Those of you who have been in Japan from more than one time might already know about Hakone. It is a resort area a few hours away from Tokyo with hot springs, mountains, museums, and national parks. It is mostly loved by long-resident foreigners. The number of sights is so large that many tourists cannot possibly squeeze Hakone in their busy schedule. This post will be useful for those who either stay a month or longer or are interested in nature more than metropolitan.
First of all, many tourists and even long residents have little information about Japanese sightseeings. All we rely on is the Internet, and the Internet would give limited information on why to go to a certain place. So far, there has never been a website that would compare sightseeing places and by doing so would provide a reason to choose one of them.
Obviously, Hakone would come out first if you google “hot springs”, “not far from Tokyo” or “one day trip”. But there are more reasons to choose Hakone as one of your places of destination:
- It helps understand that Japan is a country with many volcanoes. One of the main sightseeing spots is called Owakudani, with a sleeping volcano. The volcano woke up last year, and it was all in the news.
- It gives a break from the narrow and crowded streets of Tokyo. The never-ending forests make a nice change of place for those who are exhausted from a big city.
- Almost all the museums and tourist attractions are open-air. It is highly important at the time of writing cause we now are struggling to prevent the Novice Corona infection from spreading and open-air museums are just what you need in times like this. You are both entertained and safe during the pandemic.
- Last but not least, there are entertainments of all sorts starting with Japanese shrines and ryokans and ending with an Outlet.
How long to stay in Hakone?
Good question! If this is paradise, why should I not stay forever? Unfortunately, relaxation cannot last forever otherwise its value will decrease. Hakone is an entertainment for a few days.
- Round trip. Highly inadvisable, because you would spend more time on the road than enjoying Hakone
- One-day trip. Judging from my experience, this is the best way to travel to Hakone. You spend a few hours traveling, but other than that you have enough time to enjoy the pleasures of Hakone and its hots springs. Remember, you can always come back in a week or so.
- One-day trip every now and then. That is also a good way to spend your leisure as there is never a time when you would have nothing to do in Hakone. However, staying at good hot spring ryokans is very pricy (as well as the transportation) so be sure you do not run out of budget.
- Two-day trip. I would not advise a two-day trip, especially if you keen on staying in a Japanese ryokan. First of all, they feed you very well and having the same breakfast and dinner two times in a row will exhaust your body. Second, the endless amount of time together with hot springs would make you lazy and you would not have the energy to get up and do something.
How to travel to Hakone?
The most popular way to Hakone is by a Romance car. With is great! You really should ride this train at least once. But there is a twist, Romance car would not take you to where your hot spring ryokan is. It will go as far as Hakone Yumoto station, and if your hot spring ryokan is located someplace near Owakudani, which it likely is cause there are the best ones, you would have to ride another train for about an hour and change to a cable car which will finally take you to your hotel. That be the case, Romance car, despite its name, is not the most pleasant means of transportation.
First of all, I would recommend going by car. If you don’t have a car, rent it. There are numerous options for tourists. You can rent a car in Hakone and travel around. A car would easily take you to hot springs and museums that you planned to visit.
Second, I would recommend going by bus. There are a few busses that go from Tokyo (either Shinjuku station or Tokyo station if I am not mistaken) to Hakone and there are even more busses in Hakone. The bus gives you the same mobility as the car does, the minus point is that you would have to carry all your things yourself.