21 Things to do Hakone, Japan
These are my carefully selected 21 tips & things to do in Hakone which I've visited during a massive typhoon and includes gems like Ninja Cafe Fuma, Ryokan Senkei, Eating Black Eggs, cruising on a Pirate Boat, Joro Spiders and dipping into a wine and coffee spa at Yunessun water park.
- What: Hakone region
- Discounts: Buy the Hakone Freepass for FREE transportation on boats, trains, buses, cable cars & rope ways in Hakone + perks & discounts!
- Wifi: Connectivity can be poor in Hakone so get a portable Wifi station at the airport (20% discount).
- When: Spring & Fall
- Tips: Stay at least 2 days and 2 nights for the full Hakone experience.
- Related: Hedgehog Cafe and Yunessun Waterpark
Hakone is one of the mosy beautiful regions near Tokyo. A visit to Hakone should be paired with a stay at a luxurious ryokan and a visit to the bizarre Yunessun water park. I highly recommend staying at least 2 days and 2 nights in the Hakone region which makes the purchase of the Hakone Freepass the more logical.
1. Hakone Romancecar
Enjoy a cozy ride with the Romancecar from downtown Tokyo to Yumoto-Hakone station. Hakone Freepass gives you a discount!
2. Bento Box
No Japanese train adventure is complete without trying one of their delicious bento boxes.
3. Hakone Tozen Railway
Jump on the Hakone Tozen steep mountain trains to get to Gora village, it's almost like you are in Switzerland.
4. Gora Village
The perfect first day in Hakone is spent at Gora for its central location and local Japanese snack stores.
5. Ninja Cafe Fuma
Throw shurikens aka ninja stars and feast on ninja snacks like fried fish balls and tasty potato snacks.
6. Joro Spiders
Massive Japanese joro spiders, these colorful creepy crawlers are as poisonous as a black widow. So notorious, they exist in Japanese folklore as evil seducers!
7. Hakone Open-Air Museum
Most impressive museum in Hakone including a massive Picasso gallery. Entrance is FREE with the Hakone Freepass.
Jump into a wine, coffee, green tea and sake spa at this bizarre water park in Hakone.
9. Gaku Guesthouse
Save a ton of money by first staying at a simple Ryokan guesthouse in a Japanese style room. Billiards in the garage!
10. Hakone Ropeway
Get from Gora to Owakudani crater with the iconic Hakone ropeway with epic views of Mt. Fuji. If weather permits.
11. Owakudani Crater
The volcanic crater still boiling with volcanic gases, an interesting sight, not recommended if you have health problems.
12. Black Eggs
Most bizarre food in Hakone are these unique black eggs which gotten their color from being boiled in the volcanic crater.
13. Lake Ashi
Famous Lake Ashi has mesmerizing views of Mt. Fuji and Hakone Shrine. Transfer between the Hakone Ropeway to the Pirate boat.
14. Pirate Boat
No one would expect you sailing a pirate boat in Japan. The perfect selfie adventure with Mt. Fuji in the background.
15. Hakone Shrine
Known for its many selfies, the ideal Instagram photo spot.
16. Ryokan Senkei
No trip to Hakone is complete without staying at a luxurious Ryokan.
17. Kaiseki Dinner
At the luxurious ryokan make sure to include kaiseki dinner and breakfast to experience a true Japanese ritual.
Top off your Hakone adventure with a dip in a famous Japanese onsen with views of the mountains. Be aware! You have to be naked!
19. Evangelion Store
Since the Evangelion anime series took place in Hakone, they've dedicated an entire store to it full with merchandise. An Otaku's paradise!
20. Odawara Castle
Gorgeous Japanese castle at the base of the Hakone region, visit it on the way to Hakone or when you depart Hakone.
21. Hakone Freepass
Best bang for you buck! Includes free transportation on boats, cable cars, ropeways, buses and local trains + a ton of perks and discounts in Hakone. 5700 YEN = 51 USD.
Staying in Hakone for 2 days will allow you to see every attraction on the Hakone circle tour. The circle tour starts at Yumoto-Hakone main station and takes you into the mountains through the Owakudani crater and by ropeway back to Lake Ashi at which you jump on a pirate boat which transports you to the other side of the lake from which you take a bus to the Yumoto-Hakone main station again. A magical journey indeed!
During my first night I stayed at budget ryokan, Gaku Guesthouse which was conveniently located next to Gora station. In Gora you will find the Ninja Cafe Fuma where you can throw real ninja stars aka shiruken and feast on local ninja fried snacks.
In Gora you will also find the Yunessun water park which has a wine, coffee, green tea and sake spa including a massive outdoor pool area but also attractions like the Hakone Open-Air museum (Japan's first).
After one night in Gora jump on the cable car and ropeway towards Owakudani where you can try out the unique black eggs which has gotten their color from being boiled into the volcano hot springs and Sulphur. On a clear day you are able to walk around this mesmerizing valley. Owakudani literally means Giant Boiling Valley.
Once you ate your black eggs continue on the ropeway towards Lake Ashi from where you jump on a pirate boat and cruise Lake Ashi while you enjoy beautiful views of Mount Fuji and the Hakone Shrine.
At the pirate boat dock, you can either visit the Hakone Shrine or jump on a bus back to Yumoto-Hakone station where you should spend your second night in a luxurious ryokan including a traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner and sleep in Japanese futons all presented by a Nakai, a Japanese house maid. On the third day before departing Hakone jump into an onsen, Japanese hot spring to conclude this magical experience in the Hakone region.
My favorite part of this trip was the Yunessun water park, dipping in a wine and coffee spa was such a memorable experience that it wasn't too uncommon seeing literally everyone taking selfies. Make sure to watch my complete YouTube episode on the Yunessun water park.
In conclusion, had I known about the Hakone freepass prior I would have saved myself a lot of money but due to the lack of research on my part I missed out on this great opportunity. Get your own Hakone Freepass with free access to buses, ropeways, cable cars, trains and boats plus a round trip from Tokyo to Hakone.