Introduction

Welcome to Hakone, a picturesque town nestled in the mountains of Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture. Known for its stunning natural beauty, hot springs, and rich cultural heritage, Hakone attracts visitors from around the world. With a variety of attractions and activities to explore, a well-planned itinerary is essential to make the most of your time in this enchanting destination.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the bustling city life, Hakone has something for everyone. From scenic hiking trails and breathtaking views of Mount Fuji to traditional hot spring baths and historic shrines, this town offers a harmonious blend of relaxation and adventure.

In this comprehensive itinerary, we will guide you through a 10-day journey to Hakone, taking you to the must-visit attractions and hidden gems that make this region so captivating. This itinerary has been carefully curated to offer a well-rounded experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty, culture, and tranquility of Hakone.

Before diving into the daily activities, it’s important to note the best time to visit Hakone. The town experiences four distinct seasons, each with its own charm. Spring (March to May) brings cherry blossoms in full bloom, creating a picturesque landscape. Summer (June to August) offers warmer temperatures and an abundance of outdoor activities. Fall (September to November) showcases vibrant foliage and a pleasant temperature for hiking. Winter (December to February) blankets the region in snow, creating a magical winter wonderland.

Now, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we guide you through the best of Hakone. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes, a camera to capture the stunning scenery, and an open mind to fully immerse yourself in the rich culture and natural wonders of this remarkable destination.

 

Getting to Hakone

Before beginning your Hakone adventure, you’ll need to know how to get there. Located just 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, Hakone is easily accessible from the capital city and other major Japanese cities. Here are the most convenient transportation options:

  • By Train: The most popular way to reach Hakone is by taking the train. From Tokyo, you can hop on the Odakyu Romancecar limited express train to Hakone Yumoto Station, the gateway to the region. The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, and the train offers scenic views of the countryside along the way. If you’re coming from Osaka or Kyoto, you can take a bullet train to Odawara Station and then transfer to a local train to Hakone Yumoto.
  • By Bus: Another convenient option is taking a direct bus from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to various points in Hakone. The bus journey takes about two hours, and it’s a great option for those who prefer a more direct route.
  • By Car: If you prefer to drive, Hakone is easily accessible via the Tomei Expressway or the Chuo Expressway. There are several parking lots available throughout the region, making it convenient to explore Hakone at your own pace.

Once you arrive at Hakone Yumoto Station, you can start your exploration of the region. Hakone is well-connected by an efficient transportation system that includes buses, trains, and cable cars. The Hakone Free Pass is a highly recommended purchase, as it offers unlimited access to the various modes of transportation in the area.

Now that you know how to reach Hakone, it’s time to dive into the exciting itinerary we have prepared for you. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Hakone as we take you through the must-see attractions and experiences that await you in this captivating destination.

 

Day 1: Exploring Hakone Yumoto

Welcome to Hakone Yumoto, the gateway to the magnificent Hakone region. On your first day, take the time to explore this charming town and discover its unique blend of natural beauty, traditional culture, and modern amenities.

Start your day by exploring the bustling streets of Hakone Yumoto. Stroll along the charming Tamamura Street, lined with shops selling local crafts, souvenirs, and specialty foods. Indulge in some traditional Japanese snacks like yuba (tofu skin) or try the local specialty, black eggs, which are hard-boiled in the natural hot springs and said to add years to your life.

Next, visit the Hakone Yumoto Museum to gain insight into the town’s history and culture. The museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that depict the development of Hakone Yumoto as a popular hot spring resort. Learn about the healing properties of the natural hot springs and their importance in Japanese culture.

Afterward, take a relaxing dip in one of the many hot springs in Hakone Yumoto. The town is known for its therapeutic waters, which are believed to have healing properties for various ailments. Choose from a variety of traditional hot spring baths and indulge in a rejuvenating soak as you take in the serene mountain views.

In the afternoon, visit the Hakone Yumoto Geothermal Museum to explore the geological wonders of the region. Learn about the volcanic activity that shaped Hakone and witness the power of nature through interactive exhibits and multimedia displays.

