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More Than Just An Onsen Town: 12 Things To Do In Hakone, Japan

Melynie
Published Nov 16, 2016

Hakone is a mountainous town in the Ashigarashimo District of Kanagawa Prefecture close to Mount Fuji. Historically, Hakone was a post station on the Tokaido highway connecting Tokyo to Kyoto, but nowadays both Japanese and foreigners alike know Hakone as an onsen town. Less than a two-hour train ride from central Tokyo, Hakone has become a popular getaway for travelers looking to take a breath of fresh air and a dip in the hot springs.

However, few people realise that Hakone is home to many other attractions, from historical spots to modern art museums. Extending your trip to Hakone from a one-day getaway to a 2-3 day vacation will allow you to experience everything that Hakone has to offer! Here are 12 things you shouldn’t miss when in Hakone:

Top 3 activities to book in hakone

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Access information

If you are planning to visit Hakone, it is highly recommended that you purchase a Hakone Rail Pass, which allows you to ride the Hakone Tozan Railway, Hakone Cable Car, Hakone Ropeway and Hakone Sightseeing Cruise for free. The Hakone Rail Pass can be purchased at any station on the Odakyu Railway.

The fastest way to get to Hakone from central Tokyo is the Odakyu Romance car. Departing from Odakyu Shinjuku station multiple times a day, the Romance car is a comfortable mode of transportation that takes a little over an hour to reach Hakone. Additionally, if you purchase a Hakone Rail Pass, the fare for the Romance car is only 870 JPY (8.40 USD). The Romance car is very popular, so be sure to make your reservations in advance!

Once in Hakone, there are various modes of transportation, including the Hakone Tozan Railway and Hakone Cable Car for getting around. Public buses also run throughout the day from Hakone Station to points of interest.

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See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

1. Hakone Shrine - where samurai once prayed for victory

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Hakone is known to be the home to a handful of power spots, and Hakone Shrine is no exception. Situated at the foot of Mount Hakone, the shrine is noted for its five large torii gates, a sharp contrast to the peaceful waters of the nearby Lake Ashi. Visitors to the shrine can pray for anything from good fortune to love. It is also rumored that famous samurai, such as Minamoto Yorimoto and the Tokugawa family, also visited Hakone Shrine on their travels to pray for victory.

Hakone Shrine

Address: 80-1 Moto-Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: Free

Opening Hours: Always open

Access: 38-minute bus ride to Motohakone-ko bus stop from Hakone-Yumoto Station

Hakone Shrine

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2. Cleanse your money at Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine

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Another popular power spot in Hakone is Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine. Zeniarai can be translated literally as, “coin washing”. It is said that if you wash your money at the shrine it will double! The shrine is also noted for being surrounded by nature, with breathtaking hydrangea blooming from late June to July. The shrine is easily accessible from Tonosawa Station.

Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine

Address: Tonosawa, Hakone-machi, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: Free

Opening Hours: Always open

Access: 1-minute walk from Tonosawa Station

See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

3. Chisuji, Tamadare and Hiryunotaki Falls

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Hakone is home to not one, not two, but three amazing waterfalls. Chisuji Falls, Tamadare Falls and Hiryunotaki Falls, while arguably a little off the beaten path, allow visitors to experience true zen nature. The path to the falls is also home to Hakone’s famous hydrangea.

Chisuji Falls

Address: 507 Kowakudani, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa-prefecture

Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm. Closed on public holidays.

Access: 15-minute hike from Kowakidani station of Hakone Tozan Line

Contact: +81 460-85-7410

See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

4. Hakone Sekisho - Edo's largest checking point

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History buffs should definitely make it a point to check out Hakone Sekisho. The inspection facility was one of the largest in Japan at the time, and a crucial point to defend Edo. Although the current checking station is a restoration made in 2007, the Hakone Sekisho was believed to be originally constructed in 1619 and used until the Meiji government banned it in 1868. A museum can also be found on the grounds, and it features Hakone’s history and a tea shop.

Hakone Sekisho

Address: 1 Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: 500 JPY (4.85 USD) (general admission)

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm. (Winter 9am-4:30pm. Last admission at 30 minutes before closing)

Duration: around 45 minutes required.

Access: 2-minute walk from Hakonemachi bus station. The bus is available from both JR Odawara station and Hakone Yumoto station of Odakyu Line.

Hakone Sekisho

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5. Walk the road of the samurai

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Surrounded by a forest of trees blanketed in moss, the old Tokaido road is an attraction for visitors who really want to slip back in time to the Edo period. The Tokaido road was used by Edo samurai and travellers to get between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo). A long stretch of the Tokaido road passes through Hakone.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

6. Hakone Sightseeing Cruise - a pirate-inspired adventure

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After experiencing the rich history of Hakone, you can take a pirate-inspired cruise on Lake Ashi itself. The Hakone Sightseeing Cruise goes between 3 ports, Togendai port, Hakonemachi port and Motohakone port. Visitors can experience the beauty of Lake Ashi and also see famous tourist attractions from a new perspective. Getting on the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise is included in Hakone Free Pass.

