Hakone is a small town in Kanagawa Prefecture. Located on the Tokaido road, which links Tokyo to Osaka, it was an important stopover in the 17th century, particularly for resting in its onsen hot springs.
The city is located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, a beautiful mountainous region that attracts many tourists but also Tokyotes who come to spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. To get there from the capital, take the Odakyu Romance Car train, or the Shinkansen Kodama train from Tokyo station (Tokaido line) and stop in Odawara, then take the Hakone Tozan line and stop in Hakone-Yumoto. The journey takes less than 2 hours.
To enjoy the onsen, the complex of hot springs Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is one of the most famous, with outdoor and indoor baths. For a more traditional onsen, you can go to Hakone Yuryo or Hakone Kamon.
On the museum side, the city is famous for its open-air museum, where you can see works by Henry Moore or Picasso (the entrance costs 1600 yen). To observe Japanese art, you can visit the Hakone Art Museum, which exhibits local pottery and ceramics.
The panoramic mountain train, the Hakone Tozan Densha train, is also a must for a stay in Hakone. This 100-year-old train (Japan’s oldest railway!) travels up the entire mountain to Gora. It is also possible to visit Gora Koen Park, which has several types of gardens and a wide variety of flowers and plants.
Not far away, the volcanic valley of Owakudani is also not to be missed. This station is known for its black eggs cooked in sulphur water (the smell of sulphur is omnipresent). From Hakone, you can reach it by cable car via Mount Sounzan.
The funicular from Hakone also connects the town of Togendai on the shores of Lake Ashi. The stroll along the lake is also a must during a stay in Hakone, and on a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji. It is also possible to take a cruise on the lake, aboard a medieval sailboat.