the major sights of the region.

How to get your Pass

Book your Hakone Free Pass on the official Pass website, and they will send you a voucher. Once in Tokyo, go to the Odakyu Shinjuku counter to trade your voucher for a Hakone Free Pass.

If you are already in Japan, tickets can be purchased from ticket machines or counters at Shinjuku station or arrival stations such as Odawara, the shinkansen station in the Hakone area.

Prices and validity

Inside the Hakone area: 4,000 yen for a 2-day pass, 4,500yen for a 3-day pass. From Shinjuku in Tokyo: 5,140 yen for a 2-day pass, 5,640 yen for a 3-day pass. Reduced rates around 75% apply for children from 6 to 11 years of age. Travel is free for children 5 years and under.

The Romance Car trains are not included in the Pass. They require an additional 890 yen one way from Shinjuku to Odawara, or to Hakone Yumoto.

More perks from buying the Pass

The Hakone Free Pass not only offers free transport, but also special offers and discounts at more than 50 Hakone tourist sites: onsen and spas, Museum of Art Pola and the Okada Art Museum, historical places (Hakone Sekisho Shiryokan check point and Hakone Jinja shrine), botanical gardens, parks (such as Hakone Gora Park), leisure parks, sports centers, and many restaurants and shops.

You can find the complete list on the official website (under the discount tab).

How to use the Pass

When you have obtained your pass, simply bring it and show it to the gate-attendee whenever you want to use any kind of transport or get into a sightseeing area. It works the same if you want to buy things or services from the affiliated-stores.

Recommended tour itinerary

Visiting Hakone is a must if you are coming to Japan. It is a very popular day-trip destination from Tokyo. In case you have no idea where to start, we offer a recommended itinerary below.

Start your trip to Hakone from Tokyo. Take the Odakyu line express + Hakone Tozan line to get you to Hakone-Yumoto station, the major stop-off point for Hakone.

Alternatively, for an additional charge, you can use the direct Romance Car service. This service will take you to Hakone-Yumoto station from Shinjuku in around 75 minutes, whereas the Odakyu Line plus the Hakone Tozan line will take you in around 115 mins.

After you have arrived, take the Hakone Tozan Bus to Motohakone-ko and you can take a short walk to reach the Ancient Cedar Avenue. Walk right through to the Hakone Sekisho Exhibition. After you have finished taking pictures, head for the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi, at Hakonemachi-ko.

Embark on the cruise and have an opportunity to see Mt. Fuji from a distance. Disembark at Togendai-ko and make your way to the famous Hakone Ropeway, taking you to Sounzan, where you can board the Hakone Tozan Cable car to Gora.

Upon arriving at Gora Station, board the Hakone Tozan Rail bound for Hakone-Yumoto Station. From there you can travel back to Shinjuku, or make your way directly to your hotel.

Guided Hakone Highlights tour

When exploring Hakone for the first time, a guided tour would be a good idea. Not only will you skip the hassle of buying a Hakone Free Pass and lunch, or organizing your itinerary, but you will also be able to explore more places during your holiday.

One-day Hakone Mount Fuji National Park Highlights tour

Hakone is a popular destination for day-trips from Tokyo. The beauty of nature – steep forested mountain slopes, gorges, a history of volcanic activity and a crater lake, all feature on the day-tour.

We explore Hakone using various means of transport such as: the world’s second longest cable car up Mt Owakudani, the Hakone Tozan train for views of beautiful valleys and mountain-scenery, and a majestic pirate ship on Lake Ashinoko.

Don’t forget to have your camera ready, for you will have a chance to capture the beautiful Mt. Fuji from some sightseeing spots.

Half-Day Hakone Arts and Crafts tour

Hakone is also famous for its arts and crafts. Visit one of the well-known museums in Hakone, the Okada Museum of Art. It has an impressive exhibition space of around 5,000 square meters and extensive gardens covering some 15,000 square meters, enhanced by spring streams and trees.

Inside the museum, you can see works of art ranging from ancient times through the present age, but this museum mainly exhibits Japanese, Chinese and Korean art.

After exploring Okada Museum, head for Gora Park where you can see two greenhouses, housing tropical plants and flowers. This park is a relaxing place to unwind and enjoy the scenery and views of Hakone.

Next, stop off at a craft house. There you can take part in activities such as making an ornament with dried flowers, making glass beads, or sand-blasting glass. You can take your own work home.

Explore Hakone with Asia Highlights

Asia Highlights is an experienced travel agent that can help you make the most of your holiday in Hakone. We will provide you with an experienced guide and a private car and driver, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit to Hakone.

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