Hakone is a town in Kanagawa Prefecture, to a great degree regarded as a famous destination among Japanese and international tourists. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than one hundred kilometres from Tokyo. In addition to hot springs, museums and other recreation activities, Hakone is known for its scenery during all four seasons.
Formed from volcanic eruptions around 3,000 years ago, Owakudani allows you to see the continuous active volcanic activity in Hakone. Due to its unique landscape, it was called the “Valley of Hell” back in the Edo Period. Today, much of the area is an active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers can be experienced. Additionally, Owakudani has good views of Mount Fuji on clear days. Owakudani is a station along the Hakone Ropeway between Sounzan and Togendai. You can reach Owakudani by riding the Hakone Ropeway.
Activities: Photo stop, Shopping Fee: Varies (JPY 300-JPY 900) Time required: 30-45 minutes
The Hakone Ropeway connects Sounzan station (at the terminus of the Hakone Tozan Cablecar) and Togendai station (at the shore of Lake Ashinoko). It stops at Owakudani and Ubako stations on the way. Along the journey, passengers can enjoy views of the active, sulfuric hot spring of Owakudani and the beautiful sight of Hakone. If you are lucky, you can even see Mt. Fuji when there’s a clear sky. The Hakone Ropeway has been acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most ridden ropeway in the world.
Activities: Ropeway ride, Shopping Fee: JPY 1480 (one way) Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Lake Ashinoko is a lake created from an ancient volcano eruption and is the largest in Kanagawa Prefecture. Today, the lake with Mount Fuji in the background is the symbol of Hakone. One of the best ways to enjoy the lake is by riding the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise, pirate-themed boats that let travellers see the view around the lake. Note, however, that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer and the early morning and late afternoon hours.
Activities: Boat riding Fee: Typically, JPY 1050 (one-way boat cruise) Time required: Minimum 30 minutes
Odawara Castle was led by the Hojo Clan, one of the most powerful clans during the Warring States Era. Today it is the closest castle keep to Tokyo. You can have a panoramic view of Sagami Bay by climbing the castle’s symbol, the castle tower. There are also facilities close to the castle where you can experience samurai culture such as the Tokiwagi Gate Samurai Hall, where armour and katanas are on display and you can even try on armour for yourself!
Activities: Photo stop, Castle visit Fee: Varies (JPY 310-JPY 900) Time required: 30 minutes – 1 hour
The Gotemba Premium Outlets are Japan’s most popular outlet mall, located in Gotemba City at the base of Mount Fuji, not far from Hakone. The mall features around 300 stores and restaurants, a food court, a 50 meter high Ferris wheel, a hotel and a public hot spring bath. The stores found at the Premium Outlets are the outlets of internationally known brands of fashion, sports, food, household goods and electronics, and range from everyday items to luxury goods. The prices are not ridiculously cheap, but they are better on average than what you will find at regular retail shops in Japan. (Image via Hakone Navi)