1. Enjoy an Onsen
Hakone is one of the most popular and eclectic areas for enjoying a hot spring soak. There are dozens of baths with different views, water quality, and levels of privacy. You can soak under the trees, looking out on the mountains, or in a private tub with a loved one
2. Go for a Hike
Hakone is a quasi-national park with wonderful natural treasures hidden throughout the mountains. A hike up Mt. Kintoki gives you one of the best views of Fuji you can get. There is a wonderful hike around Lake Ashi giving you a chance to enjoy some special cultural and historical spots. There are waterfalls to discover and many other shorter hikes and day walks throughout the area.
3. Visit a Museum
Hakone has some of the most impressive museums in all of Japan. Hakone is close to Tokyo and the natural setting makes in a center for the arts. The Hakone Outdoor Museum ranks as one of the best museums in the world, POLA has an impressive collection of western art, and Okada and Narukawa Art museums give visitors the chance to see and learn about asian art. Among the mountains of Hakone are works by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Higashiyama, Cezanne, Lalique, and many more.
4. Stay in a Ryokan
Ryokan are traditional Japanese Inns. You can think of a ryokan as an old style Japanese hotelwith a history and tradition of hospitality going back hundreds of years. Hakone has also been a popular stop on the old Tokaido Road between Kyoto and Tokyo and therefore had many ryokan to accommodate travelers. There are some ryokan in Hakone with a history of more than 300 years! A stay in a ryokan is a truly unique experience, from the food to the sleeping arrangements, from the hospitality to the connection with history.
5. Taste Traditional Foods
There are many options and foods to taste while you are in the mountains of Hakone. The hotels and ryokan have wonderful experiences reflecting the seasons and local tastes. There are also many restaurants and traditional foods to try while you are in exploring. In the Yumoto area you can try one of the many delicious traditional Japanese sweets like manju. Hakone is also famous for the quality of water, giving you a chance to taste delicious soba and tofu. Hakone is at the center of a rich food producing region between the Pacific Ocean and fertile plains of Mt. Fuji.
6. See a Geisha
Geisha once existed throughout Japan and even though their number are getting smaller, there are still some vibrant geisha communities in Japan. Kyoto and Hakone are both famous for their geisha. The geisha of Hakone entertain guests with their skill, beauty, elegance, and refinement of the arts. The geisha house in Yumoto often has open shows for visitors and the front desk at your hotel may be able to make reservations for a personal geisha show.
7. Ride a Rickshaw
In front of Yumoto station are wonderful rickshaw tours that will take you through the streets of Hakone for a guided journey through the history and nature of the area. There are different trips of different time lengths for you to choose from. Traditional areas of Japan like Kyoto, Asakusa, and Hakone give you the opportunity to experience Japan in a different way. The rickshaw drivers guide you through town in English.
8. Find Mt. Fuji
Hakone is very close to Mt. Fuji and there are some wonderful views of the mountain in town. The most popular places to see Fuji from Hakone are Mt. Kintoki, Komagatake, Owakudani, and the shores of Moto-Hakone. Hakone is located within the walls of a dormant crater so many views are blocked, but Fuji is easily accessible through the tunnel running between Sengokuhara and Gotemba.
9. Walk the Tokaido
Once the center of power was moved from Kyoto to Edo, which became Tokyo, the Tokaido Road became the most important and historical road in Japan. Samurai, couriers, and famed historical figures traveled this road and would often stop in Hakone before descending to Tokyo. Hakone has some of the best preserved sections of the Tokaido Road in Japan. You can walk the whole route between Yumoto and Mishima or shorter beautiful sections like between the Amazake Tea House and the Sekisho Checkpoint on Lake Ashi.