Hakone is a gorgeous mountainous area in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. Officially classified as a Geopark by UNESCO, Hakone is famous throughout Japan for its sulfur hot springs, Shinto shrines, and black eggs hard boiled in sulfur. Hakone is just a short train ride from Tokyo, as a result it has become a luxurious tourist town that couples traditional Japanese grace with extravagance and comfort.
Odakyu Hakone Romance Car is by far the easiest and most luxurious way to travel to Hakone from Tokyo. This sleek train is shaped like a shinkansen bullet train, with vast windows, and comfortable seating, offering a scenic tour of the countryside. With a top speed of 145 km/h, the Romance Car will get you into Hakone in about an hour and a half.
What to Do
- Hakone Jinja Shrine is a grand, traditional Japanese Shinto shrine with a vivid red tori gates nestled nearby in the waters of Lake Ashi.
- Lake Ashi is a 19 km crater lake next to the Hakone Jinja Shrine. On a good day, you can see Mt. Fuji from any of the ferry cruises. If you can, try to get to Lake Ashi early in the morning; the sunrise over the lake, mountains, and nearby shrine is absolutely breathtaking.
- The Hakone Open-Air Museum is the first and largest open air museum in Japan. With an interactive, 70,000 square meter sculpture garden and works from Picasso, Henry Moore, and Churyo Sato, the Hakone Open-Air Museum is a great place to spend the afternoon.
- The Great Boiling Valley (Owakudani) is a volcanic valley with sulfur hot springs. It is famous for their kurotamago (black eggs) that are hard-boiled inside the sulfur springs.
The Tenzan Tohjikyo hot springs have natural cave formation baths to provide an unique experience for foreigners.
Hakone Hotel Kowakien has both a water park for those that prefer wearing bathing suits and a traditional hot springs for those going au natural. The traditional side has Dead Sea style salt baths with different temperatures and concentrations, while the outdoor section has waterslides and rapid pools.
Hakone Kamon is a more simple and traditional onsen bath house, famous for their indoor and outdoor baths, including baths in large ceramic pots called Tsubo Baths.
Hakone Yuryo has public and private bath rooms for families or couples that wish to bathe together.
What to Eat
Try kinmedai (a local white meat fish with golden eyes) sushi caught from Sagami Bay and kamaboko fish cakes. Eat fresh soba at the Hatsuhana soba shop along the Haya River. Most shops use the crystal-clear river water to cook soba and tofu.
Munch on the mountain brownies in Sagamiya. These freshly made Hakone brownies are popular among tourists.
Try a black egg, kurotamago, from the sulfur springs. Mottled black on the outside and normal on the inside, according to Japanese legend, these eggs will prolong your life by seven years. But the legend cautions not to eat more than 2 1/2 eggs at a time!
Where to Stay
Hakone Ichinoyu Honkan is a gorgeous Japanese styled ryokan luxury hotel with a long established history in the area. With public and private bathrooms, extensive facilities, and a famous beauty salon, Ichinoyu is the essence of tradition and elegance.
Gora Kadan is the former summer villa of the Japanese imperial family. Famous for its luxury, architecture and onsen for promoting smooth skin and good health, the Gora Kadan is a tourist favorite.
Taiseikan is a traditional Japanese ryokan nestled in the river valley. Meals are brought to your room and the outdoor onsen hot springs provides an excellent view of the valley.
Fujiya Hotel is a magnificent and historic Victorian style hotel that blends Western and Japanese styles, creating an area of comfort for visitors.
Good list of recommendations.
I'd suggest to include ride Ropeway and get off at Mt Fuji sighting for pictures taking. I know Ropeway is stop operating temporarily at this time due to volcanic activity but still it's one of the highlight of Hakone. Also taking a duck boat ride for a close up picture of Hakone Jinja Shrine Gate is worth doing while in Lake Ashi.
Hakone is full of a lot of adventures seeing volcanic scenery and cruising on the lake close to Mt Fuji and one of the popular destinations for Tokyo people, where natural beauty can be appreciated, including seeing mountain ranges from Rope way..Nice post..!!
Our 50th wedding anniversary is coming up in 2015 and visiting Hakone will be a dream come true. Touring the beautiful lake with Mt. Fuji in the background and soaking in a onsen would be heavenly.
If I won this trip i would role on the ground and cry of happiness:) i love japan so much, god willing i will go there someday<3
Lake Ashi is only half hour from my home town, Odawara. Hakone is also well know as hot spring. Mt. Fuji is now registered as World Cultural Heritage.
It looks so beautiful, would love to see your country. Would love to ride the train, but most of all would love to meet your people.
We went there a couple of years ago. Hakone was fantastic. Everyone we met was polite and helpful. We got to try out our Japanese language skills as did the locals with their English. It was a lot of fun. We were in Japan for nearly a month and it still wasn't enough. I can't wait for my next trip back to Japan. Next time I want to summit Fuji-san.
If you're going to Japan I definitely recommend you spend a couple of days exploring Hakone. Take a soak in the onsens, make a trip to Fuji, eat where the locals eat instead of the chain fast food places or the expensive hotel restaurants.
THIS IS WHERE MY WIFE & i WANTED TO HONEYMOON. JUST READING ABOUT ANY AREA OF JAPAN HAS ME SO EXCITED. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE BEING IN THE MIST OF IT ALL. HOW GREAT WOULD THAT BE. SAFE JOURNEY .TO ME OR WHOM EVER WINS.
Same same but different: http://www.monkeyislandresort.com/surrounding/lan-ha-bay-vietnam.html
This must be Lake Ashi no Ko. I love the whole Hakone area, and, in fact, I taught at summer seminars for English teachers for the All Japan Conference of Commercial High Schools in Yumoto. Natsukashii!
We did that Hakone day trip!! Didn't look like this but sure wish it did. Cloudy as heck and Fuji was hiding.
I actually missed going on that pirate ship!!! The day I was there the pier was closed because of rain/thick fog...was so mad..:(