Is Hakone Worth Traveling?
Is Hakone worth traveling is a question in your mind when visiting to Japan. It’s a must-visit in your plan in Japan because it offers you many tourist attractions. However, you are in the middle between Hakone and Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
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Ignoring a visit to Hakone in your plan may be regret after your trip to Japan. You should make a day trip to Hakone on the way from Tokyo or to Osaka or Kyoto. Hakone represents a mountainous town noted for its volcanic valley, stunning hot springs. Red torii in Ashi Lake, and the Hakone shrines.
Below, the article rounds up all the need-to-dos which tell you the best thing to view, to do, and to enjoy in Hakone. From there, you can predict how much time you want to spend and how to get there.
What is Hakone famous for?
Hakone is one of the cultural, historical, and natural relics in Japan. It's a chance for you to experience Hakone’s stunning attractions by accessing cultural and historical places or exploring cultural activities like geisha’s life.
Owakudani and the black eggs
Owakudani, the volcanic valley, is a huge attraction in Hakone. It’s very exciting to observe volcanic activity in which volcanic gas emerges from several spots. It’s an amazing thing if you have never witnessed a magical natural phenomenon in your life.
Also, it is famous for its black eggs which extend your life to several years if you eat one. It’s true or not, I don’t know, a black egg is a regular one that is boiled in a certain hot spring. A spring contains iron and makes an eggshell turn black. It’s safe to eat these eggs.
You should pay attention that volcanic activity is happening. Some areas and paths may be closed in the active volcano. If you get respiratory diseases, allergic asthma, heart diseases, and pacemakers, you should stay away from the volcano. Newborns, very small children, and pregnant women are careful. In addition, there exists a strong smell of sulfur that emerges from the volcanic gas.
The Hakone ropeway is a means to take you from Togendai Station to Owakudani valley. More than only a kind of transportation, it offers you a trip sightseeing in the open air to have an incredible view. A ropeway cabin runs from peaceful views over Lake Ashi and the imposing mountain and ends up in the overwhelmingly impressive Owakudani valley.
There is nothing to make you bored with this trip to Hakone. However, watch out, some people who feel “at-risk” to take a trip shouldn’t take this trip.
Hakone is famous for its compelling hot springs. There is no way to complain about the quality of water. Additionally, it offers many public baths and private baths for your choice. You will find private baths in traditional Japanese inns and have to reserve in advance. If your plan is a day's stay, a private bath is a must.
Hot springs in Hakone are too numerous to count. Pick Yunessun and Tenzan as they are of particular interest to international visitors.
Yunessun is an international hot spring theme park that includes relaxing grounds such as sprawling grounds and baths. In bathing, you will explore tubs with coffee, wins, herbs, and water slides.
Tenzan is one of the standard hot springs with beautiful open-air baths. To go there, you have a free shuttle bus from Hakone-Yumoto station. The thing turns the hot spring popular as it accepts tattoos. Japan’s official policy states that tattooed people aren’t welcomed.
Lake Ashi is a scenic place on a visit to Hakone with a background of Mount Fuji if the weather is fine with no clouds in the sky. It came in shape nearly 3,000 years ago after the eruption of Mount Hakone. To cross the lake, you take some boats or even a pirate ship to have a glimpse of the Hakone area.
The best way to have a magnificent panorama in winter is early in the morning or late in the afternoon on a clear day. Traveling in Lake Ashi offers you the serenity and beauty of nature.
There are only three ships at service at present. You take it on a cruise to the other side of Lake Ashi. Each trip takes at most 35 minutes for one way and 70 minutes for the round trip.
You can have a choice of Royal II, a French-inspired ship, or Victory, a British-inspired ship, or Queen Ashinoko, the most fantastic and recent ship of the three.
Hakone Shrine is the best shrine on a trip to Hakone and even in Japan. In an enchanted atmosphere, on a way leading to the shrine’s building, you will view red lanterns hung on both sides of the road, and at the end of roads, there is the main hall, standing in the grandiose nature.
In the shrine surrounding, there is a well-known “baby wishing tree” where visitors pray for having a baby. Many people come there for this reason to satisfy their curiosity.
Hakone open-air museum
The Hakone Open-Air Museum displays a variety of ancient sculptures in a quiet setting. If you want to learn about modern art and nature, this is your appropriate destination. Plus, all exhibitions take place outside, you will see different views in different seasons. Don’t think there is the same experience in autumn or spring, for instance.
If you go with your children, they have their own place. A facility of artwork, named Woods of Net, provides them with a playground. It has nothing to do with regular museums.
The Ninja Bus is a simple means in Hakone. It includes some bus rides per day. They start at 9:30 am and end at about 3:45 pm. So, you go there early to get this bus. One of the experiences is that the bus “cruise” leaves the road and goes into the lake’s waters, making water splash everywhere.
You should know that there are only 42 seats per ride; you should buy a ticket in advance to reserve your place.
It dated back to 1886 and used to be a summer retreat for the royal families in Japan, but now it turns into a lovely, popular public park near Lake Ashi’s shore. The palace was regrettably damaged in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.
It’s an opportunity for you to have a tour in the Lakeside Panorama Pavilion and Lakeside Observation Building, just a stone throw away from the ruins of the summer imperial residence. On the 2nd floor, you have a nice look at the lake and Mt Fuji.
Walking along a criss-cross of paths ideal for a stroll, you can enjoy a lovely view of the charming cherry blossoms in spring or summer, the attracting blooming lilies, or in autumn, the impressive autumn colors.
- Opening hours: 09:00 am – 17:00/ 5 pm
- Admission: Free
- To get there: You get a boat across Lake Ashi. The Park is on the lake’s shoreside. From JR Odawara Station, you take a bus to Hakone-machi and leave at the Onshi-Koen Mae stop.
- Visit the Park’s webpage for more information
How do you get to Hakone from Tokyo?
You will have some solutions to go to Hakone by public transportation. The good choice is to take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station with a Japan Rail Pass in hand.
The Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen or Japanese high-speed rail line runs faster and is counted in this pass. Next, you pick the local train on Hakone Tozan Rail Line to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Also, there are a few ways to get to Hakone using public transportation.
For other itineraries, you don’t need the Japan Rail Pass. There is the Romancecar train from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. This trip is not included in the Pass, so you’ll buy a ticket at the price of around 2,300 yen for one way, which takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Above is a need-to-know list of what to do on a visit to Hakone. However, I only list some of the most impressive and important things. With a full-day visit, I think you can visit the highlights of Hakone.
If you plan to stay two nights, it’s perfect for your visit, mainly your first visit. It allows you some extra time for every spot to fully experience and understand Hakone’s characteristics of culture and tradition.
To save time, you stay in Odawara, which is a little cheap. It is around 7.2 km from Hakone. Hence, you don’t spend lots of time traveling. Or you stop at Hakone on the way to Kyoto since the rail line stops at Odawara.