Hakone is an area we highly recommend visiting during your stay in Tokyo. A popular onsen (hot spring) resort town, Hakone is located near the ocean, surrounded by mountains, and offers superb viewing spots for Mount Fuji, plus popular power spots and other unique attractions.
It is one of the best resort areas in Japan. And it only takes about an hour by train to reach Hakone from Tokyo. Let’s take a look at the relaxing hot springs, scenic locations and more!
Hakone Access: Easy From Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station
The standard route to Hakone from Tokyo is taking the Odakyu Romancecar which goes directly to Hakone Yumoto Station - the gateway to the Hakone area. There are also other methods to reach Hakone such as taking the Shinkansen or express bus from Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station.
Shinjuku Station → <Odakyu Romancecar Hakone, Super Hakone> → Hakone Yumoto Station (about 1 hours 25 minutes)
Shinjuku Station → <Odakyu Express Rapid Express / Express> → Hakone Yumoto Station (about 1 hour 30 minutes)
Shinjuku Station → <Shonan-Shinjuku Line Special Rapid> → Odawara Station → <Hakone Tozan Line> → Hakone Yumoto Station (about 1 hour 30 minutes)
Tokyo Station → <JR Tokaido Shinkansen Kodama> → Odawara Station → <Hakone Tozan Line> → Hakone Yumoto Station (about 50 minutes)
Tokyo Station → (JR Tokaido Line Limited Express Odoriko> → Odawara Station → <Hakone Tozan Line> → Hakone Yumoto Station (about 1 hour 15 minutes)
Tokyo Station → <JR Tokaido Line Rapid Acty> → Odawara Station → <Hakone Tozan Line> → Hakone Yumoto Station (about 1 hour 30 minutes)
The popular Odakyu Romancecar is a special rapid train and all seats are designated, and some train cars have scenic seats. There is also a cafe corner and you can buy some bento boxed meals and relax there.
Shinjuku Bus Terminal (4th floor) or Tokyo Yaesu South Exit → <Odakyu Hakone Express Bus Hakone Line> → Hakone Togendai (about 2 hours 15 minutes)
Key Hakone Sightseeing Spots by Area
Before you visit Hakone, let’s look at the main sightseeing spots. It is good to know the various features of each area.
●Hakone Yumoto: Where Hakone Tourism Started
The final destination of Odakyu Romancecar, Hakone Yumoto Station is an area bustling with tourists. The shopping area in front of the station has over 50 souvenir shops and you can snack on hot spring steamed buns while you explore the area.
We also can’t forget that Hakone Yumoto is the oldest hot spring resort in Hakone. Not only are there long established hotels, but they also have casual facilities perfect for day-trips.
●Retro Cityscape of Miyanoshita
Miyanoshita flourished around Fujiya Hotel, a long-established lodging facility loved by VIPs around the world. Miyanoshita has an impressive retro cityscape that has attracted many foreign visitors since the Meiji period.
Fujiya Hotel with its beautiful statues and many other attractions, is closed until summer of 2020 for renovations. However at the annex Kikka-so, which has a beautiful Japanese garden, you can enjoy wonderful Japanese meals and day-trip hot springs. Also there are other facilities with over 100 years of history in the area.
●Enjoy Hot Springs and Museums in Kowakudani
A popular facility at Kowakudani is Hakone Kowakien Yunessun with unique hot springs such as hot springs with slides. It is split in two sections of Yunessun area which requires swimsuits and offers wine baths and green tea baths, and the Mori no Yu area which is a relaxing area you go in without wearing anything.
We also recommend the Okada Museum of Art that has Japanese art on display along with Chinese and Korean paintings and pottery.
●Take the Mountain Railway to Reach the Quiet Hot Spring Area Gora
The final station of the famous Hakone Tozan Railway Gora is the second largest hot spring area in next to Hakone Yumoto. The mountain railway that zigzags through the steep slope of the mountain is an exciting ride for children and adults.
Gora has many places where one can feel nature such as the Hakone Open-Air Museum where art and nature is in harmony and Japan’s oldest French style garden Hakone Gora Park.
