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This Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guide (Hakone Purple Guide) provides information about the best things to do in Hakone and ensures that you will be Making Memorable Moments on a relaxing vacation in Hakone.
Getting to Hakone from Tokyo by train is straightforward. You take a 35min Shinkansen train ride from Tokyo Station (map) to the Odawara Station (map). From there you change to the historic Hakone Tozan Railway which brings you up the mountain to Hakone in only 15min.
With a nightly rate above US$200, this historic hotel was actually one of the cheaper places in Hakone. It is within 5 min walking of the Miyanoshita train station. The hotel offers a free shuttle to bring you to the train station which is a good thing as Hakone’s streets are not flat and walking up and down the many hills with your luggage can be a challenge. Our room, 410, is large, beautifully decorated, has 2 beds with firm mattresses, a TV with English channels, a desk, a hair dryer, a small fridge with a mini bar, a large bathroom with tons of complimentary items including shampoo, body wash and conditioner. Hot water comes from the hot spring near the hotel and cold water is supplied by the city.
The hotel has an indoor pool and an outdoor pool (the indoor pool was closed as the roof leaked during our stay), a Japanese garden, a small museum, several shops (all accept credit cards), a gender-separated onsen and several dining rooms. Breakfast was included in the room rate. When we were there, breakfast was actually served in 2 different dining rooms. One restaurant served American continental breakfast and the other a breakfast buffet. We chose the breakfast buffet and were very happy with our choice. They had many choices starting with typical continental breakfast items like bacon, scrambled eggs, sunny side up eggs, Japanese sausages, etc., croissants, margarine, marmalade, and also some oriental foods like rice, curry, eggplant, etc. Additionally, they had an omelet bar, corn flakes, different fruits, fruit juices, great tasting whole milk, coffee and a selection of teas.
The hotel had free and fast wifi and the personnel and service are excellent and people spoke some English.
Long story short: This is a nice but expensive hotel. When I booked it, it was in line or cheaper than other hotels in this area.
Hakone is a small town with a population of about 14,000 people and designated as a Japanese National Geopark. Tourism is the dominant source of income as the onsen hot spring resorts, museums, Hakone’s scenic beauty, its proximity to Tokyo and the ability to see Mount Fuji on a clear day attract lots of tourists.
I had cut our visit to Hakone short due to and hazy and rainy weather and seismic activity in the months before our visit which closed the Owakudani Nature Trail and other attractions beyond the Hakone Open Air Museum that you can normally reach by the Hakone Ropeway. I will provide information on these attractions in the “Other Sights” section.
When you visit Hakone, here is the climate that you can expect:
Upon popular request, pinterest users, please repin these images:
Hakone has multiple stops; we exited at Miyanoshita Station (map) as this is where our hotel was.
There are several restaurants and souvenir stores near Miyanoshita Station.
Do you love to see sculptures from artists around the globe? Have you always wanted to see some paintings, sculptures etc. from Picasso? If so, then the Hakone Open Air Museum may be for you.
Laid out over several acres of grass and wooded land with the mountains as a backdrop are 120 sculptures from artists around the globe and another 900 indoors. Some are bronze, some are shiny mirror like and some are beautifully painted. Others are very modern and others are more traditional Japanese.
Competing with the natural beauty of the scenery is the Picasso pavilion which has paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, dishes and other objects that Picasso made.
Hakone Open Air Museum is for all ages, including small kids who can play in a large transparent plastic structure.
We liked the park, but I am not sure why it is considered the number one attraction in Hakone. If you are in Hakone and like art, then this park will likely be for you. However, don't go out of your way to see it.
In case you wondered: The Hakone Open-Air Museum opened in 1969 and is Japan's first open-air museum.
Due to previous seismic activity, we did not do the following:
Owakudani ("Great Boiling Valley") is a volcanically active valley with sulphur vents and hot springs which was created about 3,000 years ago. Here is more information on what we did not see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Cwakudani
Lake Ashinoko or Lake Ashi or Hakone Lake
Lake Ashinoko is a scenic crater lake. The main reasons why hordes of tourists visit it are:
On clear days you can see Mount Fuji over the beautiful lake; the views can be spectacular from the tourist boats
Hakone Shrine (map) was visited by shōgun, samurai, and many travelers over the centuries
Belonging to Hakone Shrine is Hakone Jinjya Heiwano-Torii (map) which has developed into Hakone’s scenic and most instagrammable landmark.
The photo shows Lake Ashinoko with the orange Hakone Jinjya Heiwa-no-Torii and snow-covered Mount Fuji in the background
By Kentagon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5622308
Please click on the images below to kearn more about the other destinations we visited in Japan.