Hakone Travel Guide
Similar to Nikko in the sense that it is one of traveler’s favorite day trips from Tokyo, Hakone is a top tourist spot for both visitors and residents in Japan (ranking high in the top ten). Key features are: Lake Ashi with the picturesque red torii gate on the shore line, the superfluity of renowned hot springs, mountain vistas and more.
It should be noted that Hakone has very little civilization, and is mostly forests, mountains and lakes, so don’t expect to find the same resources and conveniences that you would in Tokyo (we are alluding to the fact that there is just one convenience story in the city).
Hakone Restaurants & Food [view all]
Experience Local Dinning
Traditional Japanese dining with a wealth of dishes, most of them being freshly caught seafood. Menu items include fresh Sea Bream Fillet with sesame sauce, and Pepper Chirimen. The restaurant has a set menu which starts at 3,000 yen in mid day and then in the evening the menu starts at 4,000 yen. You will pick from a wide assortment, and will end up with nearly a dozen dishes being served to you.
A quaint restaurant on the river, the Shikajaya has a simple menu feature mostly Tofu and Yamaimo dishes (Japanese yams). The food here is original, and is based on a set menu, where you choose three dishes. For example the Tofu Tenshin selection includes:
1) Sauteed tofu seasoned with soy sauce, served with sliced welsh onion, grated ginger, shavings of dried bonito and a cube of butter.
2) Cold tofu served with a paste of sesame grated horseradish and miso.
3) Tofu cooked in a kelp stock, served with grated Japanese yam seasoned with miso.
Sets average around 1,900 yen.
Hakone Kare Kokoro
For something a little more laid back and easier on your wallet, check out Hakone Curry Cocoro and score some Hakone Style Curry Rice (Kare Raisu).
The restaurant touts ‘life-prolonging’ spring water which is used in its cooking as being good for health and body enzymes. While any health benefits remain to be unseen the curry is delicious and is reason enough to partake.
The menu items vary and is focus around curry (no surprise), such as curry and rice with veggies (1080 yen), or curry and rice with fried pork, which is the house specialty (1580 yen). And if you really are on a budget there is ‘normal curry’ for 880 yen.
Gotemba Premium Outlets
The most extensive and exhausting shopping experience you can have in Hakone is at the Gotemba Premium Outlets. This sprawling outlet mall is situated 30 minutes east of Hakone city by car and stands with Mount Fuji in its background, making it a particularly charming outdoor shopping experience.
The complex has all relevant Western brands represented as well as man Japanese brands.
After you’ve collapsed from all of your vital shopping you can rest your legs and fill your bellies at any of the fine eateries; which include McDonalds and Tully’s Coffee.
Hakone Sightseeing & Attractions [view all]
Our top picks of things to see and do
Hakone Museum of Art
Get a slice of culture and history at the Hakone Museum of Art (MOA), which features pieces dating back as far as 10,000 BC up to the 1800’s. The pieces are primarily ceramics, form the simple and mundane to intricate sculptures.
In addition to the mirror into the past the grounds feature a rather tranquil Moss Garden as well as a traditional Japanese landscaped garden (Sekirakuen Garden) complete with a tea house, where you can enjoy a cup of green tea and a sweat snack as you take in the serenity. The garden is only available for visitors on weekends.
The fee to experience said culture and history is 900 yen.
1300 Gora, Hakone-machi, Kanagawa-prefecture 250-0408
If you’ve had your fill of traditional Japanese style gardens during your tour of Japan and want to spice things up a bit by all means go take a peak at the Gora Park which is done in the traditional French Style. But it doesn’t stop there, for a few extra bucks (or yen) you can participate in some pretty nifty activities, which makes this garden a rather unique experience. Activities include: glass blowing, glass etching, pottery and dried flower arrangement. Be prepared however to fork over 1000 – 3000 yen.
1300 Gora Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0408
Enveloped in a sea of mist hides Hakone’s most important shrine: the Hakone Shrine. The approach the shrine however starts far below at the shore of Ashinoko Lake, where a floating torii stands contrasting the blue waters with its bright red lacquer. This layout offers the traveler an excellent and very scenic hike from the shore up to the misty hills.
Hakone Tozan Railway
Possibly the only time you will every ride a commuter train in Japan for the sole purpose of leisure and not of reaching a destination will be when you hop on the Hakone Tozan train and go on a thirty minute winding ride through the scenic hills and valleys. If you are lucky enough to go in the summer time you will be present for the bloom of the omnipresent hydrangeas which makes the train ride into a most charming flower gazing trip. The trip costs 390 yen one way.
