Hakone is easily accessible from Tokyo, being only 85 minutes away by train. This popular tourist destination is filled with nature and onsen. Here are 5 sightseeing spots in Hakone.
1. The Hakone Open-Air Museum
Quietly nestled in a nature-filled corner of Hakone, The Hakone Open-Air Museum is Japan's very first outdoor art museum that aims to harmonize art and nature. Within its grounds, measuring approximately 70,000 square meters, there are over 120 modern and contemporary art exhibits on display, and visitors are free to stroll around and leisurely admire these works of art. Some of the giant sculptures pack even more of a punch depending on the weather, season, and time of day! Also, there are 5 different indoor galleries, such as the Main Gallery and Picasso Gallery, which exhibits rare artworks by Picasso. They also hold various special events and exhibitions. Guided tours and workshops are also conducted by the museum staff, for a full day of enjoyment for both adults and children alike.
French artist Gabriel Loire's "Symphonic Sculpture."
2. Onshi-Hakone Park
Onshi-Hakone Park, built in 1886, is located within the grounds of Hakone Imperial Summer Palace, a summer retreat for the royal family and a place to receive VIPs from foreign countries. Within this spacious 15.9 hectare grounds that juts out into Lake Ashinoko, there are open fields and observation decks where you can have an unobstructed view of the beautiful mountains that surround it. You might even be able to see the peak of Mt. Fuji! You can also have a outer rim of Mt. Hakone and a view of the surrounding nature from the 2nd floor balcony at the Lakeside Observation Building in the central area of the park. You might also want to spend some leisurely time at the cafe here, where you can have a perfect view of the beautiful surroundings. Nearby are other tourist attractions such as Hakone Checkpoint, Hakone Shrine, and the cedar-lined Old Tokaido, so why don't you stop by these places on the way?
3. Hakone Ropeway
The Hakone Ropeway is a link between Sounzan Station, the stopover point for the Hakone Tozan Cable Car Line, and Togendai Station right by Lake Ashinoko. The charm of this place is that its highest point is 1,044 meters above sea level, and you can have a bird's eye view of its surroundings. Passing through a valley 130 meters above ground level, passengers can view Owakudani, which has been selected as one of the top 50 scenic locations within Kanagawa, and then the majestic Mt. Fuji, as if taking a stroll through the skies. On a clear day you might even be able to spot Tokyo Sky Tree from afar! This location is great especially for tourists who might want to enjoy the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.
※Hakone Ropeway Service between Sounzan Station to Owakudani Station will not be available from the period of January 10, 2017 to April 14, 2017 due to maintenance and upgrade works. Please use the replacement bus service instead.
4. Hakone Shrine
Quietly nestled among the cedars on the east side of Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Shrine has existed for approximately 1,260 years. The enshrined Hakone no Okami is worshiped here, and Hakone Shrine has been revered as the head of the Kanto deities since ancient times. This shrine is said to be the go-to place when praying for safety on the roads, for heartfelt wishes, and for warding off bad luck, and has been gaining popularity in recent years as a power spot in the Kanto region. The spacious grounds are surrounded by greenery, and even just taking a leisurely stroll here, one can almost feel the overflowing energy from the nature! If you climb up the approach lined with towering cedar trees about 600-800 years old to the main shrine overlooking Lake Ashinoko, you can be sure that the scenery will blow you away. Visitors should also stop by the Kuzuryu Jinja Shingu right next to the main temple of Hakone Shrine, which is well-known as a power spot for answering prayers related to romance and marriage.
5. Gora Onsen
A very popular tourist destination in Hakone, Gora started developing its onsen in 1894 when spring water was drawn from the nearby Mt. Soun. From the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century, Gora came to be a place to go to for summer retreats, and is loved by many politicians, businessmen, and literary artists. There is a good variety of onsen types in Gora that visitors can take a dip in. Depending on the onsen type, baths can have various health effects on the body, so we recommend staying a few days in Gora and finding out the differences yourself! At Gora, there are many well-known tourist attractions such as the very first French style garden, Gora Park, and the Hakone Museum of Art, so visitors can look forward to a full day of sightseeing and onsen later in the night.
Picture is for the purpose of illustration only.
Were you interested in any of these tourist attractions? There are many more such attractions in the nature-filled Hakone that there are plenty not listed here. Please head down and experience the wonders of Hakone for yourself!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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