Highlights of Hakone: The Joy of the Unexpected

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I won’t lie, I first discovered Hakone by googling ‘weekend trips from Tokyo’. As it turns out, Hakone frequently tops lists as one of the best day trips from Tokyo. Why? My guess is because it’s less than two hours away, and it also sits in the volcanically active Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. So Hakone is surrounded by two things – mountains and the smell of egg onsens (hot springs). And that’s pretty much all anyone needs in life right there.


With only 60 miles between them, Hakone (箱根) in Kanagawa Prefecture, is a fluffier, airier, greener neighbour of bustling Tokyo.  If your time in Tokyo has become a tribute to the Flight of the Concords’ Inner-city Pressure, then spending some time in Hakone may indeed help you to reconnect with your inner-mountain goat.


What Can You Do in Hakone?

Hakone is the perfect place to get chubby on ramen and relax, or climb hills and get glutes. It’s up to you. The most popular attractions in Hakone are Lake Ashi, the sulphurous crater of Owakudani, Hakone-jinga Shrine, Gora Park, the Open Air Museum, and as I mentioned briefly earlier, egg onsens. (Joking aside, kuro-tamago (black eggs) actually are an attraction in Owakudani).

Hakone visit
Lake Ashi, Hakone


Hakone visit
Above Owakudani, Hakone


Hakone jinga
Hakone-jinga, Hakone


Hakone visit
Gora Park, Hakone


Hakone visit
Open Air Museum, Hakone


Too Much Googling of a Place Isn’t Good. Google It.

I stayed in Hakone for one night and I was shocked at how many tourists were wandering around. Like zombies from Resident Evil, who had released them? Why was I surprised? What exactly was I expecting after going to the “number one day trip spot”? LOL. What. An. Idiot.


Anyway, despite having residence in Japan, I am a tourist and look like a tourist most of the time. So… I’ll probably just move on and distract you from this massively hypocritical section now…


Despite my tourist body and my tourist face, when I am visiting somewhere new, I actually prefer to plan nothing improvise as much as possible. Once upon a time, I worried that a lack of planning would lead me to miss something. Now however, my biggest fear is not fully appreciating something. Sadly, I was an ungrateful bastard at some points in Hakone. I think I was desensitised by the vast amount of Google images I had seen beforehand. Perhaps this is normal after being over-exposed to something? Or perhaps I really am an ungrateful trout?


My Hakone mood reminded me of something my younger brother once said – “Why would I visit somewhere when I  can Google it”. Lols…


But Ha-ko-ne, You Still Surprise Me

Undoubtedly Hakone is stunning and if you can, it’s certainly worth a visit. During my two days there, I found the most joy/humour in the unexpected. Apparently, as long as ‘the unexpected’ is multi-coloured, fluffy or funny, I am happy. Below are the picture highlights from my ‘on the beaten path’ trip.


1. Being Trolled By a Cat Near Lake Ashi

cat lake ash hakone



2. The Symphonic Structure by Gabriel Loire, in the Open Air Museum

Symphonic Structure Open Air Museum



3. The Flowers, Plants and Trees of the Greenhouses in Gora Park

leaves hakone gora park

flowers hakone

leaves hakone gora park


4. The Luminous Yellow of the Sulphur Mines




5. Peculiar Placement of a Cleaning Cloth…

open air museum hakone



6. Mossy Pathways Around Hakone-jinga

moss hakone


pathway hakone


7. Finding a Mini Rock-beach by Walking Through a Bush

lake ashi

lake ashi



How extensive is your travel planning? Do you project manage the trips? Or do you prefer to make it up as you go along?

2 thoughts on “Highlights of Hakone: The Joy of the Unexpected

  1. I am a big supporter of spontaneity while travelling. I completely agree that enjoyment becomes less when you are overexposed to something, it’s only human I think. That said I think a little prep should be done for every trip. Glad your enjoying Japan tammers, need to come spontaneously visit soon!

    1. Hey Deni, Yesssss! I won’t be googling to death in future. I guess my preference would be for someone else to do the planning so that I don’t have to see any images beforehand but still get to experience everything *face palms* haha. I’m a lazy trout. I hope you can come and visit soon too! You would surely love it here!

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