Hakone

Hakone is one of the most visited regions of the greater Tokyo and Mount Fuji area. There’s plenty to do and see and a great range of accommodations. Hakone is a fantastic location for those seeking to see Japan’s tallest mountain, Mount Fuji, or for those just looking for a tranquil escape from Tokyo.

The History

Mount Fuji and Hakone Day Tour - Mt. Komagatake, Hakone Mototsumiya shrine, Japan

During Japan’s Edo period, there were five main routes of travel, most of which linked the major cities of Edo and Kyoto. Of these five, the most famous was (and still is today) the Tōkaidō road that journeys along Honshū’s east coast. Along this route, there were 53 different rest stations and several checkpoints where travelers had to present permits in order to proceed.

Hakone thus grew in size as a perfect resting spot for weary travelers, but it was also one of these strategic checkpoints as it was on the border of the Kantō region. Checkpoint officials were tasked with searching all those who came in and out of the area, primarily for guns and women, because of the strict Tokugawa laws. As the country progressed from its feudal stage, it was no longer used as a checkpoint. It continues to be used as a resting point along the Tōkaidō route, which is now accessed by high-speed Shinkansen. Nowadays, it is referred to as the Japan Golden Route and is an incredibly popular track for first-time visitors to Japan.

How To Visit Hakone

The ‘Five Lakes’ area to the north of Mount Fuji may receive most of the attention, but Hakone is actually a much closer and equally as pleasant getaway. At around 100km from downtown Tokyo, Hakone sits atop the outcrop of land that is the Izu Peninsula so it receives its fair share of visitors. While there may be plenty of train stations near the actual settlement of Hakone, most of the area’s attractions are situated around Lake Ashi, so most visitors opt to take a bus instead.

The most convenient way to visit Hakone is with a guided tour. Tourist Japan’s guided tours from Tokyo to Hakone take all the stress out of planning. We take care of your transport to and from, as well as your tour guide. Simply make a booking, and all that’s left for you to do is relax, taking in the spectacular views. Our Mount Fuji and Hakone tour from Tokyo allows you to combine your Hakone visit with an ascent up Mount Fuji. Alternatively, opt for our Hakone, Lake Ashi Cruise & Owakudani tour from Tokyo and fill your day with other beautiful landscapes in the region.

What To Do in Hakone

The principal attractions either surround the lake or take place on the lake itself. Other than the paddle boats, Hakone offers some larger boat tours. These are a spectacular way to see the sights of the region and Mount Fuji. About halfway around the lake’s perimeter is the Komagatake Ropeway, taking tourists up the mountain. Atop, guests will find a shrine and a splendid view of what lies below. The Owakudani volcanic area is also a short distance away in the mountains.

At the far side of the lake is the small village of Moto Hakone and the popular Hakone Shrine. There are also several museums, as well as some typical restaurants and gift shops. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon and get a postcard-perfect view of Mt Fuji over the lake.

Regional Activities

Beyond the natural beauty, the Hakone region is well-known for its hot springs and the surrounding resorts in the area. For hundreds of years, this area has had many springs that provide hot spring water. This is optimally used in onsens, oftentimes in Ryokans which are found throughout the area.

Situated at the entrance of Hakone, near Odawara, is the Yumoto Hot Spring. It is one of the most well-known and notable hot springs in the region. Yumoto has a lengthy history and a very high quality of water, making it ideal for the surrounding resorts. Found all along the shores of Lake Ashi, travelers and visitors can find hot springs and both public and private bathhouses.

Other activities and things to do in Hakone:

  • Enjoy time relaxing in a public or private bathhouse, Onsen experience at one of the many facilities
  • Participate in a round of golf. The area is known to have many golf courses and is an ideal choice for those who enjoy golf
  • Head out on one of the many hiking paths in the area. There are trails and hikes of all levels of difficulty, all offering natural beauty
  • Visit the Hakone Shrine, found along the shores of Lake Ashi. The Japanese Shinto Shrine is also referred to as Hakone Gongen

How Long To Spend in Hakone

Hakone can, of course, be seen in just one day from Tokyo, or from the city of Atami in Izu. However, plenty of visitors opt to spend a little longer here and it is worth considering. It won’t be the busiest few days but the evenings are when Hakone is a really special place to visit.

There is almost nothing more relaxing in Japan than visiting an onsen in the evening and watching the sunset over Mt Fuji. And, nowhere else in the country does this better than Hakone. For this experience, the Hotel Green Plaza on the north side of the lake is one of the most popular choices. That being said, plenty of other Hakone hotels offer a similarly stunning view.

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