20 Things To Do In Hakone

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Hakone is a serene mountainous town with stunning views across Lake Ashinoko looking out towards the beautiful Mount Fuji. Around an hour and a half train ride from Tokyo, it’s an excellent destination for a weekend trip from the capital city. Hakone not only provides ample opportunities for outdoor pursuits and enjoying nature but there’s also traditional Onsen (hot springs), temples, museums and plenty of delicious food to try. So, check out these things to do in Hakone before you start planning your next trip to Japan.

Hakone, Japan

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20 Things To Do In Hakone

1- Explore The Owakudani Volcanic Zone

Owakudani Valley
Exploring the Owakudani Volcanic Zone is one of the things to do in Hakone in march.

Owakudani is an area around a crater on Mount Hakone that was formed around 3,000 years ago.

Today, when you visit the area much of it is still an active volcanic zone with sulfurous fumes, hot springs and even hot streams.

On a good clear day, you can see right across towards Mount Fuji.

Explore the area along the walking trails is a treat and a short walk takes around 30 minutes, along which you will see bubbling pools and steam vents.

For a more vigorous hike you can take the trail from the ropeway station to the peak of Mount Kamiyama and onto Mount Komagatake.


Keep in mind that these trails do close with little notice when there is potential volcanic activity expected.

Owakudani Volcanic Zone is at Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631.

2- Ride the Hakone Ropeway

Riding the Hakone Ropeway (or gondola) is one of the best things to do in Hakone.

This ropeway connects Sounzan and Togendai to Owakudani.

The terminus station is at Sounzan Station, and it heads to Togendai Station on the shores of Lake Ashinoko.

If you purchase the Hakone Free Pass, then you will be able to ride the ropeway for free.

Each gondola fits around 10 people and to travel the full ropeway it takes around 30 minutes.

From the gondola you will see active, sulfuric hot springs as well as Lake Ashinoko, Mount Fuji and the Owakudani Valley.

The Hakone Ropeway is at Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa.

3- Soak In A Traditional Onsen (Hot Spring)

Onsen , Hot Spring
Soaking in a traditional Onsen (Hot Spring) is one of the classic things to do in Hakone-machi.

Onsen can be found across Japan and Hakone is no exception, so if you are searching for a traditional and relaxing experience in Hakone, then visiting an Onsen is a must.

Hakone has been one of the most popular hot spring resorts in Japan for centuries.

There are more than 12 springs that provide hot water to the bathhouses and ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) in Hakone.

Yumoto is Hakone’s most famous hot spring with a long history, high quality water and there are several bathhouses and inns to stay at.

You can visit a ryokan for their hot spring even if you are not staying there.

Yumoto is in Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0311.

4- Take A Cruise Of Lake Ashi

Ship Trip In Ashi, Lake, Japan
Cruising on Lake Ashi is one of the relaxing things to do in Hakone Japan.

Lake Ashi is a beautifully picturesque lake that’s also known as Lake Ashinoko and owing to the volcanic activity in the region, it’s no surprise that it’s a crater lake.

Taking a boat cruise is a wonderful way to experience Lake Ashi and get a peek at Mount Fuji from a different perspective.

Head to the port at Sekisho-ato or Moto-Hakone and you will be able to take a boat tour of the lake.

One of the cruise boats has three decks and from the top deck you can enjoy 360-degree views.

You can also see the famous red gate shrine (Hakone Shrine) on the banks of the lake.

Sekisho-ato Port is at 10 Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0521.

5- Spend The Night At A Ryokan

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese Inn that usually feature the tatami-matted rooms and often have a communal area which sometimes includes an Onsen.

When visiting Japan, you can spend the night in a traditional inn for an authentic experience but if you want to stay in an inn with a hot spring as well, be sure to search for Onsen-Ryokan.

In Hakone there are plenty of ryokan to choose from.

It simply depends on your budget and your priorities as to which one you choose.

Owing to the town’s proximity to Mount Fuji some ryokans have incredible views of the famous volcano.

6- Explore Odawara Castle

Odawara Castle And Night Sakura
Explore Odawara Castle best things to do in Hakone.

If you were asked to conjure up an image of a Japanese castle, Odawara would be an ideal image of what you would draw.

This castle dates to the mid 15th century.

The castle soon fell into the hands of the Hojo Clan who were one of the powerful at the time.

In 1703 the castle was destroyed by an earthquake.

Though it was rebuilt in 1870 the castle was dismantled and sold.

In 1960 based on drawings from the Edo Period, Odawara Castle was rebuilt.

Though today you will be visiting a replica it still emits the same charm and character of any Japanese fairytale castle.

The castle grounds are a super popular place to visit during cherry blossom season (early April to late April) as pink trees flank the river and surround the castle.

Odawara Castle is at Jonai, Odawara, Kanagawa 250-0014. Join this guided Ninja and Samurai your of Odawara Castle.