Hakone Pirates Sightseeing Cruise (Togendai Port)

Address: 164 MotoHakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Opening Hours: 10am onwards. Cruise takes place every half an hour of operation till 4pm (in winter season) or 5pm (in summer season)

Access: It is at Togendai bus stop, which is a 35-minute bus ride from Hakone Yumoto station of Odakyu Line

Price: It is free if you purchase “Hakone Free pass”, or 360 JPY (3.50 USD) to 1,000 JPY (9.70 USD) for one way depending on itinerary.

Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

7. Hakone Ropeway - stroll through the sky

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If you prefer a bird’s eye view, hop on the Hakone Ropeway. The ropeway links Sounzan Station to Togendai Station, and offers views of Lake Ashi, Owakudani and Mount Fuji on a clear day. Its fee is included in the Hakone Free Pass if you purchase it at the Odakyu line station kiosk.

Hakone Ropeway

Address: (Togendai Station) 164 Moto-Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: Free with purchase of “Hakone Pass” or anywhere from 730 JPY (7.10 USD) to 1,880 JPY (18.20 USD) depending on the distance travelled.

Opening Hours: 9am-4pm

Access: It is at Togendai Station, which is a 35-minute bus ride from Odakyu Hakone Yumoto Station

Contact: +81-0465-32-2205 (weekdays) +81-0460-84-8439 (weekends)

Hakone Ropeway

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8. Ashinoko Skyline Driving Course

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The Hakone Ropeway isn’t the only attraction that offers a high-angle view; visitors with an international licence can rent a car and experience Hakone from the Ashinoko Skyline Driving Course. An arguably less-featured tourist attraction, the driving course really highlights Hakone’s four seasons.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

9. Hakone Open-Air Museum

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Hakone is not only known for its beautiful scenery and rich history, but also for the variety of museums it hosts. Take a breath of fresh air as you walk around the Hakone Open-Air Museum, featuring larger-than-life contemporary art nestled within the 70,000 square meter green garden. The museum also houses works by Picasso and Henry Moore.

Hakone Open-Air Museum

Address: 1121 Ninotaira, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: 1,600 JPY (15.50 USD) (general admission)

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm.

Access: 2-minute walk from Chokoku-no-Mori Station, 5-minute walk from Ninotaira Iriguchi bus stop

Contact: +81 460-82-1161

Hakone Open-Air Museum

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10. Glass Forest

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The Glass Forest is home of the Venetian Glass Museum and Venetian Modern Glass Museum, where visitors can view more than 100 pieces of Venetian glassware. The whimsical garden, featuring glass work, and Experience Studio are also not to be missed.

Glass Forest

Address: 940-48 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: 1,500 JPY (14.50 USD) (general admission)

Opening Hours: 9am - 5:30pm. Closed on public holidays.

Access: 1-minute walk from Hyoseki/Hakone Glass no Mori Mae bus stop

Contact: +81 460-86-3111

Venetian Glass Museum

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11. Museum of the Little Prince

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Children and adults alike will be astounded as the beloved storybook world of The Little Prince comes alive at the Museum of the Little Prince. Complete with French-style buildings and a European garden, the museum explores the work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his popular novella.

Museum of the Little Prince

Address: 909 Sengokuhara Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: 1,600 JPY (15.50 USD) (general admission)

Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm.

Access: 2-minute walk from Kawamukai bus stop

Contact: +81 460-86-3700

Museum of the Little Prince

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12. Meet Billy the seal at Hakone Aquarium!

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The Hakone-en Aquarium is most famous for its seals and their crazy acts. Watch Billy the seal and his friends pretend to be bathers in an onsen or chill out in full tourist attire in a specially dedicated area. The aquarium also features 450 species of fish gathered from around the world. After enjoying yourself at the aquarium, you can check out the rest of the Hakone-en area, which offers various shopping and dining options.

Hakone-en Aquarium

Address: 139 Moto-Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-prefecture

Price: 1,500 JPY (14.50 USD) (general admission)

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm. Closed on public holidays.

Access: 1-minute walk from Hakone-en bus stop

Contact: +81 460-83-1151

Hakone-en Aquarium

See our full list of recommended Hotels in hakone and also compare the prices with airbnbs in hakone

Not just an onsen town

Hakone is great for dipping into an onsen, but it also features amazing nature, fascinating history and a variety of modern museums. Next time you go to Hakone, be sure to check out all the other great attractions that this onsen town has to offer!

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Fifth-generation Japanese-American adventuring around Japan. Born in Hawaii and based in Tokyo, Melynie is a recent graduate of Waseda University. Likes cute coffee shops, handicrafts and...Read more

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