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Hakone: 20 Things to Do, Hot Springs, Art Museums, and Hotels

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Hakone is a serene retreat near Mt. Fuji, famous for its stunning landscapes, hot springs, and art museums. From a lake cruise to scenic views from the cable car and hands-on activities, there is so much to do here. Read on to learn about 20 things to enjoy in Hakone.

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Hakone: Hot Springs, Art Museums, and Great Views

Hakone cablecar

Cable car at Hakone in the fall. Photo by Pixta.
Hakone is a captivating travel destination in western Kanagawa Prefecture offering natural beauty and cultural experiences. Accessible from Tokyo via train, this area provides an escape from the bustling capital city.

With highlights such as hot springs and traditional ryokan inns, stunning views of Mt. Fuji, and many highly-rated museums, Hakone offers something to every traveler. The 2-day or 3-day Hakone Freepass covers train transportation from Tokyo to Hakone and back (*1), as well as other local transportation means in Hakone, including the cable car and sightseeing cruise.

Continue reading to learn 20 things to do and activities to try in Hakone. These locations are enjoyable throughout the year and are ideal to visit during any season.

*1 The Hakone Freepass covers a roundtrip passenger ticket from Tokyo to Hakone but if you take the limited express train Romancecar, a separate ticket is required for a reserved seat.

Things to Do in Hakone

1. Mt. Fuji Views from Lake Ashi
2. Hakone Shrine
3. Hakone Ropeway
4. Owakudani
5. Hakone Tozan Railway
6. cu―mo Hakone

Art Museums and Historic Sites
7. Hakone Open-Air Museum
8. Pola Museum of Art
9. Hakone Venetian Glass Museum
10. Lalique Museum
11. Okada Museum of Art
12. Hakone Museum of Art
13. Narukawa Art Museum
14. Hakone Checkpoint

Hot Spring Inns and Spa Facilities
15. Soak in Hakone's Natural Hot Springs
16. Get the Traditional Inn Experience at a Hakone Ryokan
17. Hakone Yuryo Hot Springs

Hands-on Activities and Souvenirs
18. Hakone Crafthouse in Gora Park
19. Hands-on Experience at Kanzashi Woodcrafting
20. Lunch and Souvenirs at Moto-Hakone Ashinoko-chaya

1. Take in Mt. Fuji Views from Lake Ashi on a Pirate Ship Cruise

Lake Ashi

Photo by Pixta
Lake Ashi is a prominent lake in the Hakone area known for its sparkling blue waters and surrounding lush forests.

The view of Mt. Fuji from the lake is also spectacular. One of the best ways to explore the lake is to go on a boat cruise; the boats are pirate ship-themed and the cruises operate between Togendai and Moto-Hakone.

Book the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise Ticket

For a breathtaking panoramic view of the lake with Mt. Fuji in the background, visit the Narukawa Art Museum featured below.


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2. Experience the Beautiful Hakone Shrine

Hakone Shrine

Photo by Pixta
The famous Hakone Shrine is a Shinto shrine located on the shores of Lake Ashi. The shrine is known for its eye-catching red torii gate that stands in the water, attracting photographers and visitors from around the world.

After viewing the picturesque Peace Torii, visitors are also encouraged to enter the shrine area accessible just beyond the torii. Hakone Shrine is a short walk from Moto-Hakone boat pier, so this is an ideal spot to combine with a lake cruise.

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3. Take the Scenic Route on the Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Photo by Pixta
Riding the Hakone Ropeway is a popular and breathtakingly beautiful way to get around Hakone. The ropeway is around 4 kilometers in length and runs from Sounzan Station, the final stop on the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, to Togendai Station at Lake Ashi.

The gondolas on the ropeway provide riders with a stunning view of the surrounding landscape, including the volcanic crater at Owakudani, Lake Ashi, and Mt. Fuji on clear days. The ropeway is included in the Hakone Freepass discount pass as well, making it a convenient choice to get around Hakone.

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4. Explore Nature at Owakudani

Owakudani

Photo by Pixta
Owakudani is a particularly famous spot in Hakone, located where an eruption from Mt. Hakone occurred around 3,000 years ago. Today the area has a distinct sulfur aroma, and contains steam vents and hot spring pools that visitors can experience firsthand.

Kurotamago, eggs cooked in Owakudani's hot spring pools that have a black eggshell due to the geothermal energy and volcanic steam, are a popular local treat, and it is said that eating one will prolong your life by seven years! This area also contains hiking trails and fantastic views of Mt. Fuji.

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5. Get Around on the Hakone Tozan Railway

Hakone Tozan Railway

Photo by Pixta
The Hakone Tozan Railway is a charming mountain railway that runs between Hakone Yumoto and Gora stations, offering easy-to-use public transportation for travelers. To make it up the steep mountain route, the small train utilizes a switchback system.