As the day draws to a close, head to Hakone Yumoto Station to catch a scenic train ride on the Hakone Tozan Railway. This mountain railway offers stunning panoramic views as it winds its way through the Hakone mountains and forests. Sit back, relax, and let the picturesque landscapes unfold before your eyes.

End your day with a delicious meal at one of the local restaurants in Hakone Yumoto. Indulge in a traditional kaiseki meal, featuring an exquisite multi-course menu showcasing the freshest local ingredients.

After a day filled with exploration and relaxation, retreat to your accommodation in Hakone Yumoto for a well-deserved rest. Tomorrow, we’ll embark on another exciting day of discovery in the Hakone region.

 

Day 2: Discovering Lake Ashi

Get ready to explore the stunning beauty of Lake Ashi, one of Hakone’s most iconic landmarks. Surrounded by lush greenery and boasting breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi offers a tranquil and awe-inspiring experience.

Start your day with a scenic boat ride across Lake Ashi. Board one of the elegant pirate-themed Hakone Sightseeing Boats and enjoy a leisurely cruise along the calm waters. As you sail, marvel at the majestic scenery of the lake, with its crystal-clear water reflecting the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of the iconic Mount Fuji in the distance, creating a picture-perfect postcard view.

Disembark at Moto-Hakone, a charming lakeside town, and explore the area on foot. Visit the Hakone Checkpoint, a historical site that once served as a gateway between Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo period. Immerse yourself in the rich history as you walk through the preserved buildings and learn about the samurai era and its significance in Japanese culture.

From Moto-Hakone, take the Hakone Ropeway up to Owakudani. This breathtaking cable car ride offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and Lake Ashi below. Arriving at Owakudani, you’ll witness a dramatic volcanic landscape, with sulfurous fumes rising from the active volcanic vents. Take a stroll along the wooden walkways and enjoy the stunning views while savoring the aroma of black eggs, a famous delicacy cooked in the hot springs and believed to add seven years to your life.

After exploring Owakudani, take the Hakone Ropeway back down to Togendai. From there, you can catch a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi once again, enjoying a different perspective of the surrounding scenery.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider hiking one of the scenic trails around Lake Ashi. The Hakone Sekisho Trail offers a picturesque path through the forests and offers glimpses of the lake along the way. Alternatively, you can opt to take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore, taking in the peaceful atmosphere and serenity of the surroundings.

As the day comes to an end, head back to your accommodation and unwind with a soak in a traditional hot spring bath. Reflect on the beauty and tranquility you experienced throughout the day as you prepare for another exciting day of exploration in Hakone.

 

Day 3: Visiting Owakudani Valley

On day three, get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure as you explore the captivating Owakudani Valley. This volcanic valley is known for its dramatic landscape, sulfurous hot springs, and stunning natural beauty.

Start your day with a hearty breakfast and make your way to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car. Enjoy a scenic ride up the mountainside, taking in the panoramic views of the surrounding lush forests and picturesque villages.

Once you reach Sounzan Station, transfer to the Hakone Ropeway and ascend to Owakudani. As you soar above the treetops, marvel at the breathtaking views of the Hakone mountains and Lake Ashi.

Upon arrival at Owakudani, you’ll be greeted by the sight of billowing clouds of steam and the distinct smell of sulfur. This area is renowned for its active volcanic activity, and you can witness the geothermal wonders up close.

Take a leisurely walk along the wooden boardwalks that wind through the valley, offering panoramic views of the steaming vents and bubbling hot springs. Be sure to snap some photos of the unique landscape and the iconic volcanic activities.

While exploring Owakudani, make sure to try the local delicacy: black eggs. These eggs are cooked in the natural hot springs and turn black due to a chemical reaction with the sulfur-rich water. Legend has it that eating one of these eggs adds seven years to your life!