●Magnificent View Spot at Owakudani
Owakudani, the place where white smoke rises and the smell of sulfur lingers, was created about 3,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption and the volcano is still active. Seeing the white smoke rise from various places, you can understand why Owakudani is called Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley).
To reach Owakudani we recommend taking the Hakone Ropeway that connects Sounzan Station and Togendai Station. Taking the ropeway you can see a dynamic view of the area with smoke rising. Also don’t forget to try the local specialty, 'Onsen Tamago' or black egg. (It's basically a regular egg that's been hard boiled in volcanic heated water.) It is said that if you eat one of these your life expectancy increases by 7 years.
●Pirate Ship Cruise in Lake Ashi
The volcanic explosion that happened 3,000 years ago created Lake Ashi (Ashinoko), a large caldera lake with an elevation of 724 m and a circumference of approximately 19km. At Lake Ashi a popular attraction is the sightseeing cruises and there is even a pirate ship cruise.
From the ship deck you can get a view of Mt. Fuji and various seasonal views such as cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, snowscape and fresh verdure. On the shores of Lake Ashi is Hakone Shrine, which is known for good fortune towards matchmaking.
●Kyukaido Area, Where You Can Feel the Remnant of Edo Period
Kyukaido is a part of the Tokaido, a path connecting Tokyo to Kyoto during the Edo period, and was known as a tough area with many slopes. The 3km path from Hakone Town to Hatajuku Town was known as an inn town area and along the path there are many cobbled stone paths and avenues of cedars, a remnant of the Edo period.
●Fully Enjoy Nature and Art at Sengokuhara
In autumn the susuki grass meadow turns silver at Sengokuhara, a plateau area located at the foot of Mt. Kintoki where the famous Japanese tale of Kintaro took place. Also the area has many unique museums such as the Lalique Museum Hakone, which is perfect for an art tour.
●Japan’s Largest Outlet Mall at Gotemba
An area you would want to visit while in Hakone is Gotemba, an enormous outlet mall with 210 shops including famous brands and dining facilities. Gotemba is located near an interchange making access by car easy, and there is also a bus from Hakone.
Seasonal Activities in Hakone!
●Hakone in Spring: Great View of Cherry Blossoms and Azaleas
In March it is still cold and the average temperature is around 6 degrees Celsius and you need to dress warm, but in April it starts to get warmer and cherry blossoms start to bloom from Hakone Yumoto to Lake Ashi. In May the temperature rises to 15 degrees Celsius and beautiful azaleas bloom in various areas such as the famous Hotel de Yama. As a reminder it still gets cool at night during April to May so make sure to bring a jacket.
●Hakone in Summer: Hydrangea and Festivals
From June to July the Ajisai Densha (hydrangea train) operates providing a great view of hydrangea and in August, summer festivals and fireworks festivals are held. There are many events during summer in Hakone. The rainy season is in June and the weather may not be great, but summer is in full swing in July and August. However the average temperature in Hakone is 23 degrees and it might be a good idea to carry a light outer wear just to be safe.
●Hakone in Autumn: Beautiful Silver Grass and Colored Fall Leaves
The average temperature in September is around 21 degrees Celsius , however it does get chilly at night and early in the morning. In October the temperature drops to about 14 degrees Celsius and autumn is in the air. At Sengokuhara a field full of silver susuki grass can be seen and from November colored leaves are visible all over the place. In November the temperature will drop below 10 degrees Celsius, so make sure to dress warm.
●Hakone in Winter: The Best Season to View Mt. Fuji
With clear air during winter in Hakone, you may get a great view Mt. Fuji. Especially the reflection of Mt. Fuji on Lake Ashi is magnificent. However it is very cold and be very careful for snow and road freeze. The average temperature in December is around 6 degrees Celsius and in January it will drop to 2 degrees Celsius so make sure to dress warm.
main image：Krishna.Wu / Shutterstock.com
Sightseeing in the Owakudani Area
From May 19, 2019 the Japan Meteorological Agency decided to raise the volcanic alert status to Level 2, meaning there is increased activity and that the crater should not be approached. As a result, the ropeway traversing this area has been closed. Details may be found below.
●Hakone Ropeway Status:
●Volcanic alerts: Japan Meteorological Agency
●Other tourism information on Hakone
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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