7- Observe Art In Nature At Hakone Open Air Museum

If you love art and the outdoors, then be sure to check out the Hakone Open Air Museum.

This museum is more like a sculpture garden including paintings.

In true Japanese style all the pieces in the museum’s collection have been well thought through.

They are placed in harmonic balance with nature and the other sculptures.

The Hakone Open Air Museum has spaces both indoors and outdoors.

There’s a fantastic section called The Picasso Exhibition Hall which showcases Picasso’s work alongside photos and details about the artist himself.

The sculptures at the museum have been created by international and Japanese arts.

Hakone Open Air Museum is at 1121 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407.

8- Walk Along Old Tokaido Road Ancient Cedar Avenue

Cedar Avenue is a 500 meter stretch from Motohakone to Onshi-Hakone Park.

Of course, as the name suggests this pathway is surrounded by flourishing cedar trees.

It is believed that the trees were planted around 1618 during the Edo period (1603-1868).

The towering trees provided protection to those traveling along Hakone’s mountainous roads.

Today around 400 cedar trees remain on the avenue.

You can walk right along the avenue enjoying the scenery.

The Old Tokaido Road extends for 17km (10.5 miles), including the section of Cedar Avenue, which makes for a wonderful, sheltered hiking spot.

The east end of Old Tokaido Road Ancient Cedar Avenue is at Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0521.

9- Learn More About Japanese History At Hakone Checkpoint

Hakone Checkpoint
Learn More About Japanese History at Hakone Checkpoint things to do in Hakone.

The Hakone Checkpoint used to be the inspection facility of the area during the Edo Period.

Owing to its proximity to Tokyo (formerly Edo), Hakone was an ideal place to make sure nothing untoward was happening.

During that time there were around 50 checkpoints across Japan but all of them were abandoned by the end of the Edo Period.

In 2007, using traditional techniques and tools the checkpoint was restored.

One of the best things to do at the checkpoint is to climb to toomi bansho which was the cabin used for guarding the facility.

From there you can see Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi.

Hakone Checkpoint is at 1番地 Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0521.

10- Ride The Hakone Tozan Railway

Hakone Tozan Railway is Japan’s oldest mountain railway! Even if you don’t consider yourself a railway enthusiast this is a super fun activity to do when visiting Hakone.

The small trains head through tunnels, over bridges and through dense wooded valleys.

There are two sections of the Hakone Tozan Line.

The lower section is from Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto.

This section isn’t all that special.

However, take a ride on the upper section that runs from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora, and you will surely be impressed.

The train ride between these two stations is 35 minutes and is particularly beautiful in June and July when the hydrangeas are in bloom.

During this time, you may need to book your train ride in advance because it’s a popular time to visit.

Hakone-Yumoto Station is at Yumoto, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0311. Join a tour of Hakone to discover its secrets.

11- Seek Spirituality And Tranquility At Hakone Shrine

Hakone Shrinto Shrine
Seek Spirituality and Tranquility at Hakone Shrine things to do in Hakone summer.

Hakone Shrine is the most famous in this town.

The shrine sits at the foot of Mount Hakone on the shores of Lake Ashinoko.

The red torii gates (most popularized to travelers in Kyoto) are synonymous with Japan.

Hakone Shrine’s torii gate is particularly stunning as it sits right on Lake Ashinoko.

If you take the cruise, you will be able to get a great photo (on a clear day) of Hakone Shrine’s torii gate, the lake and Mount Fuji in the background.

The main shrine building is set in the forest.

The surrounding trees give the site its own sense of peace.

Hakone Shrine is at 80-1 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0522.

12- Get Some Advice At Choanji Temple

Choanji Temple is part of the school of Zen Buddhism.

The temple dates to 1356.

This temple is a tranquil and picturesque place to visit.

There are walking trails that lead around the temple and grounds, ideal for a summer’s day.

Another excellent time of year to visit this temple is autumn, especially around mid-November when the trees burst into color.

One of the most notable things to see at Choanji Temple are the more than 200 statues of Buddha’s disciples (known as rakan).

These statues are scattered around the grounds, and they have been randomly cropping up since the 1980s.

Some of the statues are funny, some of their faces are contemplative and others are serious.

Choanji Temple is at 82 Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631.

13- Check Out The Venetian Glass Museum

This museum is the first museum in the country dedicated to Venetian glass.

The museum displays Venetian glass works from as early as the 15th century right up to modern day.

The collection features more than 100 pieces including sculptures, lamps, goblets, and vases.

This is an interesting place to visit not only because of the large collection of glass work but also because of the Venetian style garden and its surrounding mountainous views.

After you’ve wandered around the museum you can take a break in their café restaurant.

If you are particularly interested in the process of glass making, then you can even take a class here.

Venetian Glass Museum is at 940-48 Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631.