After satisfying your gastronomical curiosity, head to the Owakudani Visitor Center, where you can learn about the geological significance of the area. Discover the history and science behind the volcanic activity in Owakudani through interactive exhibits and informative displays.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider hiking one of the scenic trails that surround Owakudani. The trails offer breathtaking views of the valley and allow you to immerse yourself in the serene beauty of nature.

After a day of exploration, return to your accommodation and relax in the hot springs to rejuvenate your body and mind. Reflect on the magnificence of Owakudani and the natural wonders you encountered as you prepare for another exciting day in Hakone.

 

Day 4: Relaxing at Hot Springs

It’s time to indulge in pure relaxation and rejuvenation on day four of your Hakone itinerary. Today is all about immersing yourself in the therapeutic hot springs that Hakone is renowned for.

Start your day by visiting one of the traditional hot spring resorts in Hakone. These resorts offer a serene and tranquil atmosphere, perfect for unwinding and escaping the stresses of everyday life. Choose from a variety of onsen options, ranging from public baths to private open-air baths that offer stunning views of the surrounding nature.

Take your time to soak in the soothing hot mineral-rich waters and feel the stress melt away. The heat of the springs is believed to have healing properties for various ailments and promotes relaxation and well-being.

After your refreshing hot spring experience, explore the charming town surrounding the onsen resort. Take a leisurely stroll through the quaint streets, lined with shops selling local crafts, souvenirs, and delicious snacks.

If you’re interested in learning more about the art of hot spring bathing, visit the Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall. This museum provides a fascinating insight into the history and cultural significance of hot springs in Japan. Discover the traditions, rituals, and etiquette associated with onsen bathing.

In the afternoon, pamper yourself with a traditional Japanese spa treatment. Experience the bliss of a relaxing massage, body scrub, or facial using natural and organic Japanese ingredients. Allow the skilled hands of the therapists to release tension and leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

In the evening, continue your hot spring relaxation by enjoying a traditional Kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki is a multi-course meal that showcases the finest seasonal ingredients prepared with meticulous attention to detail. Savor the delicate flavors of each dish, and appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into creating this culinary masterpiece.

As the day draws to a close, return to your accommodation and soak in the hot springs one more time. Reflect on the blissful day of relaxation and rejuvenation, and prepare for more exciting adventures that await you in the remaining days of your Hakone journey.

 

Day 5: Exploring Hakone Open-Air Museum

On day five, prepare to immerse yourself in the world of art and beauty as you visit the renowned Hakone Open-Air Museum. Located amidst the picturesque nature of Hakone, this museum showcases an impressive collection of sculptures and installations, all set in a breathtaking outdoor landscape.

Begin your day by taking a scenic train ride to Chokoku-no-Mori Station, the nearest station to the Hakone Open-Air Museum. As you approach the station, you’ll be greeted by the sight of captivating sculptures and artworks displayed in the gardens surrounding the museum.

Once inside, spend your time leisurely exploring the vast outdoor galleries. Admire the diverse range of sculptures and installations, created by artists from around the world. Marvel at the seamless integration of art and nature, as the sculptures harmonize beautifully with the trees, ponds, and rolling hills of the Hakone landscape.

One of the iconic highlights of the museum is the “Symphonic Sculpture,” a rotating tower adorned with stained glass and intricate metalwork. Stand beneath and witness as it gracefully moves with the wind, creating a mesmerizing play of light and shadow.

Don’t miss the Picasso Pavilion, which houses an impressive collection of works by the legendary artist Pablo Picasso. Marvel at the masterpieces that showcase the evolution of his artistry and his innovative approach to different mediums.

As you explore the museum, take breaks to sit and appreciate the serene surroundings. The museum grounds also feature beautifully manicured gardens, inviting you to find moments of tranquility amidst the captivating art.

When hunger strikes, head to one of the museum’s cafes or restaurants to enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by art. Indulge in a fusion of flavors from both Japanese and international cuisines as you admire the stunning views of the surrounding sculptures and nature.

