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Hakone is one of the close "playgrounds" for Tokyo'ites and one of the most popular destinations for Japanese and international tourists looking for a break from Tokyo. On weekends or holidays, people from Tokyo can quickly travel to and enjoy Hakone for a day trip or an over-night stay. Newer visitors will visit and enjoy the ropeways and museums while return visitors will tend to relax at the Ryokans (Japanese Inn) and enjoy just soaking in Hot Springs and eating great food. Hakone is famous for its upper class hotels, Hot Springs and Ryokans (Japanese Inns that have Hot Springs baths), Lake Ashinoko (some people just say Lake Ashi), Hakone Shrine (Hakone Gongen) and the view of Mt. Fuji (when weather cooperates). Hakone is less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo and can be reached from Tokyo by train in around 2 hours or bus in 2 to 3 hours (depending on traffic). During the weekends and holidays the area can become quite crowded so either plan on visiting during a weekday or expect crowds.
Hakone's main industry is tourism. It really is a "playground" geared toward adults but families also can enjoy the area. Popular destination sights include the volcanically active Owakudani (an area that looks barren and "hell like" with hot steam geysers), Hakone Shrine on the shore of the Lake Ashi, and the ropeway rides "Hakone Ropeway" and "Hakone Komagatake Ropeway" where you may be able to catch a nice view of Mt. Fuji as you ride. The area also has many art museums including the Hakone Open-Air Museum, Okada Museum of Art, and Pola Museum of Art.
The Hakone area has been used by the Japanese people since ancient times. Hakone Shrine is said to have been built during the Heian period (794 - 1185) and a famous Daimyo prayed at the shrine for victory over his enemies (unfortunately he was defeated at the Battle of Ishibashiyama and the area came under control of the Houjyou Clan during the "Warring States Period", i.e. the Sengoku Period). During the Edo Period (1603 - 1868) the area was a "Post Station" on the Toukaidou Road (the main highway connecting Edo, i.e. Tokyo to Kyoto). This Post Station was a checkpoint for all travelers entering and leaving Edo. At the time, "Tokugawa Laws" were very strict and everyone was checked (especially for weapons). After the Meiji Restoration (start 1868) the Hakone area became part of Kanagawa Prefecture which includes Yokohama and Odawara.
If you are planning on spending a night plus two full days exploring around Hakone, the Hakone Free Pass (see below for more information) is the way to go. Even if you have a JR Pass, the Hokone Free Pass will save you money in the long run and make it easy to get around. If you have a JR Pass and will only be staying at a hotel in Hakone WITHOUT riding the Hakone Ropeway and or taking a Hakone Sightseeing Cruise around the lake, riding the Shinkansen to Odawara (free with your pass) and changing and paying the Hakone Tozan Railway fee would be the better method. Finally, if you won't be doing much sightseeing (Hakone Ropeway or taking a Hakone Sightseeing Cruise), will be just relaxing at your hotel and an Odakyu Bus goes directly to your hotel, the Odakyu Highway Bus may be your best option
The Hakone Free Pass is a good deal if you plan on staying 2 or 3 days in the Hakone Area. It includes the round trip from Tokyo to Hakone and unlimited use of selected trains, cablecars, ropeways, boats and buses in the Hakone area.
|Hakone Free Pass|
|2 Day Pass||3 Day Pass|
|from Shinjuku||5,140 yen||1,500 yen||5,640 yen||1,750 yen|
|from Odawara||4,000 yen||1,000 yen||4,500 yen||1,250 yen|
Hotels & Lodging
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise is a sightseeing cruise across Lake Ashi in Hakone Japan. There are currently 3 routes that cross the lake. The longest route takes approximately 30 min. The "Key" reason most people take the cruise is to get a good look or "photo" of Mt. Fuji in the background and or the Autumn colors in the fall. The ships themselves are decorated as old time Pirate ships ....see more details.
Hakone Ropeway, depending on the weather of course, Hakone Ropeway offers some great views of the Owakudani fissure, Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi and the surrounding area of Hakone. If the air is clear and there are not too many clouds, incredible views... but, if the air is hazy and or its cloudy... you won't see much. The Hakone Ropeway service operates at approximately one-minute intervals, and the 30-minute journey from Sounzan Station to....see more details.
Owakudani is a volcanic valley with ACTIVE sulfur vents and hot springs in Hakone Japan. It is a popular tourist site because of its scenic views, volcanic activity and "Black Eggs", Kuro-tamago (in Japanese: 黒卵 Kuro Tamago which means "black egg") which is....see more details.
Hakone Open Air Museum opened in 1969 the "Hakone Open-Air Museum" (in Japanese: 箱根 彫刻の森美術館) is an "Open Air" art museum in Hakone Japan. There are various different sections and exhibition spaces outdoors and indoors. The museum has a permanent display of around 120 masterpieces by famous modern and contemporary sculptors. There are five....see more details.
Hakone Okada Museum of Art is a private museum in the Hakone Area that has a collection of pieces from antiquity to the modern era. It is a recently opened museum, opened in 2013 by Gambling Resort Mogul Okada Kazuo. The main theme of the museum is it's large collection of Chinese and Japanese ceramics and sculptures (on the first two floors) which include ancient Chinese bronze, Tang and Ming porcelain and early Japanese pottery. The upper floors consist mainly....see more details.
Hakone Komagatake Ropeway is an "Aerial Lift Line" in Hakone famous for its surounding views of the Hakone Area and Mt. Fuji. The ropeway starts down near Lake Ashinoko and climbs to the top of Mt. Komagatake and was built in 1963 by Izu Hakone Railway. The Komagatake Ropeway reaches the top of Mt. Komagatake in 7 minutes by a comfortable ropeway tram car. The total length of the ropeway is 1800 meters....see more details.
Hakone Shrine is a Japanese Shinto shrine on the shores of Lake Ashi in the Hakone Area. According to shrine fable the shrine was founded in 757 during the reign of Emperor Koushou. The main shrines buildings are located off the lake and back hidden in the dense forest while one of the Torii stands famously in Lake Ashinoko (there are many pictures of this Torii, the lake and Mt. Fuji in the background). There is....see more details.
Odawara Castle has a very colorful history! Being in a Prime Location it was a target from all sides! On the location a "stronghold" was built in the late 1400's and this "stronghold" went back and forth between many clans before the Hojo Clan took control around 1495. After the Hojo took control they built the castle up into a formidable structure whereby they ruled the greater Kantou area for the next couple hundred years. Then in the late 1500's the Hojo Clan and their Odawara castle was once again the center of war when Takeda Shingen....see more details.
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