Soothing Springs and Scenic Stays: Your Guide to Hakone's Best Ryokan

Soothing Springs and Scenic Stays: Your Guide to Hakone's Best Ryokan

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Hakone, renowned as Japan's premier hot spring destination, is a must-visit for those seeking an authentic onsen experience. Often heard among international visitors is the desire to indulge in a luxurious ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn) in Hakone, even if just for a day. Are you considering a winter getaway to this enchanting locale?

Nestled west of Tokyo, Hakone captivates with its blend of lush natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, earning its reputation as the "Hometown of Japan's Hot Springs." Its strategic location offers a mesmerizing tapestry of seasonal landscapes and a diverse variety of hot springs. More than just a place to experience Japanese traditions, Hakone is a perfect retreat, just a 90-minute drive from the hustle of Tokyo. Join us on a journey of rejuvenation as we explore the allure of Hakone's serene charm.

Gift from Nature for Healing the Soul


Located at the base of Mount Fuji, Hakone, often referred to as Japan's "Back Garden," is celebrated for its rich and varied hot springs, known as "Hakone's Seventeen Hot Springs." This area boasts the largest concentration of hot springs in Japan, featuring around 20 types, including sulfur mineral and bicarbonate springs. Each spring is renowned for its unique healing properties: sulfur springs are believed to aid skin ailments and neuralgia, while bicarbonate springs are noted for improving blood circulation and easing fatigue. In Hakone, a dip in these thermal waters transcends mere relaxation—it's a holistic healing journey for both body and soul.

The historical roots of Hakone Onsen stretch back over a millennium. Originally discovered by monks who revered these springs for spiritual purification, they gained nationwide fame during the era of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's conquest of Odawara. In the subsequent Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods, the onsen attracted a myriad of intellectuals, artists, and international celebrities.

Today, Hakone Onsen stands as one of Japan's most iconic hot spring destinations. Visitors from around the globe flock here to bask in the rejuvenating springs, immersing themselves in the serene ambiance. Whether soaking in the warm embrace of the springs or wandering the ever-changing mountain trails, guests at Hakone Onsen find themselves enveloped in an atmosphere of tranquil beauty and mystery.

The Best Place to Pamper Yourself


Hakone Onsen, a haven of warmth and tranquility, stands as the ideal destination for those seeking a respite from the rapid pace of modern life. In today's fast-moving society, finding a moment to slow down is a luxury, and Hakone Onsen offers the perfect setting to fully embrace this much-needed pause.

Scattered across Hakone are a myriad of hot spring hotels and resorts, ranging from traditional ryokan to contemporary establishments. Yet, they all share a common thread of quintessential Japanese style. These accommodations are more than just a place to stay; they are an immersive experience, harmoniously integrated with the natural landscape. Many feature private rotenburo (open-air baths), allowing guests to soak in the breathtaking vistas of mountains and waters. The experience is further enriched with authentic Japanese cuisine, traditional tea ceremonies, and yukata culture, transporting visitors to a time of ancient Japanese mystique. To truly savor the essence of Hakone, consider extending your stay and immersing yourself in its timeless allure.

Top 5 Hot Spring Hotels

Hakone's renowned Seventeen Hot Springs and its myriad hot spring hotels are predominantly situated in four distinct areas: Yumoto, Gora, Sengokuhara, and Lake Ashi. Each area boasts its unique geographical features and scenic beauty, offering a diverse range of experiences to suit your preferences and travel itinerary. Here are the top 5 recommended hot spring hotels in Hakone, Japan–each a destination in itself, promising luxury and indulgence.

1. Ichiitei (一井亭)

Steeped in tradition, Ichiitei is a quintessential Japanese ryotei inn, celebrated for its rich history and distinctive architectural style. Here, guests are invited to immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture within spacious tatami rooms. The inn's culinary highlight is its exquisite kaiseki cuisine, served for both breakfast and dinner. This refined dining experience showcases fresh local ingredients, artfully combining traditional and modern cooking techniques to capture the essence of Japan's seasonal beauty. The essence of kaiseki lies in the meticulous attention to detail, a testament to the chef's dedication and artistry. A visit to Japan is incomplete without indulging in this dual sensory delight, a feast for both the palate and the eyes.

For reservations: https://www.ichiitei.com/room03.html#w05
Access: From either Odawara or Hakone-Yumoto, take a bus to Sengoku-Kogen Station. From here, the accommodation is just a 7-min walk.

2. Hakone Ginyu

2.pngEsteemed as a pinnacle of luxury in Japanese-style accommodations, Hakone Ginyu is often dubbed "the most difficult hotel to book in Japan." Situated in a valley 420 meters above sea level, it boasts a prime location with the serene Hayakawa Valley below and the majestic Hakone Mountains as a backdrop. Each room's terrace offers an uninterrupted view of the creek, providing guests with a chance to savor nature's beauty in every season, both day and night.

