Nestled in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is a picturesque town known for its beautiful scenery, relaxing hot springs and cultural attractions. Hakone is one of the most popular destinations for Tokyoites. Escape from the capital and visit ancient craters, mountains, an almost mythical lake, shrines and finally relax in the hot springs (onsen).
Whether on a day trip or staying overnight, here are a few things to do in Hakone:
1. Soak in the Hot Springs (onsen): Hakone is known for its natural hot springs, or onsen, offering relaxation amidst breathtaking natural settings. Numerous ryokan and public bathhouses provide opportunities to relax in the soothing waters while enjoying scenic mountain views.
2. Enjoy views of Mt. Fuji: Hakone's location near Mount Fuji offers stunning views of the mountain. To catch the best views, consider a ride on the Hakone Ropeway or take a cruise on Lake Ashi. On clear days, the sight of Mount Fuji is simply awe-inspiring.
3. Hakone Open-Air Museum: this open-air museum features an extensive collection of contemporary sculptures set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors can interact with the art installations and explore indoor galleries housing works by renowned artists.
4. Hakone Shrine and Torii Gate: Located by Lake Ashi, the Hakone Shrine is an iconic Shinto shrine offering a serene atmosphere and picturesque views. The red torii gate at the lake's edge makes for a memorable sight and a perfect photo opportunity.
5. Hakone Pirate Ship Cruise: Experience a unique mode of transportation by taking a cruise on the Hakone Pirate Ships across Lake Ashi. These themed ships provide an unusual way to enjoy the scenic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
6. Owakudani Geothermal Valley: Visit the volcanic landscape of Owakudani, known for its active sulfur vents and hot springs. Visitors can take a cable car ride to enjoy panoramic views and witness the steam rising from the valley.