Spirits live in all things, or so the Japanese believe. That’s why it’s no surprise when a hot spring fairy named Hakone-chan appears one day in modern-day Hakone hot springs. The anime Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan was produced to advertise Hakone, one of the most famous hot springs, as well as others in Japan. It’s a cute, short anime that follows Hakone-chan as she helps the locals, giving insight into the tourism in the area, and tries to regain her powers.
However, most anime fans will recognize Hakone as Tokyo-3 from the series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Of course, not everything in Hakone looks the same as in the anime, but if you climb up Mount Ashigara, you’ll see one of the most iconic scenes of Hakone at dusk from the show. There’s also the Kintoki Shrine, Lake Ashi, and Hakone Shrine’s red torii gate in the water (the location of Ramiel’s appearance). You can even find various Neon Genesis Evangelion goods and souvenir shops.
Hakone is well-known for its beautiful scenery. It has stunning views of Mount Fuji as well as close proximity to Tokyo. It’s one of the largest hot spring areas with numerous outdoor and indoor baths and dotted with both traditional Japanese inns and modern hotels. Even the imperial family has a summer house in Hakone! Aside from the wonderful hot springs and Neon Genesis Evangelion sites, Hakone boasts the Hakone Ekiden, a long distance foot race ran by college students, a few museums, and Owakudani geysers among other attractions.
|Location|| 256 Yumoto, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0398|
From Shinjuku in Tokyo, you can take the Odakyu line to Odawara and change tp the Hakone Tozan line to get to Hakone-Yumoto Station. For a little more, you can take a limited express train called the Romancecar which runs between Shinjuku and Hakone-Yumoto.
Purchasing the “Hakone Free Pass” allows visitors unlimited use of most types of transportation in the Hakone area, including the ropeway and cable car, and can be bought at many stations, including Shinjuku Station, Odawara Station, and Hakone-Yumoto Station.
|Cost of Admission||It’s free to go to Hakone, but it’ll cost a small fee to take a short dip in a hot spring.|
Hakone is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. The peak seasons are during cherry blossom season in spring and autumn leaves season in the fall as well as during Golden Week in May. However, while the prices may be high, the views of Mount Fuji from around Hakone are utterly spectacular. Many visitors enjoy taking a nice, long soak in the indoor baths while taking in those breathtaking views.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics fast approaching, Hakone caters to all tourists, even if they can’t speak Japanese. Most tourists visit Hakone for a relaxing day-trip or weekend getaway. There’s plenty of sightseeing and hiking that can be done all around the hot spring town. Art lovers will enjoy the rotating collections in some of the Hakone museums, a current collection being of The Little Prince. Be prepared for a slow-paced, relaxing time.
Aside from the Neon Genesis Evangelion goods you can buy, Hakone is famous for the kuro-tamago, or boiled black egg. It’s only available in Owakudani which can be easily accessed by the Hakone Ropeway. Some locals believe that eating one gives you an extra year of life!
It’s cheaper to reserve a room at a traditional inn or hotel during the week. One perk of doing this is unlimited access to the hotel’s hot springs during their opening times.
If you have tattoos, most inns and hotels won’t let you enter the baths. However, the spa resort Yunessun welcomes travelers from all over to enjoy all kinds of baths, including wine and sake baths, by wearing swimsuits and covering their tattoos. Those without tattoos are welcome to strip down and soak in some of the more traditional baths as well. Also, you can soak your feet at the Hakone Open-Air Museum!
Not only Neon Genesis Evangelion and Hakone-chan fans will love Hakone. Anyone who has ever seen a hot spring in an anime will enjoy the nice, long communal soak while Japan’s beauty washes over them. It’s an experience that’s not found in many other countries. If you want a cool day-trip out of Tokyo, this is the place to go!