Hakone is a small mountain town located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. It is a popular tourist destination and is known for its natural hot springs, stunning views of Mount Fuji, and historical landmarks. Visitors to Hakone can experience the beauty of traditional Japan while enjoying modern amenities and activities.
With its close proximity to Tokyo, Hakone is an easy day trip or weekend getaway destination. However, with so much to see and do, it is recommended to spend at least two or three days exploring the area. From hiking and sightseeing to relaxing in a hot spring bath, there is something for everyone in Hakone.
This comprehensive Hakone travel guide will give you everything you need to know about the area. From the best time to visit, to the top attractions and activities, you will hopefully have all the information they need to plan your perfect Hakone vacation.
With insider tips and recommendations, we hope this guide will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful part of Japan.
Getting to Hakone
Hakone is a popular tourist destination located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. It is easily accessible from Tokyo and other nearby cities. Here are some of the best ways to get to Hakone:
One of the easiest ways to get to Hakone is by train. The Odakyu Railway operates a direct train service from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Hakone-Yumoto Station. The journey takes approximately 85 minutes and costs around 2,000 yen. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station and then transfer to the Odakyu Railway to get to Hakone.
Another option is to take a bus from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Hakone. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and costs around 2,000 yen. There are also direct buses from other nearby cities such as Yokohama and Odawara.
If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car and drive to Hakone. The journey from Tokyo takes approximately 2 hours, depending on traffic. There are several car rental companies located in Tokyo and at Haneda Airport.
The closest airport to Hakone is Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. From there, you can take a train or bus to Hakone. Alternatively, you can fly into Narita International Airport and take a train or bus to Hakone.
Overall, there are several convenient ways to get to Hakone from Tokyo and other nearby cities. Whether you prefer to travel by train, bus, car, or plane, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs.
Best Time to Visit Hakone
Hakone is a beautiful destination that can be visited year-round. However, the best time to visit Hakone depends on what you want to do and see during your trip. Here are some factors to consider when planning your visit:
Weather and Seasons
The weather in Hakone is generally mild, but it can vary depending on the season. The best time to visit Hakone is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is mild and comfortable. During these seasons, you can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms and autumn foliage that the area is known for.
Summer (June to August) is also a popular time to visit Hakone, but it can be quite hot and humid. If you plan to visit during the summer, be sure to bring light clothing and stay hydrated. Winter (December to February) can be cold, but it is a great time to visit if you want to enjoy the snow and winter sports.
Crowds and Prices
The peak tourist season in Hakone is during the spring and autumn seasons, so expect larger crowds and higher prices during these times. If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the summer or winter seasons when there are fewer tourists.
Hakone hosts several events throughout the year that may be of interest to visitors. The Hakone Ekiden Road Relay in January, the Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu parade in May, and the Hakone Yosegi Zaiku Exhibition in November are just a few examples of events that take place in Hakone. Be sure to check the event calendar when planning your visit.
Things to Do in Hakone
Hakone is a beautiful mountain town located just a few hours from Tokyo, Japan. It is a popular destination for nature lovers, hot spring enthusiasts, and those who want to enjoy a view of Mount Fuji. Here are some of the top things to do in Hakone:
- Visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum: This museum features a large collection of sculptures and artwork, as well as beautiful gardens and a hot spring foot bath.
- Take a boat ride on Lake Ashi: Lake Ashi is a scenic lake that offers beautiful views of Mount Fuji. Visitors can take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy the stunning scenery.
- Take a cable car ride: The Hakone Ropeway is a cable car that takes visitors up to the top of Mount Owakudani, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area and see the volcanic activity up close.
- Visit the Hakone Shrine: This beautiful Shinto shrine is located on the shores of Lake Ashi and is known for its iconic red torii gate.
- Relax in a hot spring: Hakone is famous for its hot springs, or onsen. Visitors can relax in one of the many hot spring resorts in the area and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich water.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Hakone. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, shopping, and trying local cuisine. It is a great destination for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.
Where to Stay in Hakone
Hakone is a popular destination for tourists visiting Japan, and there are plenty of accommodation options available. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious ryokan experience or a budget-friendly hostel, there’s something for everyone in Hakone.
One of the most popular options for visitors to Hakone is staying in a traditional Japanese ryokan. These are traditional Japanese inns that offer a unique cultural experience. Many ryokans have hot springs baths, called onsen, which are a great way to relax after a long day of sightseeing. Some of the most popular ryokans in Hakone include Gora Kadan, Yama No Chaya, and Hakone Ginyu.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are also plenty of hostels and guesthouses in Hakone. These are great options for backpackers or travelers on a budget. Some popular options include K’s House Hakone, B&B Pension Hakone, and Guesthouse Azito.
