Translated by Hilary Keyes
See Mount Fuji! Day Trip Stays, Inns And Access To Hakone
Written by Yumiko Delor
Hakone Onsen is popular with visitors around the world for its views of Mt. Fuji from hot springs. Here is information indispensable for enjoying Hakone: hot spring effects, day trip bathing spots, recommended ryokan and more.
What is Hakone Onsen?
Hakone is located in the western part of Kanagawa prefecture on the prefectural border between Kanagawa and Shizuoka, home to Mt. Fuji. Hakone Onsen, the hot spring area, was formed by the over 400,000 years of volcanic activity that Mt. Hakone has had.
In 1626, the Tokaido road (*1) was established as a highway toll road of sorts, in order to examine the people and items passing between the regions of Japan. With the development of this transportation route, many people began traveling through this way, which ultimately lead to the creation of the Hakone Onsen resort area.
After the opening of the Fujiya Hotel in 1877, a resort facility designed with non-Japanese visitors in mind, Hakone Onsen became a well-known hot spring resort among the international community as well.
The secret to the popularity of Hakone Onsen is its location. It is a luxurious spa area where you can enjoy hot springs while watching Mt. Fuji, Japan's most famous natural site, all the while remaining within a reasonable distance of Tokyo, the capital.
*1 Tokaido road: an old highway road that connected Tokyo to Kyoto via a series of stops.
The Effects of Hakone Onsen Water
Originally, Hakone Onsen was known as the Hakone Seven Springs, as there were seven hot springs in the area, but at present, there are twenty springs spread out through five areas: Hakone Yumoto/Tonosawa, Gora, Miyanoshita/Kowakudani, Sengokuhara, and Ashinoko/Ashinoyu.
In order to comprehend the differences between the varieties of hot spring waters found in Hakone Onsen at a glance, signs are placed near the hot spring explaining their qualities.
- Tanjun Onsen: Simple Hot Spring, a spring that is good for the skin, does not have a particular odor. Said to have a positive effect on those suffering from insomnia or depression.
- Ryusanen Onsen: Sulfate Hot Spring, main ingredient in this hot spring is positive ions, making it ideal for those with skin injuries, sensitivity to cold.
- Enkabutsu Onsen: Chloride Hot Spring, commonly called Netsu no Yu (hot water spring); the salt in this water clings to the skin, making it ideal for those suffering from dry skin and sensitivity to the cold.
- Iou Ensen/Sanseisen: Sulfur Saline Spring/Acidic Spring, both types of springs are said to have great sterilizing properties and are said to be particularly useful for those seeking relief from atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions.
- Tansansuisoensen: Bicarbonate Spring, called 'beautifying waters', these springs are meant to soften the keratin in skin (improving its condition) and are meant to help those with sensitivity to the cold.
- Other Springs: there are some hot springs that are quite unique, so it is better to check with the spring facility itself as to what the conditions of the water are.