For those daring spirits who seek it peril and adventure are close at hand in Hakone! Take the Hakone Tozan cable car from Gora station to Sounzan Station, and transfer to the Hakone Ropeway line, and take that to Owakudani. At which point you can begin your trek up the still active volcano towards the summit (Mount Hakone). As you ascend you will be confronted with sharp slippery rock, gusts of winds. The trek will take you two hours.
Once you have persevered all obstacles and reached the summit you can take in the magnificent view of Mount Fuji and neighboring areas. After you have made your descent back to the Owakudani rope station, treat yourself to a reward at the vendor, who sells eggs boiled directly in the hot springs. It is said that each egg you eat will give you an additional seven years of life.
Sengokubara-1251 Hakone, 250-0631, Japan
In days of old Hakone was a key checkpoint for the road to Kyoto and Tokyo, connecting the East and West of Japan. This isn’t however the case in present day, but don’t let that stop you from going to check it out and walk the path that millions did before you, in another era. Additionally the Hakone Checkpoint was recently renovated and brought back to its full glory.
Hakone Hot Springs
If there is one thing and one thing only that Hakone is famous for it is its plethora of hot springs, for just around Hakoneyumoto station you can find a dozen in relatively close proximity (and it is not surprising as the word Hakoneyumoto means “Hakone Hot Water Source). Local favorites include: “Tenzan Tōjigō” and “Hakone Kowakien Yunessun”
NOTE: The main train station in Hakone is not Hakone station it is Hakone-yumoto Station. (so as to prevent any confusion that may ensue).
Fortunately for those who want it there is a Shinkansen option for reaching Hakone. However the station is in a neighboring city called Odawara, where you will have to transfer off your shinkansen and get on a local commuter train and take it from Odawara Station to Hakoneyumoto Station via the Hakone Tozan line. The trip from Shinagawa or Tokyo Station to Odawara will cost 3500 yen one way, and takes about 30 minutes. The train from Odawara to Hakoneyumoto will take 15 minutes and cost 300 yen.
If you have some more time on your hands and want to save some dough you can take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku straight to Odawara for 1150 yen. This is the favored way to go and only costs 1150 yen. Once you reach Odawara you will transfer to the Hakone Tozan line and take that train to Hakoneyumoto Station, and bam you’re in. That transfer will cost 300 yen and take about 15 minutes.
Unfortunately there are no airplane travel solutions for Hakone. Unless you charter the Spruce Goose and you set her right down in Ashinoko Lake, you’re out of luck.
A popular solution is highway bus. Starting out of Shinjuku, buses typically take two hours to reach Hakoneyumoto station, which is good because there are no transfers (because its a bus), so it takes you directly there. The bus fee is 2000 yen.
Hakone Hotels & Accommodations [view all]
Cheapest and best places to stay
Being a top tourist city in Japan there are plenty of accommodations in Hakone, many with breath-taking vistas, but of course the more breath-taking the vista the higher the price.
Resting on a mountain side the aptly named Fujiya Hotel not only has a tremendous view but is in itself a work of art. Both the exterior and interiors are luxuriously designed. And it gets better, the pricing is rather affordable, at 8,000 yen for a one bedroom with two occupants. (8,000 yen is for every day of the week except for Saturday. If you book on a Saturday you will pay an exorbitant 14,000 yen...)
If you want more than just the basic room, you can choose the “flower palace” and spend 29,000 yen per night in the lap of luxury.
Aside from the rooms the hotel has an abundant amount of features including a hot springs bath, swimming pool (outdoor and indoor), a garden, a green house and a variety of lounges and restaurants.
If you want to kick it up a notch from the Fujiya, the next level higher would be the Okada Hotel, with rooms with two beds starting at 11,500 yen and going as high as 23,000 yen. There is a variety of Japanese style rooms, Western style rooms and even fusion rooms, with a bit of each form each world. You’ll find the rooms to be neat, clean and very attractive.
The hotel itself is rather large, offering 117 rooms and a slue of facilities such as:
-Individual Karaoke Rooms
-Ramen Noodle Counter
191 Yumotochaya, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
For something slightly more affordable is the Hotel Asuka. With single rooms coming in at 8,900 yen it is comparable with the Fujiya however not quite as grand.
As with all other hotels in the area the Asuka comes complete with an indoor spa and outdoor spa so you can sooth your nerves after all the arduous sightseeing you’ll be doing.
341 Yumoto, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
+81 460-85-8110 ·