BEST Things To Do In Hakone In 2019
Located in Kanagawa, which is not far from Tokyo, Hakone is an ideal destination for not only Japanese but also tourists all over the world seeking for a quiet and peaceful place to relax on the weekends. Hakone is a town noted for onsen (hot springs), a paradise of picturesque nature and a gathering point of tourist attractions such as museums or parks. Arriving here, you can’t miss the top fantastic things to do in Hakone below. Let’s check them out now!
Top 5 Best Things To Do in Hakone
1. Lake Ashinoko
Lake Ashinoko can be on the top of the must-be-visited place list in your itinerary when you go to Hakone. Formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago, the lake offers the best views of Mount Fuji which is a well-known symbol of Japan.
The most scenic view is enjoyed from Moto-Hakone, a small port town on the south-east side of the lake. Tourists visiting Lake Ashi tend to look for lake-side hotels, restaurants, and hot springs, so Moto-Hakone is extremely touristy. At the southern shores of Lake Ashinoko, on the peninsula between Moto-Hakone and Hakone-machi, next to the Hakone Checkpoint is the Hakone Detached Palace. This used to be a summer palace for the Japanese Imperial Family, but it is now open to the public and free for visitors. Surrounding the ancient palace is a beautiful park named Onshi Hakone Park, which offers nice walking trails and stunning views of Lake Ashinoko and Mount Fuji on good weather conditions. Mount Fuji is the most visible and appealing during the colder seasons or in the early morning and the late evening.
2. Hakone Open Air Museum
Visiting Hakone Open Air Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Hakone. This museum is a successful combination of art and nature with numerous large sculptures and wonderful views of surrounding valleys and mountains. One of the most notable among exhibition spaces indoors and outdoors in the Museum is the Picasso Exhibition Hall.
With two storeys displaying over 300 paintings, sculptures and ceramic works by Pablo Picasso in addition to photos of him during his life, the Hall becomes one of the largest collection of works by the talented artist in the world. Of the outdoor sculptures, one of the largest is the Symphonic Sculpture, which visitors can enter and climb a spiral staircase surrounded by colorful stained glass to reach a platform offering the views of the park and the surrounding mountains.
Besides, the Hakone Open Air Museum has several more exhibition halls with rotating exhibitions by various artists and it is also home to many shops, cafes, kid spaces such as Zig Zag World and an outdoor foot bath.
3. Hakone Shrine
At the foot of Mount Hakone and at the end of Lake Ashinoko stands the large torii gate of Hakone Shrine, one of the most recognizable icons in the area.
From here, tourists can follow the path lined with red lanterns leading to the shrine buildings, which are located in a dense forest.
Several other torii gates, a smaller shrine dedicated to the legendary 9-headed dragon Kururyu and the main shrine contribute to the formation of the shrine complex. Back to the past, the shrine was originally established on the summit of Komagatake, one of Mount Hakone’s multiple peaks, but in 1667 it was relocated to the shore of Lake Ashinoko. The original Hakone Shrine called Mototsumiya is known for often being shrouded in mist, which makes it a truly breathtaking destination of tourists when they pay a visit to Hakone. To visit Mototsumiya, tourists can take the Komagatake Ropeway or walk up hiking paths.
4. Hakone Onsen
Hakone is famous for having been one of Japan’s most popular hot spring destinations for thousands of years. So when picking things to do in Hakone, you shouldn’t miss this destination.
When coming here, tourists can enjoy the onsen waters of Hakone at a public bathhouse or at a ryokan (Japanese style inn). Baths in many ryokans are opened not only to staying guests but also to daytime visitors; however, daytime visitors need to pay an admission fee of between 500 and 2000 yen. Fancy ryokan often offers excellent service with one staff for every two or three customers. Bathing in Hakone Yuryo bath complex, bathers can have chances to enjoy pleasant views of the surrounding forest while they soak. The complex has separate public areas for both genders with a variety of pools as well as a wide selection of private baths for families or couples. Besides bathing, visitors can explore a multitude of quaint shops, restaurants and other attractive places in Hakone Yumoto, one of the onsen towns in Hakone.
5. Hakone Tozan Railway
The Hakone Tokan Railway, Japan’s oldest mountain railway, caters to railway enthusiasts with unique little trains and stations. The Railway consists of two sections and the upper section from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora is much more spectacular than the lower one.
It is served by the small mountain trains, which follow a narrow path through dense forests over many bridges and through old mountain tunnels. This is definitely a great way to get a panoramic view of the mountains in the area. The train ride from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora is best in early July when plenty of hydrangeas (ajisai) bloom along the track and the flowers are illuminated at night, which makes the ride more thrilling.
Above are the most attractive places recommended to visit when you travel to Hakone in Japan. With a combination of wonderful nature and beautiful landmarks, Hakone is really a destination for photo enthusiasts. Coming here, your smartphones or cameras can be full of picturesque photos without editing. In addition, your life expectancy can be longer when you enjoy the Hakone onsen and breathe fresh air. Hakone is so close to Tokyo that you can easily make a weekend or even a day trip getaway. It is convenient to take the Hakone Free Pass to get around Hakone as this pass allows unlimited access to all the buses, trains, boats, cable cars and ropeways in the Hakone area.
Now, you have known what to do in Hakone when you come here to visit. Hopefully, this blog will give you useful information about the place. Visiting Hakone is truly a perfect choice for those who love nature and peace. Hakone will help to release all of your stress in life and refresh your mind. In conclusion, your life journey cannot be complete with no trip to Hakone.