Travel to Hakone to experience one of the most relaxing baths you’ll ever have in your life. This town is known for its Mt. Fuji sightseeing spots and hot spring resorts called Onsens. Water from these hot springs is considered to be special because of their healing properties.
Staying overnight is ideal, but if you only have a day, there are some resorts that also welcome daytrippers. Be warned though that bathing in communal baths also means overcoming your shyness to go naked in the presence of strangers. If this is not an issue, then plan a pampering date at Hakone’s 10 Most Relaxing Onsens:
Gora Kadan (強羅花壇)
Hakone’s high-end ryokan Gora Kadan is a long-time member of the esteemed group Relais & Chateaux, a global association of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. Housed in a summer villa formerly owned by a member of the Imperial Family, expect nothing less than exquisite ambiance and pampering. There are only 38 suites in the property each with its own balcony and private bath. It has two wells that feed its mineral-rich open-air bath, while the in-house spa offers a wide selection of massage services to complement the spring’s therapeutic effects. Very exclusive and intimate, Gora Kadan is the ideal getaway to de-stress the mind and body.
Address: 1300 Gora, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 50,000 ~ (2 person rate/room/night, tax not yet included)
Hakone Suishoen (翠松園)
Hakone Suishoen combines the best of traditional Japanese hospitality with the stunning scenery of Hakone’s mountainside. Built in 1925, this ryokan was once the country home of the aristocratic Mitsui clan and to this day retains the elegance for which the property was known for. All 23 rooms in this resort feature stylish details, comfortable beddings, top of the line amenities, and open-air hot spring baths. Its unsurpassed luxury goes beyond its facilities. Guests can also indulge in gourmet dining and personalized service all throughout their stay.
Address: 519-9 Kowakidani, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 40,500 ~ (per head/night)
Hoshino Resort Kai Hakone (星野リゾート 界 箱根)
Kai is a chain of hot spring resorts operated by Hoshino Resorts. It currently has 14 branches all over Japan, and the one in Hakone is a charming modern ryokan situated by the Sukumo River. Rooms are blessed with the sights and sounds of its riverbanks while inside, a spacious tatami-floored living room, low mattresses, and fluffy pillows treat guests to a minimalist but elegant environment. A very Zen-like feel permeates the entire establishment with the buildings integrating open spaces and bamboo corridors into its design. Strolling around it in yukata is by itself already a nice break from the outside world, and as you reach the ground floor of the main building, you’ll find the best part of staying at Kai Hakone. There await two large semi-open Onsens (one for each gender) for a soothing and therapeutic bath.
Address: 230 Yumotochaya, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ~ ¥ 33,000 (per room/night)
The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko
This 5-star hotel combines in one location the best things about Hakone: hot springs, Mt. Fuji, and Lake Ashi. This scenic lake with Mt. Fuji in the background is Hakone’s representative view, which makes it the site of many sightseeing boat cruises that travel between its north and south shores. In its quieter parts, The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko sits in the midst of verdant scenery, looking impressive from the outside as well as indoors. Hotel facilities include an in-house spa, a souvenir shop, a small shopping plaza, and an open hot spring pool, which is also open to day visitors from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. For dining options, there are three restaurants to choose from. Nadaman Gaden is a traditional Japanese restaurant that serves Kaiseki-style meals. Le Trianon serves French cuisine in an opulent indoor setting, while Yamaboushi is a lounge area for coffee, tea, and a slice of cake. Rooms, on the other hand, are all Western-style with a selection of three different views: Mt. Fuji, the lake, or woodlands.
Address: 144 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 49,420 ~ (per room/night)
Fujiya Hotel is one of Japan’s oldest and grandest hotels. Founded in 1878, it hosted an impressive list of notable people in Japan and from across the globe. To name a few – celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and John Lennon, royalties such as Britain’s Prince Albert (George VI), and of course, Japan’s past and present Emperor and Empress.
The hotel is a complex of five buildings, four of which are all registered as important cultural assets. The Main Building is the compound’s oldest structure, dating back to 1891 and featuring an East-meets-West aesthetic. Inside, time is likewise preserved through impeccable interior styling with a preference for vintage and timeless décor. On the flipside, the passage of time is evident in over a century’s worth of guestbooks, signatures, and other memorabilia, which are showcased at the hotel’s museum.
