Sail around Lake Ashinoko and explore the iconic Hakone Shrine
Hop on a ropeway to check out the steamy vents of Owakudani
Peruse priceless artworks against beautiful natural backdrops
Soak in a variety of mineral-rich hot spring baths
Hakone is a hot spring resort nestled among the mountains of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Its ease of access makes it a popular weekend getaway for Tokyoites. With forests, hiking trails, volcanic remains, hot springs, museums and an enormous lake, the resort is packed with all kinds of opportunities for fun and relaxation.
Start your trip by taking a bus from Hakone-Yumoto to Lake Ashinoko. After a refreshing cruise on a caldera lake, take a ropeway to Owakudani where you can spot vents spewing steam and take in stunning views of Mount Fuji.
Grab a bite to eat at a chic cafe before you spend the rest of your day encountering art at Hakone’s museums and outdoor art galleries or shopping at the nearby outlet mall. Top off your day with a relaxing hot spring bath.
|Required time||Game + 1 day|
|Distance traveled||App.100 km|
|Transportation||Train, bus, ropeway, cable car|
Enjoy the Tokyo 2020 games!
The perfect getaway: Lakeside strolls, fine art, and hot springs galore
You can access Hakone from Shinjuku Station via the Odakyu Line, or via the JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo, Shinagawa, or Yokohama Station. In either case, you’ll have to transfer to the Hakone Tozan Line at Odawara Station.
The Odakyu Limited Express Romancecar is a convenient option. It takes you straight from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station in just 90 minutes without having to transfer. Observation decks with gigantic windows give you great views of the surroundings, and you’ll find snacks and drinks available onboard. Look out for views of Mount Fuji once you’ve passed all the buildings and skyscrapers. If you prefer a more affordable option, you can go for the regular Odakyu trains—a one way ticket is about 1,220 yen and the ride lasts about two hours.
If you are planning to use the Odakyu Line and go sightseeing around the Hakone area, pick up the Hakone Freepass. This discount pass includes a round trip from Shinjuku and is valid for unlimited rides on the Hakone Tozan Train, cable car, bus, cruise ship, and ropeway. Holders of the pass can also receive discounted entry to 70 different facilities, including various hot springs and museums in the area. Two and three-day passes are available, available for purchase at train stations and the convenience stores. Note that the express fare for the Romancecar is not included in this pass—you’ll need to pay an additional fee.
Most areas around Hakone can be accessed via bus from Hakone-Yumoto Station. Before you hop on the bus, take a stroll around the lively shop-lined streets near the station.
To fit right into Hakone’s historical streets, don a summery yukata. You’ll find rental shops that offer airy, cotton yukatas in a variety of hues and patterns. You can pick up obi belts and accessories of your choice, and even have your hair and makeup done. While operating hours vary by shop, most places are open between 9:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Be sure to return your rental wear on time!
After a stroll around the Hakone-Yumoto Station, make your way to Lake Ashinoko.
This caldera lake is situated at an altitude of 723m within the Hakone caldera. It’s about 30 minutes from the station on the Hakone Tozan Bus.
Hakone Shrine, located on the shores of Lake Ashinoko, is popular with visitors. The vermillion shrine gate towers over the lake, and is the perfect place to snap a photo. Walk the stone-paved approach under the shade of towering cryptomeria trees , some over 600 years old. Pick up a goshuin-cho book stamped with the temple seal as a memento.
To access the shrine, get off at the Hakone-jinja-iriguchi bus stop.
The Moto-Hakone Port, located in the south shoreline of Lake Ashinoko, is a 10-minute walk from Hakone Shrine.
The lake’s verdant shorelines beautifully frame Mount Fuji on clear days, and Hakone Shrine’s crimson torii gates add an exquisite accent to the view.
The lake is surrounded by shrines, waterfalls, cedar trees, hot springs, museums, a botanical garden, and aquarium, and boats offer a great way to move between these places. You’ll find two types of boats in the area—the Izuhakone Sightseeing Boat and the Pirate Ship, each with its own timetable and route.
The Pirate Ship, as the name suggests, is designed like a European pirate ship. You’ll even find the staff onboard dressed up like pirates. Traveling to Togendai Port in the north shore takes about 30 minutes and costs around 1,050 yen one way. You can ride it for free if you have the Hakone Freepass. The boat also stops at Hakone-machi, an area which still retains the air of the Edo Period, and is great for a stroll.
The Izuhakone Sightseeing Boat makes 4 stops in total. You can choose from a 30, 40, or 70-minute course.
Hakone-en Port, near the midpoint of the lake, offers access to the aquarium, botanical garden, and the Hakone Ropeway where you can enjoy panoramic views of the area. It costs 1,020 yen one way to travel from Moto-Hakone Port to Kojiri Port at the northernmost tip.
If you prefer to be the captain of the ship, hop on a swan-shaped pedal boat and sail the lake at your own pace.