Hakone Ginyu's artistically designed rooms and outdoor hot springs are a haven for those seeking to escape the bustle of everyday life. The experience is elevated by the exquisite cuisine that embodies the spirit of Japanese hospitality. Nearby attractions such as Taikouyu Hot Spring, Hakone Miyanoshita Onsen, and the Hakone Open-Air Museum add to the allure, making a stay here not just a retreat, but a journey into Japan's artistic and natural wonders.

Official website: https://www.hakoneginyu.co.jp
Access: Take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Miyanoshita, followed by a 3-minute walk.

3. Hakone Toki no Shizuku5.pngEmphasizing serenity and a deep connection with nature, Hakone Toki no Shizuku offers an intimate experience, accommodating only 8 groups per day, thus ensuring a highly private and exclusive stay. The hotel's rooms, adorned in warm whites and wood tones, exude simplicity and comfort. A standout feature is attached hot spring cypress open-air bath, perfect for unwinding with a glass of wine while soaking up the expansive natural vistas.

Beyond the comforts of the hotel, the area is rich with attractions. A leisurely 12-minute walk takes you to the Hakone Open-Air Museum, and a 22-minute stroll leads to the picturesque Gora Park.

Official website:http://www.tokinoshizuku.net/ga/
Access: Take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Miyanoshita Station. A shuttle bus will take you to the hotel.

4. Hakone Pax Yoshino

4.pngIdeally located in Hakone, this hotel is a perfect base for travelers eager to explore, allowing for the convenient storage of luggage before embarking on sightseeing adventures. Hakone Pax Yoshino boasts a blend of luxurious and modern interiors, celebrated for its elegant architectural style. During their stay, guests can indulge in the hotel's hot springs and entertainment facilities. The Japanese banquet cuisine is a highlight, featuring fresh seafood paired with local Hakone delicacies, capturing the essence of the region's culinary culture. For moments of relaxation, the hotel offers "Sora," a serene resting area where guests can unwind and enjoy views of Mount Yusaka. Families are well catered for at Hakone Pax Yoshino. With a dedicated children's area, parents can relax and enjoy the baths knowing their little ones are entertained and safe.

Official website: https://www.pax-yoshino.com/tw/
Access: 12-minute walk from Hakone-Yumoto Station. A shuttle bus is also available.

5. Gora Kadan

3.pngGora Kadan stands as a symbol of the seamless fusion of tradition and luxury in a hot spring hotel. Perched on an elevated platform in Hakone, this hotel is a visual feast with its magnificent garden and distinctive architectural space.

The spacious guest rooms at Gora Kadan are complemented by well-appointed hot spring baths. The dining experience here is equally unique, set in a Western-style building that retains a regal, aristocratic ambiance. Guests can savor seasonal kaiseki cuisine, renowned for its exquisite flavors and presentation. This creates an atmosphere that is deeply appreciated by guests who seek both refinement and exceptional service. For a touch of leisure, indulge in a special drink from the hotel bar, a perfect way to unwind and shake off any fatigue. Gora Kadan invites you to enjoy its offerings in your own way.

Official website: https://www.gorakadan.com
Access: Take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Gora Station, followed by a 3-minute walk.

More Than Just Hot Springs


Hakone's allure extends far beyond its celebrated hot springs, with its natural landscape often being an underappreciated gem.

The region is a tapestry of seasonal changes: spring brings a burst of pink cherry blossoms, summer is marked by verdant greens, autumn is aglow with red maples and golden Sengokuhara miscanthus, and winter transforms the landscape into a snowy, fairytale-like wonderland. Each season bestows upon Hakone a distinct and vibrant hue.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Hakone offers a plethora of activities. Hiking up the mountains provides breathtaking panoramic views of Mount Fuji, while leisurely strolls by Lake Ashi are a must. This crater lake, formed from an eruption of Mount Hakone 3,000 years ago, offers stunning vistas where Mount Fuji, the lake, and the iconic red torii gate harmoniously converge, especially on clear days.


Culturally, Hakone is equally rich. The Hakone Museum of Art and the POLA Art Museum are treasure troves for art lovers, showcasing masterpieces spanning various eras and styles. Additionally, numerous temples and the famous Hakone Shrine, known for blessing visitors with wealth and good fortune, enrich the spiritual experience. 

In essence, Hakone Onsen is more than just a hot spring retreat; it's a sanctuary of natural beauty and tranquility. Here, you can escape the hustle of daily life, envelop yourself in nature's embrace, and let the soothing hot springs carry the passage of time. Let your journey to Hakone be one of warmth, healing, and serene reflection.

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