The train route is incredibly scenic and enjoyable in every season. Between mid-June and July is hydrangea season in Hakone, and as the train passes right by these gorgeous blooms it is nicknamed the "Hydrangea Railway." This train line is a convenient and highly recommended way to get around Hakone and is included in the Hakone Freepass.

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6. Rest on Top of the Clouds at cu―mo Hakone

20 Exciting Things to Do in Hakone

Picture from Hakone Tozan Railway: Gorgeous Flower Photo Spots and New Highlights
cu―mo Hakone is a facility located on the second floor of Sounzan Station, a transfer station between the Hakone Tozan Cable Car and Hakone Ropeway.

The name "cu―mo" is a play on words for the Japanese term for cloud––kumo. The high altitude and the view from the facility will make visitors feel like they are high up in the sky.

20 Exciting Things to Do in Hakone

Picture from Hakone Tozan Railway: Gorgeous Flower Photo Spots and New Highlights

With a free-to-use footbath and terrace, souvenir shopping, and refreshments, the facility is perfect for travelers looking to relax and take advantage of all that Hakone has to offer. There is also a giant mailbox that you can send postcards from, that can be mailed domestically or overseas.

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7. See Art Among Nature at The Hakone Open-Air Museum

Hakone Open-Air Museum

Picture from Hakone Area Guide: Must-See Places, Great Views, and Travel Tips
The Hakone Open-Air Museum provides museumgoers with the perfect balance of art and the great outdoors with its outdoor and indoor exhibitions.

The spacious museum grounds feature many sculptures and art pieces that can be admired along with the gorgeous natural landscape. Stunning any time of year, the museum is especially popular in the autumn for the foliage.

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8. Immerse Yourself in Culture at the Pola Museum of Art

Hakone Pola Museum

Photo by Pixta
For travelers looking to experience fine art, The Pola Museum of Art in Hakone's Gora area is the ideal spot.

This museum is known for its impressive collection of Impressionist and Western art. Museumgoers here will find works by Monet, Renoir, and more, including contemporary pieces and artwork by Japanese artists as well. The museum is tucked away in a lush forest, allowing guests to delight in the picturesque Hakone landscape during their visit.

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9. Observe Stunning and Unique Art at the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum

20 Exciting Things to Do in Hakone

Photo by Pixta
The Hakone Venetian Glass Museum, also known as the Hakone Glass no Mori (Glass Forest), is an art museum specializing in Venetian glass, located in Hakone's Sengokuhara area.

The museum features Italian-style buildings and a large garden landscaped beautifully with glass sculptures. There is also a cafe on the perfectly manicured museum grounds where visitors can relax after experiencing the impressive and unique glass works of art here.

Book tickets to the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum

Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field

Photo by Pixta
If you visit in the fall, between late September and early November, the Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Fields is a must-experience adventure for anyone visiting this area in Hakone.

Under the sunlight and wind, the seemingly-endless fields of golden pampas grass ("susuki" in Japanese) sway endlessly, captivating photographers and visitors from around the world. The scenery here will take your breath away.

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10. Visit a Piece of France at the Lalique Museum

Lalique Museum

Photo by Pixta
The Lalique Museum is a unique art facility located in Hakone's Sengokuhara area that features numerous pieces from the famous René Lalique (1860-1945), a French artist known for his brilliant glasswork and jewelry.

Visiting this museum in Hakone is a rare chance to see intricate glass works and adornments by this famous artist. In addition to the exhibitions, there is a restaurant on the museum grounds and an original Orient Express train car on which visitors can have afternoon tea.

Official website: Lalique Museum, Hakone

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11. Thrill Your Senses at the Okada Museum of Art

Okada Museum of Art

Picture from Enjoy Beauty - A Hakone Day Trip Full Of Nature And Art
The Okada Museum of Art is known for its extensive collection of Japanese and Eastern artworks, archaeological artifacts, and other cultural assets. This museum opened in 2013 and the stunning grounds of the museum feature structures designed to blend harmoniously with the natural landscape.

There is also a Japanese garden, a foot bath, and a cafe ideal for lunch and teatime. This museum is ideal for visitors looking for a stimulating morning or afternoon of art, nature, and relaxation.

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12. Experience Japanese Pottery at the Hakone Museum of Art

Hakone Museum of Art

Photo by Pixta
The Hakone Museum of Art is a renowned museum known for its large collection of Japanese earthenware, featuring pieces from as early as the Jomon period (12,000 BCE to around the year 800 BCE) and beyond.

After viewing the artwork, be sure to take time to stroll around the grounds, as there are two gorgeous traditional gardens to explore. Be on the lookout for a moss garden, bamboo groves, and rock garden, all immaculately landscaped. There is also a teahouse on the grounds where guests can savor organic matcha and seasonal sweets.

Book tickets to the Hakone Museum of Art

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13. Revel in Japanese Art at the Narukawa Art Museum

Narukawa Art Museum

Photo by Pixta
For visitors looking to experience Japanese art, the Narukawa Art Museum, located near Lake Ashi, is the ideal choice. With over 4,000 pieces featuring contemporary Japanese paintings (nihonga), this is an excellent museum to visit to view this beautiful art.