14- Discover The Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Fields

Japan is full of inspiring vistas that evoke a strong sense of peace and relaxation.

The Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Fields are no exception.

On the western side of Mount Hakone there are expansive rolling fields of pampas grass (also known as Susuki).

For hundreds of meters these tall grasses cover the hillside.

During autumn the fields are a popular place to visit as the grasses turn an attractive golden color.

Just be warned if you visit in spring the place might not look that attractive as these fields go through the process of controlled burning to prevent other plants from growing and to promote regrowth of the pampas.

The Sengokuhara Susuki Grass Fields are at Sengokuhara, 箱根町 Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631.

15- Enjoy Views Of Mount Fuji From The Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge

Fuji Mountain Lake Hakone Sunrise
Enjoy Views of Mount Fuji from the Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge top things to do in Hakone.

After first clapping eyes on Mount Fuji, you will quickly become obsessed with seeing Mount Fuji wherever you can (it’s such an iconic and impressive volcano).

If that’s the case, then you don’t want to miss taking a trip to the Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge.

The suspension bridge is 400m (1312 ft) in length and is Japan’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge.

For the best chance of clear photos, it’s good to visit in the morning or late afternoon/evening.

During the summer, visit around 9am for pleasant temperatures and a better chance of taking crisp photos of Mount Fuji.

Between October and February, the suspension bridge is an excellent place for sunset.

In the same area there is also the Forest Adventure Park.

Here you can ride the long zip slide which is 70m (229ft) above the ground and 300m (984ft) in length (all offering views of Mount Fuji).

Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge is at 313 Sasahara Shinden, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-0012.

16- Try A Bowl Of Hakone Soba

Try a Bowl of Hakone Soba things to do in Hakone yumoto.

Many people visit Japan just as culinary tourists.

When you start to sample true, authentic Japanese food you can easily see why.

When visiting the town, you must try Hakone soba.

Soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour.

They are around the same thickness as spaghetti and can be found across Japan.

Many people will attest to Hakone soba being the most famous and best of all the soba noodles.

This take on soba emerged in 1965 with its precise location remaining a bit of a mystery.

Today there are many places to eat soba in Hakone.

The dish can be served hot or cold.

In Hakone the soba is traditionally served with freshly grown yam, and a side of mountain vegetables.

17- Feel At Peace At The Hakone Botanical Garden Of Wetlands

Japanese Garden
Feel at Peace at the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands things to do in Hakone with kids.

This botanical garden is situated in the highlands of Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.

Founded in 1976 the park aims to preserve and showcase more than 1,700 varieties of alpine and marsh plants all of which are native to Japan.

As you explore the wetlands you will stroll along boardwalks.

Throughout the park there are signs in both Japanese and English detailing the plant species you can see.

One of the most popular times of year to visit the park is when nikko kisuge (daylily) are in full bloom.

You won’t be able to visit the park in winter due to the snowy mountainous weather conditions.

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands is at 817 Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631.

18- Visit The POLA Museum Of Art

Another of the best museums in Hakone is the POLA Museum of Art.

POLA is a Japanese skincare and beauty brand.

It’s not often that a beauty brand also has a museum, but POLA opened the museum of art in 2002 to display the private art collection of Suzuki Tsuneshi.

The museum is surrounded by a forest of old beech trees, creating the perfect shield from the outside world making for a serene space.

The museum embodies the ethos of not disrupting the natural environment and therefore many of the buildings are underground.

While at the museum you can see several modern and contemporary paintings, glassware, sculptures, and ceramics.

Most of the pieces are by Japanese artists but there are a few from European artists.

Some artists’ work you can see in the permanent collection includes Picasso, Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne.

POLA Museum of Art is at Japan, 〒250-0631 Kanagawa, Ashigarashimo District, Hakone, Sengokuhara.

19- Wander Around Hakone Gora Park

For something a little different to traditional Japanese culture head to Hakone Gora Park.

This western style park is inspired by French landscape design.

It is a relaxing place to take a stroll and appreciate the scenery.

Many intertwining pathways loops across the park which allows you to wander past fountains, rose gardens, greenhouses, and a tropical botanical garden.

At the park there is also the Hakuun-do Chaen teahouse where you can sip on traditional Japanese tea.

If you fancy getting creative check out the Crafthouse where you can learn how to blow glass, try glass etching, pottery and even dried flower arranging.

Hakone Gora Park is at 1300 Gora, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0408.

20- Hike To Chisuji Falls

From Kowakudani Station in Hakone it takes around 20 minutes to walk to Chisuji Falls.

This is the perfect easy and quick hike if you want to step into local nature.

It is also a wonderful hike if you are traveling with children.

Visit the waterfall in autumn for beautiful fall foliage or in July when fireflies bring a certain element of magic to the surrounding woodland.

Chisuji Falls is at 507 Kowakudani, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0406.

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Harriet Comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!