Before leaving the museum, make sure to visit the museum shop to browse a selection of unique artistic souvenirs and gifts. Take home a piece of the Hakone Open-Air Museum to cherish the memories of this extraordinary art-filled day.

As the day comes to an end, return to your accommodation and reflect on the beauty and inspiration you experienced at the Hakone Open-Air Museum. Tomorrow, there will be more discoveries and adventures awaiting you in the captivating Hakone region.

 

Day 6: Riding the Hakone Ropeway

Prepare for a breathtaking experience as you embark on a journey through the skies on the Hakone Ropeway on day six of your Hakone itinerary. This cable car ride offers panoramic views of the stunning Hakone region, taking you to some of the most scenic spots in the area.

Begin your day by making your way to Togendai Station, where the Hakone Ropeway starts. Hop aboard the cable car and ascend to Owakudani, a volcanic valley known for its sulfurous hot springs and mesmerizing landscapes.

As you soar above the treetops, marvel at the sweeping views of Lake Ashi and the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for Mount Fuji, which majestically stands in the distance on clear days, providing a postcard-worthy backdrop to your journey.

Arriving at Owakudani, you’ll be greeted by the sight of billowing steam and the distinct smell of sulfur. Take a leisurely stroll along the wooden boardwalks that wind through the valley, allowing you to appreciate the unique volcanic landscapes up close. Marvel at the bubbling hot springs and the active volcanic vents, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.

While exploring Owakudani, don’t miss the opportunity to try the local delicacy: black eggs. These eggs are cooked in the natural hot springs and turn black due to a chemical reaction with the sulfur-rich water. They are not only delicious but are also said to bring good luck and add years to your life.

After your time in Owakudani, continue your journey on the Hakone Ropeway to the picturesque town of Gora. Along the way, soak in the panoramic views of Hakone’s lush landscapes, including valleys, forests, and charming villages.

In Gora, explore the beautiful surroundings, known for its hot springs and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns). Take a leisurely stroll through the Hakuunso Gardens, known for its exquisite Japanese landscaping and tranquil atmosphere. Enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms in spring or the vibrant colors of the autumn foliage during the fall season.

Before leaving Gora, take a relaxing dip in one of the hot springs in the area. Unwind and rejuvenate your body in the soothing waters, letting any tension melt away.

To conclude the day, make your way back to your accommodation, reflecting on the awe-inspiring views and memorable experiences you had riding the Hakone Ropeway. Tomorrow, get ready for more adventures in the captivating Hakone region.

 

Day 7: Enjoying Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

Day seven of your Hakone itinerary is all about immersing yourself in the beauty of nature as you explore the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands. Located in the stunning wetlands of Sengokuhara, this garden offers a tranquil oasis filled with an extraordinary variety of plant life.

Start your day by making your way to the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands, taking in the refreshing scent of nature as you approach. The garden is known for its unique ecosystem, with a combination of wetlands, forested areas, and open spaces.

As you enter the garden, prepare to be captivated by the rich diversity of flora. Take leisurely strolls along the well-maintained pathways, which wind through vibrant flower beds, towering trees, and serene ponds.

Discover the beauty of Japan’s native plants, including delicate cherry blossoms in spring, vibrant azaleas in summer, and fiery maple leaves in autumn. Take your time to enjoy the vibrant colors and fragrances that surround you.

Make sure to visit the Wetland Plaza, which showcases a variety of wetland plant species from around the world. Marvel at the unique adaptations these plants have developed to thrive in waterlogged environments.

As you explore further, you’ll come across serene ponds adorned with lotus flowers and lily pads. Find a peaceful spot to sit and meditate, allowing yourself to connect with nature and find inner tranquility.

While walking through the garden, keep an eye out for various bird species that call this wetlands area their home. Spot graceful herons, colorful kingfishers, and other intriguing avian creatures as they go about their daily activities.

After immersing yourself in the beauty of the botanical garden, take a moment to relax at the garden’s café or picnic area. Savor a cup of tea or enjoy a packed lunch surrounded by nature, allowing yourself to truly embrace the serene ambiance.

