Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

by Luke - TripleLights travel specialist

Looking for an interesting place to visit in Japan? Hakone has a mix of stunning parks, creative museums, hiking routes, and even a ropeway! Only a short train ride from Tokyo, Hakone is sure to impress with its wealth of natural beauty. Read on for our top ten Hakone sightseeing spots:

Onshi-Hakone Park

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by flickr.com)

Onshi-Hakone Park is located on Togashima Peninsula which juts out into Lake Ashi. The Hakone Detached Palace that had been built in 1886 collapsed twice due to earthquakes. It was then later opened up as a Hakone park. With its panoramic view of the lake, the surrounding mountains and Mt. Fuji ahead, it is a superb viewing spot that has been selected in “The Top 50 Picturesque Sceneries of Kanagawa Prefecture” and “The Top 100 Views of Mt. Fuji in the Kanto Region”. The well-maintained hedges and large trees lend to the special atmosphere that is distinct with this historic park. It has been registered as a National Monument with its contribution to the development of landscape gardening culture.

The cornerstones from the main building of the former detached palace remain in the middle of the park and are in front of the Lakeside Observation Building that is reminiscent of the old palace. Information on the Hakone Detached Palace is displayed on the 1st floor with a café on the 2nd floor. From the balcony, you can get a grand view of Hakone from the best location. For other observation points, there is Benten-no-hana, To-no-hana Plaza and other sites where you can get views of the landscape from various angles. In the garden, you can enjoy scenery throughout the four seasons such as the cherry trees in spring, the azaleas and hydrangeas of early summer as well as the summer greenery and the autumn colors. There are also the 200 mossy stone steps and the undulating small road that goes around the park so that you can also get a taste of hiking.  

Around the park, there is the Hakone Checkpoint, Hakone Shrine, an old cedar-lined highway among other sites of interest where you can also visit. At the park, you can also rent out electric bicycles and do some touring from there.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Onshi-Hakone Park
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Onshi-Hakone Park
Tours of Onshi-Hakone Park

Hakone Open-Air Museum

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

At the Hakone Open-Air Museum, an outdoor art museum that boasts a vast site covering approximately 70,000 square meters, you can enjoy sculptures from Henry Moore, Marta Pan and others.

The park, which is Japan’s first outdoor art museum, was opened in 1969 with the goal of making sculpture art more popular. Approximately 120 sculptural masterpieces are on permanent display across the huge sculpture park. These works of art can be enjoyed while viewing the mountains of Hakone. Calmly walking among nature while enjoying famous sculptures up-close is a real thrill that is unique to the outdoor art museum. There are also play sculptures that children can touch and have fun with, and other features that the whole family can enjoy, such as the maze. 

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,600 / Child: ¥ 800

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Open-Air Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Open-Air Museum
Tours of Hakone Open-Air Museum

Hakone Glass Museum

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots(image by flickr.com)

An out-of-the-ordinary world appearing in the middle of the grand nature of Hakone. Buildings that have re-created Venice have an atmosphere that feels like being in a European castle of the Middle Ages.

Within the vast grounds, there are the Venetian Glass Museum and the Venetian Modern Glass Museum. At the Venetian Glass Museum, there is a permanent display of approximately 100 examples of glass art works that boast a thousand years of history of Venice, Italy. The Venetian glass that enthused European nobility from the 15th to 18th centuries is the height of beauty. The Venetian Modern Glass Museum is located in the courtyard. Venetian glass staged a comeback in the late 19th century, and imbued with new life, original and modern Venetian glass is displayed.   But it’s not all about the interior of the museum. Inside the European-style garden, there is a crystal glass arch, called the Corridor of Light, with a height of 9m and a total length of about 10m that resembles a bridge with its own special presence. Roughly 160,000 beads of crystal glass are moved by the wind which glitter and reflect the light. A brilliance of 7 colors is released from the sunlight and wind direction especially in autumn.

This is a museum with an elegant impression, but the secret of not getting tired of it even after many visits is its interactivity. You can create glass at the sandblasting studio, carving patterns through blowing sand and making keyholders and accessories with the techniques of melting and fusing glass together. At the café-restaurant where you can taste the famous fruit tea, there are live canzone performances 6 times a day. This is a museum which you can enjoy with all five senses.    

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,500 / Child: ¥ 600

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Glass Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Glass Museum
Tours of Hakone Glass Museum

Pola Museum of Art

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by flickr.com)

An enormous collection from the owner of cosmetics company Pola. From the exhibits to the exterior, you can feel the scale for the professional beauty with a look. The museum contains a wide collection from paintings to pottery and glasswork.

