Part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is a serene mountain town known for its luxurious hot spring onsen" resorts and spectacular views of Mount Fuji. There are also world-class art museums, steaming volcanoes and plenty of fresh sushi to devour.
Things to do in Hakone
Set among rolling hillsides, the Hakone Open-Air Museum is one of Japan's top cultural attractions. From 19th-century Japanese sculptures and the cavernous Picasso Pavilion to the crochet playground designed especially for kids, you can spend the whole day exploring the museum.
For a bird's-eye view of Owakudani crater, visit the Hakone Ropeway. The 30-minute gondola ride spans for four kilometres from Togendai from Soun-zan and passes right over the crater. If you want to see the "Great Boiling Valley" up close, hike the hour-long Owakudani-Togendai Nature Trail.
One of the town's most iconic landmarks is Hakone-jinja, an ancient Shinto shrine. A scenic walking trail winds its way around Ashino-ko Lake to the shrine, which is hidden under towering cedar trees. Along the way you'll get fantastic views of the iconic red "torii" gate, which is built on the shores of the lake.
No trip is complete without sipping on sweet "amazake" at a local teahouse. In Hakone, the best place to try the local beverage is Amazake-chaya, one of Japan's oldest and most authentic teahouses. It's been serving amazake for over 360 years and offers a fascinating glimpse at life in ancient Japan.
Getting around Hakone
Hakone is around 80 kilometres south-west of Tokyo, with the drive taking approximately one hour. The town is compact and easy to explore on foot, with a network of local buses running to Ashino-ko Lake, Hakone-jinja and other major attractions.