Hakone Onsen is hands down the best natural hot spring area in Japan, a perfect getaway for families, couples, and friends groups.
Most of the natural hot spring baths are owned by hotels, so you can experience them by staying in one. If you are just visiting for a day trip, many public hot springs baths offer a Day Trip plan as well.
In this guide, I will be breaking down the best hot spring area in Hakone and the best place to stay.
This post contains affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links in this blog post at no additional cost to you. These earnings will help maintain the website.
Best Hakone Onsen Areas
There are 5 major onsen areas in Hakone. I have compiled the highlights, hotels, and key information of each area in the list below.
Hakone-Yumoto and Tonosawa Area
Yumoto / Tonosawa area is the oldest and the most well-known hot spring area in Hakone. It is also considered the gateway to Hakone.
There are two important landmarks: Hakone Yumoto Station and Tonosawa Station. The hot springs and hotels can be found around these two stations.
Yumoto is the busiest area with the most hot springs and places to stay. It is also packed with restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops where you can enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine and culture.
Miyanoshita and Kowakidani Area
If you want a more low-key getaway location, then this location might be better for you. Miyanoshita is located halfway up Mt. Hakone at an altitude of 430m.
This area was developed as one of Japan’s leading resort areas during the Meiji period. The area offers different experiences in each season. You can hiking in the valley and enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, fireflies in summer, and autumn leaves in autumn.
Gora is a great location if you want quick access to the Hakone Ropeway. The area is located in the center of Hakone and is surrounded by famous tourist attractions, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
If you decide to stay here, make sure to take the ropeway up to Owakudani Valley. This is a great place to enjoy the magnificent scenery that represents Hakone, with volcanic smoke and the smell of sulfur that makes you feel the breath of the Earth itself.
Sengokuhara is a perfect getaway if you want to spend a peaceful time and enjoy nature. This highland area sits at the outer rim of Hakone, closest to Mt. Fuji.
The area is best known for “Susuki Grassland” where the colony of Japanese pampas grass grows on the slopes of the mountain.
Aside from highland resorts, restaurants, and cafes, this area is also known for several unique art museums as well.
Lake Ashinoko Area
If staying in a lakeside resort surrounded by Mt. Hakone and a view of Mt. Fuji is your kind of place, then this is the area for you.
Aside from many unique hot springs to choose from, this area is unique from the others because it is packed with activities you can enjoy. Here are some activities offered in this area: sightseeing boats, water skiing, and helicopter tour.
Interesting fact, Lake Ashinoko is actually a caldera lake of the Hakone volcano.
Best Hotels in Hakone with Private Onsen
For me, the best way to get the most out of the hot spring experience in Hakone is to go for a private hot spring bath. It’s just you, warm soothing natural hot spring water, and a stunning view of nature. This way, you can really let go of yourself and achieve a maximum relaxing state.
In this list, I have compiled the best hotels that feature private hot spring baths in the room.
Hakone Ashinoko Hanaori
Area: Lake Ashinoko
Hakone Kowakien Tenyu
Hakone Gora Karaku
Centurian Hakone Bettei
Fun Things to Do in Hakone
There are so many fun places and activities you will find enjoyable in Hakone. In this list, I have gathered some of the places and activities that I believe will give you unique experiences.
For the well-known major tourist attractions, you can find more details from Hakone’s official tourism association.
Go for the Forest Adventure
If you love outdoor activities and want a more active activity, then give this forest adventure a try!
- Business hours: 9:00-16:00 (last reception 15:30) *Varies depending on the weather and season.
- Address: 749-1 Chanohana, Yumoto, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
- Website: https://fa-hakone.foret-aventure.jp/
Visit cu-mo Hakone
Cu-mo Hakone is an observation station that sits at an altitude of 757m on Mt. Hakone. You can get here by using Hakone Ropeway. The best way to enjoy this place is by dipping your feet in the foot onsen while enjoying the breathtaking view of the entire Hakone.
- Access: From Hakone-Yumoto Station, take the Hakone Tozan Line for about 40 minutes, transfer to Gora Station, and take the Hakone Tozan Cable Car (bound for Sounzan) for about 10 minutes and get off at Sounzan Station.
- Website: https://www.hakoneropeway.co.jp/cu-mo-hakone/
Journey through Owakudani Valley
You can see the Earth itself breathing in this place. Owakudani Valley is the aftermath of a phreatic explosion (steam-driven explosion) in the past. You can visit this location using Hakone Ropeway and get off at Owakudani Station.
Have you ever thought what would happen if you use this “breath of the Earth” to steam an egg? No? Well, these people did. And you can try them here as well.
Visit Susuki Grassland
This is the most famous pampas grass destination in Japan. In my opinion, the best season to visit this place is in Autumn when the grass usually changes its color.
- Access: From Odawara Station, take a bus bound for Kojiri Togendai and get off at Sengokuhara.
Visit the Skyshrine (Hokane Motomiya Shrine)
Hakone Motomiya shrine sits at the summit of Mt. Komagatake at an altitude of 1356 meters. You can reach here by hiking up the mountain or taking the Hakone Komagata Ropeway.
- Access: Hakone Komagatake Ropeway
- Operating hours: [First train] 9:00 (up), [Last] 16:30 (up) / 16:50 (down) *Every 20 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes every hour
- Fare: [Round trip] Adult 1,800 / Child 900, [One way ] Adult 1,000 / Child 500
- Address: 139 Motohakone, Hakone Town, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture
- Ropeway Info: https://www.princehotels.co.jp/amuse/hakone-en/ropeway/
- Shrine Info: https://www.princehotels.co.jp/amuse/hakone-en/ropeway/fun/shrine.html
Where exactly is Hakone?
Hakone is an area around Mount Hakone situated between Yokohama and Shizuoka facing Sagami Bay. Hakone is located in Kanagawa prefecture. With many exceptional hotels and ryokan in the area, you can find many natural hot spring baths with views of Mount Fuji.
The hot springs water here is rich in minerals, and there are hundreds of bathes to discover in the area each with their own qualities, history, and appeal.
Have a great Hakone Onsen Trip!
What sets Hakone apart from other Onsen spots in Japan is the quality of the natural hot spring, the stunning view of the mountains and the lake, and many exciting places to visit.
Choosing the right place to stay and planning what to do are crucial to making your trip a meaningful and memorable one.
I hope this guide helps you in planning your journey to Hakone, and best of luck on your Onsen Trip!