After sailing around Lake Ashinoko’s tranquil waters, head to the Hakone Ropeway for some fantastic views.
Get off at Togendai or Kojiri Port to access the ropeway. The ropeway is free for Hakone freepass holders. It can fit 18 people at a time, runs at one-minute intervals, stopping at four stations. The travel time between each station is about eight minutes.
Although the ropeway offers great views of the surroundings, the volcanic Owakudani area serves as the main attraction.
The site of a volcanic eruption, the desolate landscape is dotted with steam vents and filled with the smell of sulfur.
Don’t forget to try Owakudani’s renowned hot spring-boiled black eggs.
If you have time, drop by the Hakone Geo Museum, where you can learn all about Hakone’s geothermal wonders.
Take the ropeway to Sounzan, the last stop. Here you can change to the cable car which will take you to Gora, a forested area with hot spring resorts and villas. The path from Gora to the Sengokuhara highlands is dotted with museums and galleries, such as the Venetian Glass Museum, the Little Prince Museum, the Narukawa Museum, and Lalique Museum. Many of them include outdoor exhibits and pristine gardens, allowing you to appreciate art against stunning natural backdrops.
Recommended art spaces in Hakone
This lush open-air museum covers an area of about 70,000 square meters, boasting over 100 contemporary art sculptures. It’s best to visit on a sunny day, to fully appreciate the surrounding views.
The museum also has an entire building dedicated to Pablo Picasso, housing 300 of his works. You will also find restaurants, shops, and even a foot bath in the premises.
You can access the museum from the Chokoku-no-Mori Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway, or the Ninotaira Iriguchi bus stop on the Hakone Tozan Bus.
The Okada Museum opened in 2013 on the site of a hotel from the late 19th century. It covers five floors and 5,000 square meters of land, featuring about 450 iconic pieces of Oriental art. The museum’s impressive collection includes ceramics, paintings, lacquerware, metalwork, and Buddhist art from Japan, China, and Korea. In the premises, you will also find a foot bath cafe, restaurant, and pristine garden.
It’s set at a convenient location, near the midpoint of Lake Ashinoko, and accessible via the Kowakien bus stop.
Natural light fills the interior of the Pola Museum. The walls are adorned with masterpieces by the likes of Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Fujita, as well as renowned Japanese painters such as Yasushi Sugiyama and Kaii Higashiyama. Look out for the sculptures as you take a walk outside under the shade of beech and orangebark stewartia trees.
After a day of sightseeing, luxuriate in a mineral-rich hot spring bath. Hakone has four main types of hot springs.
Gora, Owakudani, and Ninotaira are all located in the site of a former volcanic eruption. For this reason, the waters here are chloride springs, typical to volcanic regions.
The hot spring waters in the surrounding areas tend to be rich in sodium bicarbonate and sulfate ions. Areas at lower altitudes such as Miyanoshita and Hakone-Yumoto are mixed types, with a combination of minerals.
Hot springs can be beneficial in a variety of ways—depending on the quality of the water, they can get rid of dead cells, improve your skin condition and circulation. Their antibacterial properties can provide relief for people with dermatitis. Hot spring facilities usually list the properties and efficacies of their waters.
If you’re visiting Hakone on a day trip, there are plenty of facilities that allow day visitors.
Most hot springs require you to be fully unclothed. If you would rather bathe in swimwear, head to Yunessun. Unlike most places, mixed bathing is allowed here, so you can kick back with your entire group. Their indoor hot spring area has a “fish doctor” foot bath, as well as wine and coffee baths. The gigantic outdoor area is equipped with water slides and jungle gyms.
If you prefer to spend some alone time with your partner, rent a private open-air hot spring.
Hakone Yuryo has 19 private hot springs with fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.
Wooden mosaic pieces are the quintessential Hakone souvenir. If you’re planning to pick up some good deals on designer brands, head to the Gotemba Premium Outlets, located north of Hakone.
The outlet has more than 290 shops, including European labels and popular Japanese brands like Asics, Seiko, and Pokemon Store. You can pick up clothes, accessories, sportswear, tableware, and electronics. The facility also has several restaurants and cafes, and is open till 8:00 p.m in the summer. Look out for views of Mount Fuji on clear days!
You can access Gotemba via bus from Gora. The journey is about 45 minutes. Alternatively, it takes an hour from Hakono-Yumoto Station, but note that buses are less frequent. Both buses are free for Hakone Freepass holders.
You can return to the city directly from Gotemba Premium Outlet via direct express bus. It takes about 90 minutes to reach Shinjuku or Tokyo Station.
Hakone is all about hot springs. If your schedule permits, spend a night at a hot spring ryokan!
Hakone has more than 20 iconic hot spring villages. Learn about what makes some of these places unique before deciding where to stay.
Gotemba Premium Outlets