Travel Japan: Must-See Sights of Hakone
Hakone is a must-visit traveler’s destination for those of you who are visiting or planning to visit Japan. Located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan, Hakone is located only 90 minutes from Tokyo by train, making it a perfect place for a day or weekend trip. This picturesque town is known to have beautiful scenery during all four seasons, as it’s surround by beautiful mountains, lakes, and its view of Mount Fuji. For the anime lovers out there, Hakone was also the main location for the popular anime series ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’. Below are 7 things to do in Hakone
Hakone Onsens (Hot Springs)
Hakone is known for the diversity and quality of its various onsens. There are many ways to enjoy the hot springs in Hakone. You can try spending a day or a weekend relaxing at one of the many ryokans (Japanese-styled hotels) that Hakone has to offer, or you can also check out a popular hot spring theme park called, Yunnessan, where you can soak in various types of hot spring baths filled with coffee, wine and even herbs.
Owakudani (The Great Boiling Valley)
Owakudani, is the area surrounding a crater in the ground where Mount Hakone erupted around 3,000 years ago. Much of the area today is still a volcanic zone, with active sulphur vents and hot springs. Owakudani is well known for its beautiful scenery, volcanic activity, and kuro-tamago (black egg) – a local specialty, where eggs are hard boiled in the hot springs and turn black due to the sulfur in the water. Eating one of these eggs are said to lengthen one’s life span by seven years. For the more adventurous travelers, there are many hiking trails at Owakudani that you can try out.
Lake Ashi/ Ashinoko
Lake Ashi with Mount Fuji in the background is the symbol of Hakone. Most of the Lake’s shores are undeveloped, with the exceptions of small towns to the east and north, and a couple of lakeside hotels. The best views of Mount Fuji can be seen on the sightseeing boats cruising the lake. However, it’s important to note that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, so consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view.
The Hakone Shrine
The Hakone Shrine is a Japanese Shinto Shrine that sits at the foot of Mount Hakone by the shores of Lake Ashi. The shrine was founded in 757 during the reign of Emperor Kosho and was originally located at the summit of the Komagatake Peak of Mount Hakone. The shrine was relocated to it’s current location in 1667. The shrine buildings are hidden by the dense forest that surround it, but it’s location is well announced by its huge red torii gates. The path from the torii gates leads up a series of steps through the forest, lit with lanterns on both sides, to the main buildings of the shrine.
Hakone Glass no Mori (Hakone Venetian Glass Museum)
Hakone Glass no Mori features Italian styled buildings that house museums and shops. The buildings are connected by a large strolling garden that surrounds a canal like pond. The Hakone Glass no Mori’s Venetian Glass Museum houses a collection of over 100 modern and classical Venetian glassware in all forms, while the Venetian Glass Modern Museum features glass pieces made by contemporary and modern artists.
The Odawara Castle is a landmark building in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Originally built in the mid 15th century, the castle was destroyed by an earthquake in 1703 and rebuilt, but was then dismantled and sold in 1870. Rich in history, the castle site was pronounced a National Historic Site in 1938, and the current castle was rebuilt in 1960 based on models and drawing from the Edo Period. The castle is three stories on the outside and four stories on the inside. The castle site is also a famous spot to see cherry blossoms and many other flowers. Also located on the castle grounds is a Ninja Museum where visitors can learn more about ninja skills and cultures.
Hakone Open Air Museum
The Hakone Open Air Museum is an outdoor sculpture park designed with the intentions of creating a harmonic balance between nature and art. Opened in 1969, there are over 120 pieces by contemporary sculptors spread over 70,000 square meters of museum grounds. The on-site indoor Picasso Exhibition features 300 of Picassos works. The Hakone Open Air Museum is a perfect place to go for a leisurely stroll surrounded by nature and art.