It goes without saying that a night’s stay at Fujiya Hotel is a stellar experience. Room style and ambiance differ across the five properties, though the majority of which are Western-style. For the Onsen experience, hot natural spring water freely flows into each of the rooms’ bath tubs. There are communal and bookable hot springs facilities as well.
Address: 359 Miyanoshita, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 8,316 ~ (per person/night, tax not yet included)
Aura Tachibana (あうら 橘)
Conveniently located near Hakone Yumoto Station, Aura Tachibana is a perfect base for explorations around Hakone. It is a modern ryokan where guests can enjoy fresh mountain air, comfortable lodgings, delicious food, and a nice warm soak at the Onsen after a tiring day of sightseeing. Rooms are a choice between Semi-Western and Japanese styles, while upgraded suites come with a private open-air bath. There are, of course, same-gender communal baths, and as an additional treat, the building has an open roof deck area to take in the area’s surrounding beauty at any time of the day.
Address: 574 Yumoto, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 16,350 ~ (per room/night)
Hakone Yumoto Onsen Yaeikan (結いの宿 彌榮館)
Still within the vicinity of Hakone Yumoto Station but in a more secluded location is this quaint property by the river. Hakone Yumoto Onsen Yaeikan promises nothing too extravagant, but if traditional Japanese hospitality and classic Onsen experience are the main items on your checklist, then this place will more than satisfy your prerequisites. The 19 rooms are spacious tatami accommodations equipped with futons, a low table, satellite TV, refrigerator, and an air conditioner. There are indoor and outdoor Onsens, as well as private baths that are available for reservation. To complete the ryokan experience, meals are served with seasonal ingredients in mind. However, make sure that the “with meals” option is what you select upon reservation.
Address: 484 Yumoto, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 13,000 ~ (per room/night)
Tenzan Tohji Kyo (天山箱根)
Multiple baths of varying mineral properties, sizes, temperatures, and layouts draw the crowd to Tenzan Tohji Kyo. It is only a 10-minute bus or taxi ride from Hakone Yumoto Station, but its mountainside environment feels like a world away from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. While overnight lodgings are also offered, this resort is popular among day trippers because of its convenient location, reasonable price, and complimentary facilities like tatami resting areas, restaurant, and a café. If you want to encounter fewer people during your visit, it is best that you schedule your trip on a weekday. Otherwise, expect to share the pools with a lot of people.
Address: 208 Yumotochaya, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 9000 ~ (per room/night), Day trip ¥ 1300
Website: http://tenzan.jp (Japanese only)
Kappa Tengoku (かっぱ天国)
For a no-frills Onsen experience, there’s Kappa Tengoku. Just a 3-minute walk from Hakone Yumoto station, it is the most accessible and budget-friendly choice available in the area. Facilities include segregated open-air baths, a bookable indoor private bath, and a foot bath. When you just want to squeeze in a couple of hours for relaxation while sightseeing in Hakone, this place should do the trick.
Address: 777 Yumoto Hakone machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Price: Overnight stay from ¥ 3,000 ~ (per head/night), Day trip ¥ 800
Website: http://www.kappa1059.co.jp (Japanese only)
Yunessun Hot Springs Resort and Spa (箱根小涌園ユネッサン)
Yunessun is the amusement park of Onsens. It’s known for its quirky line-up of unique baths from pools spiked with wine and sake to non-alcoholic options like green tea and coffee. There are 18 of these interesting indoor and outdoor attractions, all of which are swimsuit wearing areas. At the same time, there’s also a classic hot springs area where naked bathing applies. These two bathing zones have separate entrance fee rates, but if you want to enjoy both, there’s an all-access package as well.
Address: 1297 Ninotaira, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Traditional Onsen Day Rate (Adult – ¥ 1,900; Child – ¥ 1,200)
Swimsuit Bathing Areas Day Rate (Adult – ¥ 2,900; Child – ¥ 1,600)
All Access Day Rate (Adult – ¥ 4,100; Child – ¥ 2,100)
Website: http://www.yunessun.com/ (Japanese only)
Price information in this article is as of October 2016.
Thumbnail is from Flickr.