Before leaving, make a stop at the garden’s gift shop to find unique souvenirs, such as potted plants, botanical-themed items, or local crafts. Take a piece of the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands with you to cherish the memories of this serene and captivating day.

As the day comes to an end, return to your accommodation, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by your time spent in nature. Tomorrow, get ready for more exciting adventures that await you in the wondrous Hakone region.

 

Day 8: Visiting Hakone Shrine

On day eight of your Hakone itinerary, immerse yourself in the spiritual and cultural heritage of the region as you visit the esteemed Hakone Shrine. Nestled on the shores of Lake Ashi, this iconic Shinto shrine offers a serene and picturesque experience.

Start your day by making your way to Moto-Hakone, a charming lakeside town. From there, you can board a sightseeing cruise that will take you across Lake Ashi to the entrance of the shrine.

As you approach the shrine, be prepared to be greeted by the famous giant torii gate standing tall in the lake, seemingly floating on water. This iconic red gate is a symbol of the spiritual significance of the shrine and marks the entrance to its sacred grounds.

Pass through the torii gate and proceed along the stone pathway that leads you deeper into the shrine complex. Take in the serene atmosphere and admire the traditional architecture of the shrine buildings.

Explore the various structures within the shrine, such as the main hall, offering a glimpse into the rituals and traditions of Shintoism. Marvel at the intricate woodwork and the beautiful details that adorn the sanctuary.

Continue your exploration by following the winding paths through the surrounding forested area. Discover smaller auxiliary shrines nestled in peaceful corners, each with its own unique charm and significance.

Take a moment to offer a prayer at the main shrine, honoring the Shinto deities and seeking blessings for your journey. Participate in the cleansing ritual by purifying your hands and mouth at the temizuya (water pavilion), a traditional custom before entering the sacred space.

After paying your respects, take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade, enjoying the panoramic views of Lake Ashi and the surrounding mountains. Find a quiet spot to sit and reflect on the serenity and beauty that surrounds you.

Before leaving, visit the shrine’s gift shop to explore a selection of local souvenirs, such as omamori (good luck charms), Shinto-inspired crafts, and amulets to carry with you on your journey.

As the day comes to a close, return to your accommodation, feeling a sense of peace and spiritual fulfillment after your visit to Hakone Shrine. Tomorrow, get ready for more fascinating discoveries as you continue your exploration of the enchanting Hakone region.

 

Day 9: Trying Traditional Ryokan Experience

On day nine of your Hakone itinerary, immerse yourself in the rich traditions and hospitality of Japan as you indulge in a traditional ryokan experience. Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns known for their elegant architecture, peaceful ambiance, and exceptional service.

Arrive at your chosen ryokan and be welcomed with warm hospitality by the friendly staff. Put on a comfortable yukata, a traditional Japanese robe, and get ready to embrace the serene atmosphere of the ryokan.

Start your experience by taking in the soothing atmosphere of the ryokan’s communal areas. Relax in the tranquil gardens, listen to the sound of trickling water in the stone fountains, or meditate in the quiet tatami rooms.

Indulge in the exquisite multi-course Kaiseki dinner, a traditional Japanese dining experience. Savor every bite of the meticulously prepared seasonal dishes, showcasing the flavors and techniques of Japanese cuisine. Let the attentive staff guide you through the meal, explaining the significance of each dish.

After dinner, unwind and immerse yourself in the soothing waters of the ryokan’s private hot spring baths. These baths are typically open for private use, allowing you to relax in complete tranquility as you soak in the therapeutic mineral-rich waters.

Before retiring to your traditional Japanese-style room, enjoy a cup of Japanese tea and a sweet treat. Sit on the tatami floor and appreciate the peacefulness of the surroundings.

End your day by experiencing the comfort of a futon bed laid out on the tatami floor. Sleep soundly in the serene ambiance, knowing that you are fully immersed in the traditional Japanese way of life.