The Pola Museum of Art is built within Hakone National Park. It boasts Japan’s largest collection of Impressionist art such as Monet, Renoir and Picasso. There is also a wide collection from Western and Japanese paintings to East Asian collections of ceramic ware and glasswork. The part of the museum that is above ground is only 8m high. It was possible to conform to the strict standards of construction on the park grounds, but to preserve the environment and view, the museum is underground. The all-glass ceiling lets in natural light so that it goes all the way to the 3rd floor underground. The balance of light and shadow shifting with the time and amount of  sunlight is superb. Within this quiet beauty, you can take your time appreciating the art. The building itself can be said to be a piece of art as well. Dining establishments are available which can be used without having to enter the museum. You can spend an elegant time on the terrace during sunny days in a quiet environment. The restaurants are on the 1st floor and the first basement within the museum. You can access the 1st floor without having to enter the museum. More than 200 kinds of tasteful original goods such as postcards and mugs are available which are perfect as souvenirs. Limited-edition goods for special exhibitions, traditional art works and other handicrafts of Hakone are also managed. 

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,800 / Child: ¥ 700

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Pola Museum of Art
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Pola Museum of Art
Tours of Hakone Pola Museum of Art

Hakone Gora Park

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by flickr.com)

A park which has many buildings that have remained as they have been since its opening. The tea ceremony, pottery, glassblowing, sandblasting and many other things can be experienced here.

Located at the end of the Hakone Tozan Railway, this is Japan’s first French-style garden that opened in Gora. One characteristic is the placement of the pond and other facilities symmetrically and geometrically on the vast site on the slope. Gora Park is a very precious park that has continued to exist in its complete form as a Western-style garden. Within the park grounds of sloping roads and many stairs, there is a difference of 40m between the west and main gates, and you can witness an unusual phenomenon during winter when the snow falls inside the park. The scenery and the flora brought to life by the change in temperature and slope are highlights that you will want to see all over at leisure. It is a park where you can enjoy flowers throughout the four seasons, but a particular area to see is the rose garden. A thousand roses of 140 varieties are planted there, and they make for a splendid collaboration with the fresh leaves and the autumn foliage.

Admission: ¥ 550

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Gora Park
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Gora Park
Tours of Hakone Gora Park

Hakone Museum of Art

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by flickr.com)

Hakone’s oldest art museum. The autumn leaves of the garden are so beautiful that they are used in posters for Hakone. Noted exhibits include earthenware up to the Edo Era.

The museum is a building with Chinese-style blue tiles and large windows that let in natural light. Exhibits include earthenware from the Jomon Era to Edo Era pottery. Aside from these, another place to see is the Shinsenkyo Garden that has been designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty. This garden surrounded by nature is somewhat different from Hakone’s other places of note. The moss garden tightly planted with approximately 130 kinds of moss is said to be Japan’s largest in terms of variety. Depending on the season, there are various changes such as the vivid green of the spring and the deep greenery during the rainy season. But especially in November, the 200 maple trees provide a splendid contrast. It is famed as a place for the changing colors. Taking a stroll will take 1 to 2 hours. Since the peak season of November is extremely crowded, the weekdays and especially the mornings are best for taking photos since the leaves roll up in the afternoon. However, using a tripod is not allowed. Even on rainy days, the scenery changes so visitors rarely cancel. There is a path lined with Japanese clover from the main building to the annex. During the peak season of September, the highlight is the clover on both sides of the path threatening to cover everything. On either side of the stairway heading to the main building from the path, there is a spreading bamboo garden that is in harmony with the building’s exterior. On weekends and holidays as well as in August and November, there is the Ishiraku-en rock garden that is especially open to the public that has a sense of spaciousness. It is a garden that centers on the rock arrangement and the streams, and the scenery that brings the slopes to life makes the garden a space like no other.

Admission: ¥ 900

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Museum of Art
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Museum of Art
Tours of Hakone Museum of Art

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Japan’s first wetland garden that starts from Hakone where 1700 species of flora live in the wetlands and marshes that exist between the high and low mountains of the nation. Closed during the winter.

Hakone Botanical Garden centers on the plant life thriving in the rivers and marshes originating from the wetlands. One particular feature is the walking path where you can look around the primeval wetlands from the lowlands to the mountains, and the wetlands that formed thereafter in order. 

