Hakone Highlight Guide – 13 Spots You Need to Visit at Least Once!


One of the attractive features of Hakone is that you can enjoy hot springs, art museums, the great outdoors, and gourmet cuisine - all in one place! Hop on board the Romance Car (Odakyu Railway) at Shinjuku Station, and in just 73 minutes you will arrive in Hakone. It is a sightseeing area with very convenient access from the heart of Tokyo.

Today we will introduce some of the most appealing sightseeing spots in Hakone.

The Hakone Open Air Museum - Enjoy a Superb Interactive Art Experience

The Hakone Open Air Museum is one of the leading museums in the Hakone area, and attracts visitors from around the world.

Its works of art are displayed outside on the museum grounds, which cover some 70,000 square meters. Depending on the season, the weather, and the time, the art pieces change in appearance and mood. The Picasso Exhibition Hall which houses three hundred of the painter’s masterpieces, is a must-visit.

The Hakone Open Air Museum

Museum of Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince in Hakone - Explore an Imaginary World!

Museum of Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince in Hakone, the first of its kind in the world, was built as part of a celebration to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote the famous book called “The Little Prince”. In the exhibition hall, visitors can enjoy learning about his life as well as looking at displays featuring the imaginary world he created.

Outside there is a rose garden and a French-style garden, as well as an old castle and church both of which are associated with the author. Moreover, an early twentieth century French cityscape has been beautifully recreated here.

Museum of Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince in Hakone

Hakone Museum of Art - A Breathtakingly Beautiful Japanese Garden

Open to the public since 1952, the Hakone Museum of Art is one of the most history-filled museums in Hakone. Its collection focuses on ceramics and pottery from the ancient Jomon and Kofun periods all the way up to the Edo period (1603-1868).

One of the museum highlights is the breathtaking beauty of the Japanese garden which adjoins the museum. When the fresh green foliage emerges and also when the leaves change color in the autumn, the encompassing view looks just like a painting.

Shinwatei is a tea house looking out onto a beautiful moss garden. Here guests can savor matcha green tea and Japanese sweets as they gaze out at the scenery that changes with each season.

Hakone Museum of Art

Okada Museum of Art - Experience Japanese Art in the Great Hall

The Okada Museum of Art was built on the site of the old Kaikatei Hotel, a place that served international visitors during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The museum boasts an exhibition space covering some 5,000 square meters with 450 pieces always on display. It houses a magnificent collection of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean artwork, from ancient times up until the present.

Japan’s leading artists and painters including Ogata Korin, Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusai, and Yokoyama Taikan, all have their artwork on display here so this museum is definitely a must-see.

Okada Museum of Art

Take a Picture of Mt. Fuji’s Reflection in Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi, a superb location surrounded by lush nature, is a place that shouldn’t be missed in Hakone. The inverted image of Mt. Fuji reflected on the surface of Lake Ashi, is a special view that can only be seen in the quiet hours of the morning on days when the weather is good. A picture of this view is ideal for uploading onto Instagram, so make sure you don’t forget to take a photo to remember this scene by.

Also, if you ride the Hakone pirate ship which connects Hakonemachi-ko with Togendai, you can admire all the beautiful views of Lake Ashi and the surrounding mountains.

Owakudani - Feel the Earth’s Energy and Power!

Though Hakone is a place surrounded by nature and greenery, Owakudani is characterized by reddish-brown earth and a bleak and desolate landscape. The odor of sulphur filling the air tells visitors that this is an active volcano area. The view of Owakudani from the ropeway high up in the sky is so impressive! Please be sure to taste the boiled black eggs (kuro-tamago), an Owakudani specialty.

Hakone-jinja Shrine - Get Blessed with Good Fortune

Hakone-jinja Shrine, standing on the shore of Lake Ashi, is not only a beautiful shrine but it also boasts a rich history of being supported by military commanders in pre-modern times. The shrine precincts have a solemn atmosphere and are surrounded by trees and greenery. The majestic torii gate standing in Lake Ashi is a superb spot for taking pictures.

Hakone-jinja Shrine

Onshi Hakone Park - Great Views from Hakone Rikyu Palace

Onshi Hakone Park is situated on the former site of Hakone Rikyu Palace. From the shore of Lake Ashi where this park is located, you can see the various mountains that form the outline of Mt. Hakone’s crater, and all of Mt. Fuji. This scenery is listed among the 50 Picturesque Locations in Kanagawa.

Onshi Hakone Park

Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun - Take a Dip in the Hot Spring Pool

For families, couples, and groups of friends who want to have a great time together, we recommend Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun. Here, all year long, you can enjoy relaxing in the hot spring pool wearing your bathing suit.

Visitors will be satisfied by the spectacular water slide, which will make you feel like a child again, and also by the unique, fun-filled hot springs that include a bath inside a cave and a beautifying wine bath. There is also Mori no Yu, a Japanese-style outdoor open-air bath (bathing suits not permitted) also known as a rotenburo.

Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun

Hakone Gora Park - Make Original Souvenirs on the Park Premises

Hakone Gora Park is located near Gora Station, the terminus of the Hakone Tozan Railway Line. It opened to the public in 1914, and is Japan’s first French-style formal garden. This park shows a different scenery each season, and the view resembles a painting regardless of where you take a picture.

In addition to the tea ceremony class, we also recommend pottery making, glass blowing, and a tonbodama glass beads workshop for visitors who would like a hands-on experience.

Hakone Gora Park

Hakone Tozan Railway - The Switchback Route Will Have you on the Edge of your Seat!

The Hakone Tozan Railway connects Odawara, at an elevation of 14 meters, with Gora, which sits at an elevation of 541 meters. Even in Japan, this is one of only a few genuine mountain railways. Its attractive feature is the spectacular view of the Hakone mountains, with their abundant nature and the seasonal scenery.

When the train slowly climbs the steep slope of the mountains in a switchback (*1) manner, everyone from children to adults will definitely be excited and on the edge of their seats!

*1 Switchback: a method for trains to climb steep mountain slopes. For a short distance, the direction of travel is reversed, before the original direction is resumed. As a result, the train goes up steep gradients in a zig-zag kind of fashion.

Hakone Tozan Cable Car - Enjoy the Scenery from the Car Window

The Hakone Tozan Cable Car connects Gora Station, the terminus of the Hakone Tozan Railway, with Sounzan Station which sits at a higher elevation of 750 meters. Part way along the cable car route, you can look down through the window and get great views of Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji.

Hakone Scenery from High Above on the Hakone Ropeway

In mid-air from the Hakone Ropeway, you can admire the impressive scenery of the Hakone area. From Togendai Station on the shore of Lake Ashi, the ropeway passes through Owakudani Station before finally arriving at Sounzan Station, some 24 minutes later.

Along the route there are many wonderful views that can be seen only from the ropeway, including the glittering Lake Ashi, the giant panorama of Mt. Fuji, and the ravine at the bottom of Owakudani!

In Closing

In addition to many interesting facilities, in today’s article we also introduced sightseeing spots that can be enjoyed by all visitors regardless of age and gender. The great thing about Hakone is that you can choose a different kind of trip depending on your preference and your mood on that day. For example, you can spend a relaxing time at the hot springs or make visit the wonderful art museums in the area.

If you purchase a Hakone Freepass, which allows you to use Hakone transportation in an economical manner, you’ll be able to enjoy your sightseeing all the more smoothly and conveniently.

*The information in this article is effective as of August 29, 2018.