In the morning, wake up to a traditional Japanese breakfast served in your room. Delight in the flavors of grilled fish, miso soup, rice, and an assortment of small side dishes, providing a fresh and nutritious start to the day.

After breakfast, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the ryokan’s surroundings. Explore the nearby gardens, stroll along serene pathways, or simply take in the tranquility before departing for your next adventure.

A traditional ryokan experience is a true immersion into Japanese culture and hospitality. Take this opportunity to appreciate the beauty, serenity, and thoughtful attention to detail that is the essence of a ryokan stay.

As the day comes to a close, bid farewell to the ryokan and reflect on the memorable experience you had. Tomorrow, get ready for the final day of your Hakone journey and make the most of your remaining time in this enchanting region.

 

Day 10: Departure

It’s time to say goodbye to the captivating Hakone region as you embark on your departure day. On this final day of your journey, take a moment to savor the memories you’ve made and bid farewell to the beauty and tranquility of Hakone.

Depending on your travel arrangements, take some time in the morning to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your accommodation. Reflect on the incredible adventures and experiences you’ve had during your time in Hakone.

Before leaving, take a final stroll around the grounds of your accommodation, breathing in the fresh mountain air and appreciating the serene beauty of the natural surroundings. Capture any last-minute photos to preserve the memories of your Hakone journey.

If time allows, you may want to squeeze in one last activity or visit a place you haven’t had a chance to explore. Whether it’s revisiting a favorite spot or checking out a nearby attraction, make the most of your remaining time in Hakone.

As you bid farewell to Hakone, take a moment to express gratitude for your unforgettable experiences and the hospitality you’ve received throughout your journey. Remember the warmth of the people, the awe-inspiring landscapes, and the moments of tranquility that have enriched your time here.

Arrange for transportation to the nearest train station or airport, either by bus, taxi, or private transfer, depending on your preferences and travel plans. Take one last look at the beautiful scenery as you journey through Hakone, letting the memories of this enchanting destination linger in your heart.

As you depart Hakone, carry with you the serenity, beauty, and cultural treasures you’ve experienced. Reflect on the transformative power of nature, the rich traditions of Japan, and the moments of peace and relaxation that Hakone has offered you.

As you continue your travels, remember that Hakone will always welcome you back with open arms, ready to enchant you once again with its breathtaking landscapes, therapeutic hot springs, and rich cultural heritage.

Until next time, farewell, Hakone!

 

Conclusion

As your Hakone journey comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the remarkable experiences and memories you’ve created in this enchanting region. From the serene hot springs and captivating natural landscapes to the rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality, Hakone has left an indelible impression on your heart.

Throughout your 10-day adventure, you’ve explored the charming town of Hakone Yumoto, admired the beauty of Lake Ashi, witnessed the geothermal wonders of Owakudani Valley, and immersed yourself in the tranquility of the Hakone Open-Air Museum and Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands.

You’ve soaked in the therapeutic waters of traditional hot springs, savored delicious Kaiseki meals, and experienced the serenity of a traditional ryokan stay. The Hakone Ropeway has taken you soaring above the treetops, providing breathtaking views of this picturesque region.

You’ve paid homage to the spiritual significance of Hakone Shrine and embraced the art and beauty that permeate the Hakone region. Each day has brought new discoveries, deepened connections with nature, and enriched your understanding of Japanese culture.

As you depart, carry the tranquility and serenity of Hakone within you, letting it inspire and rejuvenate you in your future adventures. Remember the incredible landscapes, the calming hot springs, and the warm smiles of the people you encountered.

Whether you’re returning home or continuing your exploration of Japan, take with you the memories of Hakone as a reminder of the beauty that exists in this world. Let the experiences you’ve had in Hakone continue to inspire a sense of wonder, appreciation for nature, and a desire to seek out new adventures.

Thank you for joining us on this 10-day journey through Hakone, embracing the beauty, culture, and tranquility of this remarkable destination. Hakone will always welcome you back, ready to share its magic once again.