There are 8 zones within the garden: deciduous broad-leafed forests, dry grassy plains, low moors, Japanese moor grass plains, high mountain flower fields, high moors, the Sengokuhara wetlands and hygrophyte forests.

The flowers of more than 100 types of plants bloom in the garden. October is the peak time for Japanese pampas grass in the adjacent Sengokuhara. The grass that spreads out all over turns gold under the sun to become a shining carpet, a magnificent sight. As the autumn gets into full swing in the garden, the area is surrounded by the colors of flowers such as violet bellflowers and gold toad lilies. Right by the entrance, grass from mountains and fields from other countries is planted. Worthy of note are the unusual water plants from abroad. On the information board at the entrance, the best times to see the flowers are listed at any time. 

Admission: Adult: ¥ 700 / Child: ¥ 400

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands
Tours of Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

Hakone Ropeway

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by Hakone Ropeway website)

Hakone Ropeway takes 24 minutes and has 4 stations. The time on board is short, but as a way to see the important spots of Hakone, it is indispensable. The view is so wonderful that on sunny days, you can see as far away as Tokyo Skytree. Take the ropeway from Lake Ashi to Owakudani, riding up the Hakone mountain cable to Sounzan Station through every station. 

Lake Ashi has a circumference of 19 km that was created from volcanic activity about 3000 years ago. You can take a walk while viewing Lake Ashi at Kojiri Fureai Park 5 minutes from the Togendai Station. Within the park, there is a mysterious atmosphere with the many twisted trees. If you are going to Hakone or Old Hakone from here, take the sightseeing cruise ships on Lake Ashi for an elegant tour.

Owakudani Station is another stop, located within a national park. It’s the smoking area of the Hakone volcano which is currently showing the volcanic activity from about 3000 years ago. The tea house black eggs over there are famous since eating one of them is said to prolong your life by 7 years. The smell of hydrogen sulfide is intense, but you can get the feeling of the power of the great nature. A wide landscape unfolds in front of you as you go up the steep slope from Sounzan to Owakudani. You wonder if you are actually walking in the sky. Do not miss out on this moment.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 730 / Child: ¥ 370

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Ropeway
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Ropeway
Tours of Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Hot Springs

Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by flickr.com)

Hakone is a town of hot springs with a long history where you can enjoy looking at Mount Fuji while bathing in hot springs surrounded by nature. Because Hakone offers hot springs for resting, skin beauty, curing and much more, baths can also be selected by your bathing purpose. Whether you make it a day trip or decide to stay at an inn, there are numerous ways of enjoying Hakone.

There are numerous ways to enjoy Hakone where the 25,000 tons of warm water that flows daily from hot springs tabs are supplied to spas, resort facilities and hot springs inns. Hakone features many tourist attractions in addition to the hot springs: You can take a ride on the mountain railway train, a gondola lift or a cable car for a magnificent view of Mount Fuji and the national park, or you could visit tourist facilities such as museums and gardens, or you could participate in various seasonal events. Hakone is a diverse region; since the atmosphere and tourist attractions largely differ among the various areas of Hakone.

Admission: ¥ 800 - ¥ 1950 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakone Hot Springs
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakone Hot Springs
Tours of Hakone Hot Springs


Ten of the Best Hakone Sightseeing Spots

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Wetlands and pampas plains that expand through a wide area of Hakone. The autumn pampas, which has been selected as one of The Top 50 Picturesque Sceneries of Kanagawa and The Top 100 Flowers of Kanagawa, is visited by many during the early spring when the controlled yamayaki burning of the mountain occurs.

On the slopes of Mt. Daigatake in Sengokuhara, Japanese pampas grass grows all over. At the end of summer, the tips of the grass start to turn gold and the pampas have lush green stems. Entering late fall, the grass takes on a golden color and taking in the sunlight, the scenery becomes a golden carpet. While thoroughly enjoying the pampas, going up the lone path reveals a landscape that resembles a golden sea as far as the eye can see. You can view splendid scenery where the plains are in harmony with the surrounding mountains and wetlands.

The annual custom of yamayaki occurs between mid and late March. The plains’ vegetation and scenery are maintained through fire. About 200 local residents set fire to 18 hectares of the plains, and the growing fire burns the grass down in one shot. The burned plains bathe in the sun’s rays and warm up rapidly so that the spring flora bloom in white and violet and the pampas start to bud.  

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Sengokuhara
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Sengokuhara
Tours of Sengokuhara

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25 Jun 2015

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