If you’re traveling with a family or a group of friends, renting a vacation home or apartment may be a good option. There are several vacation rental websites that offer properties in Hakone, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. These options can offer more space and privacy than a traditional hotel or ryokan.
Another option is to stay in a hotel in one of the larger towns in Hakone, such as Hakone-Yumoto or Gora. These areas have more options for dining and shopping and are also conveniently located near public transportation. Some popular hotels in these areas include Hakone Hotel Kowakien, Hotel Okada, and Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa.
When choosing where to stay in Hakone, it’s important to consider your budget, travel style, and preferred location. With so many options available, you’re sure to find the perfect accommodation for your Hakone trip.
What to Eat in Hakone
When it comes to food, Hakone is a paradise for foodies. The region is famous for its local delicacies, which include both traditional Japanese cuisine and international dishes. Here are some of the must-try foods in Hakone:
1. Kaiseki Ryori
One of the most famous cuisines in Hakone is Kaiseki Ryori, a multi-course Japanese meal that is served in traditional Japanese inns. The meal typically consists of a variety of small dishes that are beautifully presented and made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Kaiseki Ryori is not only delicious but also a feast for the eyes.
2. Black Eggs
If you visit Owakudani, a volcanic valley in Hakone, you must try the famous black eggs. These eggs are boiled in hot springs and have a black shell due to the sulfur in the water. According to local legend, eating one black egg will add seven years to your life.
3. Soba Noodles
Soba noodles are a popular dish in Hakone. The noodles are made from buckwheat flour and are served hot or cold with a dipping sauce or in a soup. The soba noodles in Hakone are famous for their nutty flavor and smooth texture.
4. Yose Nabe
Yose Nabe is a hot pot dish that is popular in Hakone during the winter months. The dish is made by simmering vegetables, tofu, and meat in a flavorful broth. The broth is usually made with dashi, a Japanese soup stock made from seaweed and bonito flakes.
5. Onsen Tamago
Onsen Tamago is a soft-boiled egg that is cooked in the hot springs. The egg is usually served with soy sauce and is a popular snack in Hakone. The egg has a unique texture and flavor due to the minerals in the hot springs.
6. Shojin Ryori
Shojin Ryori is a vegetarian cuisine that is popular in Hakone due to the region’s many Buddhist temples. The cuisine is made with seasonal vegetables and does not include meat or fish. The dishes are simple but flavorful and are often served in the traditional Japanese style.
These are some of the must-try foods in Hakone. However, there are many other delicious dishes to try in the region, so be sure to explore and try new things during your visit.
Hakone Travel Tips
When planning a trip to Hakone, there are a few travel tips that can help make the experience even better. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Consider purchasing a Hakone Free Pass, which allows for unlimited rides on designated transportation options in the area, including trains, buses, and cable cars. This pass can be a cost-effective way to explore the region.
- Be sure to pack appropriate clothing for the weather and activities planned. Hakone can experience a range of temperatures and weather conditions depending on the season, so it’s important to be prepared.
- When visiting hot springs or onsen, be aware of the etiquette and rules. For example, it is customary to bathe without clothing, and tattoos are often not allowed in public hot springs.
- Consider visiting Hakone during the off-season to avoid crowds and potentially save money on accommodations and transportation. However, be aware that some attractions may have limited hours or be closed during certain times of the year.
Additionally, here are some specific tips for certain activities in Hakone:
If planning to hike in Hakone, be sure to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, as some trails can be steep and uneven. It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of water and snacks, as there may not be many options for purchasing food or drinks along the way. Check the weather forecast and trail conditions before heading out, and be prepared to adjust plans if necessary.
Viewing Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is a popular attraction in the Hakone region, but visibility can be limited depending on the weather. To increase the chances of a clear view, consider visiting early in the morning or during the colder months when the air is clearer. Additionally, some viewpoints may require a bit of hiking or a cable car ride to reach, so plan accordingly.
The Sum Up
Overall, Hakone is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Japan. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and relaxing hot springs, there is something for everyone in this picturesque town.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, from hiking trails to boat rides, and from art museums to traditional Japanese gardens. The area is also known for its delicious local cuisine, including the famous black eggs boiled in hot springs.
One of the highlights of a trip to Hakone is the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s most iconic mountain. Visitors can take a cable car or ropeway to the top of Owakudani, a volcanic valley with stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding landscape.
When planning a trip to Hakone, it’s important to keep in mind that the area can get crowded during peak tourist season, so it’s best to book accommodations and activities in advance. It’s also a good idea to pack comfortable shoes and clothing, as there is a lot of walking and hiking involved in exploring the area.
Overall, a trip to Hakone is a unique and unforgettable experience that should not be missed. Whether you want to relax in a hot spring or take in the natural beauty of Japan, this charming town has something for everyone.