8 Things To Do In Hakone Japan – Don’t Miss These!

kuro tamago

Konnichiwa! Hakone, nestled in the shadow of Mount Fuji, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern relaxation. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, this charming town has something to offer for everyone. Join us as we explore the top activities and attractions in Hakone.

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1. Soak in an Onsen with a View

hakone onsen
Relax in a Hakone onsen hot spring bath

Hakone is renowned for its hot springs, or “onsen,” and there’s no better way to unwind than by taking a dip in one. Onsen experiences are a must when in Japan. Gazing at the stunning vistas of Mount Fuji while relaxing in the soothing waters is an unforgettable experience. Some top onsen spots include Hakone Yuryo and Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, where you can even enjoy wine or coffee baths!

If you want a bit more privacy, check my top picks for Ryokans (Japanese hotel) with a private onsen.


2. Explore the Hakone Open-Air Museum

For a dose of art and culture, visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum. This unique museum showcases a vast collection of sculptures from various artists in a beautifully landscaped garden. Kids will love the interactive art installations, making this a family-friendly stop.

Spanning over 70,000 square meters of lush landscape, this open-air museum boasts an extensive collection of contemporary sculptures, including works by renowned artists such as Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and Barbara Hepworth. Visitors can meander through beautifully curated gardens, where sculptures harmonize with the natural surroundings, creating a serene and immersive artistic experience. One of the museum’s highlights is the symphonic harmony between art and landscape, where visitors are encouraged to interact with the artwork, fostering a deeper connection to the creative process.

3. Hakone Shrine and Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi
View of Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji with Hakone Shrine

A visit to Hakone wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Hakone Shrine and Lake Ashi. The iconic red torii gate standing in the lake is an Instagram-worthy sight. You can take a scenic boat ride on Lake Ashi to fully appreciate the beauty of the area, including views of Mt. Fuji. It’s a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in Japan’s spiritual and natural heritage.

The Hakone Lake Ashi Pirate Ship offers a unique and exhilarating way to experience the stunning beauty of Lake Ashi and its surrounding landscape in Hakone, Japan. Inspired by traditional pirate ships, these charming vessels evoke a sense of adventure and romance as they cruise across the tranquil waters of the lake.

4. Hakone Ropeway and Owakudani

Hakone ropeway
Hakone Ropeway with Mt. Fuji in the background

For adventure seekers, the Hakone Ropeway offers breathtaking views as it takes you over lush valleys and volcanic landscapes. At Owakudani, you can witness volcanic activity up close and even savor local specialty “kuro tamago”.

What are kuro tamago? A “kuro tamago,” translated as “black egg” in English is a type of boiled egg that is traditionally cooked in the hot springs (onsen) of Hakone, Japan. These eggs are typically boiled in the naturally occurring sulfuric hot springs, which gives their shells a blackened appearance. The process is said to turn the eggshell black and also infuse the egg with a unique flavor. The eggs are often enjoyed as a popular snack or souvenir by visitors to the region. They are believed to add seven years to one’s life for every egg consumed, according to local legend.

kuro tamago
Kuro Tamago in Hakone

5. Hakone Sekisho Museum (Hakone Barrier)

Hakone Barrier
Hakone Sekisho (Hakone Barrier) from the Edo Period

Step back in time at the Hakone Sekisho museum, which replicates a historical checkpoint from the Edo period. Learn about Japan’s fascinating past and imagine what it was like to travel through Hakone in centuries gone by.

The Hakone Checkpoint, or “Sekisho,” played a vital role in controlling travel along the historic Tokaido road. Situated in Hakone, Japan, this meticulously reconstructed museum faithfully depicts the atmosphere and operations of the original checkpoint, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the rigorous security measures and vibrant cultural exchange that occurred at this strategic location. From detailed exhibits showcasing the daily lives of checkpoint officials to interactive displays demonstrating the intricate methods of inspection and surveillance, the museum provides a comprehensive understanding of the checkpoint’s significance in maintaining order and facilitating trade during Japan’s feudal era.

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6. Hakone Gora Park

Hakone Gora Park
Fountain at Hakone Gora Park

Stroll through the picturesque Hakone Gora Park, known for its beautiful French-style gardens. It’s a serene oasis where you can enjoy a leisurely walk or even have a picnic with your family.

This meticulously manicured park, established in 1914, exudes an atmosphere of timeless elegance, offering visitors a serene escape from the bustling urban landscape. Strolling along its winding pathways, visitors are greeted by a stunning array of seasonal flora, including vibrant cherry blossoms in spring and fiery maples in autumn, creating a kaleidoscope of color and fragrance throughout the year. The park’s centerpiece is its picturesque French-style garden, featuring ornate flower beds, tranquil ponds, and elegant sculptures, reminiscent of a European countryside retreat. Additionally, the park boasts a charming tea house where guests can savor traditional Japanese tea and sweets while admiring the scenic vistas of Mount Fuji and the surrounding countryside.

7. Hakone Ekiden

If you happen to visit Hakone in January during New Year’s, don’t miss the Hakone Ekiden, one of Japan’s most prestigious and exciting relay marathons. This event features university teams competing in a two-day, long-distance race from Tokyo to Hakone and back. The streets come alive with cheering spectators, and you can witness the dedication and spirit of young athletes firsthand.

8. Shop for Yosegi Zaiku

yosegi zaiku
Yosegi Zaiku

Don’t leave Hakone without a souvernir and Yosegi Zaiku is one to keep and cherish. Many varieties of this woodwork can be found all across Hakone.

Hakone Yosegi-Zaiku is a traditional woodworking craft originating from the Hakone region of Japan, renowned for its intricate patterns and exquisite craftsmanship. This ancient art form involves the meticulous assembly of small, specially cut pieces of various types of wood to create geometric designs and tessellations. Master artisans use traditional techniques passed down through generations to craft a wide range of items, including puzzle boxes, trays, and decorative pieces. The process begins with the careful selection of different woods, each chosen for its unique grain and color. These pieces are then painstakingly cut, shaped, and fitted together to form intricate patterns, often without the use of adhesives or nails. The finished products of Hakone Yosegi-Zaiku are not only visually stunning but also showcase the skill, precision, and dedication of the craftsmen who continue to preserve and enrich this cherished tradition.

Summing It Up

Hakone, Japan, is a delightful blend of relaxation, culture, natural wonders, and the thrill of the Hakone Ekiden. Whether you’re unwinding in an onsen, exploring art and history, cheering on marathon runners, or savoring local treats, Hakone offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler. So, pack your bags and immerse yourself in the beauty of Hakone – it’s a journey you won’t soon forget. Safe travels!