In addition to the exhibits, there is an observatory and lounge where guests can take in a magnificent view of Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji, and a museum cafe where diners can enjoy a snack.

Book tickets to the Narukawa Art Museum

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14. Encounter Edo History at Hakone Checkpoint

Hakone Checkpoint

Photo by Pixta
Hakone Checkpoint was originally an inspection point along the Tokaido, a route that connected present-day Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period (1603-1868).

Located on the southern shore of Lake Ashi, the checkpoint has been faithfully reconstructed to appear close to its original form. There is also the Hakone Sekisho Museum here, where visitors can learn about the history of the checkpoint.

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15. Soak in Hakone's Natural Hot Springs

Hakone-Yumoto

The onsen district in Hakone-Yumoto. Photo by Pixta

Hakone is renowned for its onsen and is one of the best places to experience Japan's hot spring and bath culture.

The area near Hakone-Yumoto Station, in particular, is home to many hot spring facilities and inns where visitors can take a soak in Hakone's famous springs, and the surrounding natural scenery is lovely as well. In addition, Yunessun, a one-of-a-kind hot spring theme park located further into Hakone, is another must-visit.

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16. Get the Traditional Inn Experience at a Hakone Ryokan

ryokan

Photo by Pixta
Hakone's ryokan, or traditional Japanese inns, are very popular and are a must if you are looking to stay a night or two in Hakone. Traditional inns often feature Japanese-style rooms with a tatami floor, futon to sleep on, and access to public baths for guests to use.

The ryokan inns also offer breakfast and dinner service, which usually features traditional Japanese cuisine. At higher-end ryokan, some rooms come with a private natural hot spring bath that you can enter at your leisure.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Hakone in particular is highly recommended for an unforgettable ryokan experience. This lodging is filled with local charm and certain rooms even have private open-air baths, allowing guests to experience pure relaxation and Hakone's great outdoors.

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17. Unwind at the Spa: Hakone Yuryo

onsen

Photo by Pixta
Hakone Yuryo is a well-known day spa facility that allows travelers visiting Hakone for the day to experience Japan's hot spring culture. The facility contains many different types of natural hot spring baths, both indoors and outdoors that are public, as well as private hot spring rooms that you can reserve in advance.

With so much variety, this hot spring resort is ideal for those wanting to experience different types of onsen––from open-air baths to baths in earthenware, to even sauna facilities, Hakone Yuryo has something for everyone.

There is also a restaurant at the facility where guests can enjoy a hearty irori (hearth-cooked) Japanese meal to finish the day after soaking in the hot springs.

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18. Relax at Hakone Crafthouse in Gora Park

Hakone Gora Park

Photo by Pixta
Gora Park is a beautiful, Western-style landscaped park in Hakone.

Hakone Crafthouse is a facility within the park where visitors can relax as well as participate in activities and workshops, such as glassblowing and glass etching.

Additionally, there are two greenhouses on the park grounds, a restaurant, and a teahouse. This park is the ideal spot to spend an afternoon unwinding among the flowers and trying out a new hobby.

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19. Create Traditional Handicrafts at Kanzashi Woodcrafting

Kanzashi Woodcrafting

Picture from Hakone Day Trip - Stunning Scenery, Nature, and Souvenir Workshops
Kanzashi Woodcrafting is a facility offering workshops in creating the popular Hakone wooden mosaic handicraft.

The warm woods form an intricate, sophisticated design that is a traditional craft in Hakone. Guests here can take a class to create patterns for themselves combining pieces of wood of different colors.

Kanzashi Woodcrafting is accessible via bus; the closest station is Hatajuku.

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20. Enjoy Lunch and Souvenir Shopping at Motohakone Ashinoko-chaya

Hakone: 20 Exciting Things to Do

Ashinoko-chaya is a restaurant and souvenir shop located near the Motohakone-ko bus stop by Lake Ashi.

The restaurant is located on the second floor and offers a wide variety of dishes, including soba noodles, a Hakone specialty, and meal sets containing various types of Japanese cuisine.

At the souvenir shop on the first floor, you'll find a wide selection of Hakone crafts and memorabilia, as well as a stand offering baked treats.

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Visit Hakone!

Hakone is filled with a variety of activities and places that will satisfy and exceed the expectations of any traveler, no matter when you visit!

Part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the natural and cultural paradise of Hakone offers a delightful escape from the everyday hustle and bustle, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Japan.

Book the Hakone Freepass

Top photo by Pixta

Written by

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Jasmine O

Kyoto, Japan

An awkward Southern California native living in Osaka. Originally came to Japan on the JET Program in Hyogo Prefecture (Kansai) after studying economics in college, and decided to try to stay.

IUC 10-month program graduate. Vegan and interested in all things Japan-related. Left-handed. Very fond of Kansai.

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