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Hakone Guide: Sightseeing × Vegan Food


If you ever travel to Japan, one must-visit spot in order to experience the Japanese culture is Hakone, a town not far from Tokyo in the mountains and famous for their onsen, or hot springs. As Hakone is only a short trip away from Tokyo, it is definitely worth going there for 2-3 day trip.

A rainy day near Hakone Yumoto Station with cherry blossoms.

Even though this magical place is full of tourists, vegan options are still limited. Therefore, in this guide I am going to not only line out what to do there but also introduce a few vegan options so that you do not have to worry about food at all.


By the way, if you plan on traveling to Kyoto as well, definitely check out my super detailed Sightseeing x Vegan Food Guides for Kyoto!


My vegan food guide for Japan in general is also very useful as it teaches you what foods are generally save, where you can always find vegan options and useful vocabulary.


Access to Hakone from Tokyo

A green and white train at a Japanese train station.

These are the easiest ways to get to Hakone from Tokyo:

  1. Odakyu Railway (Shinjuku Station - Hakone-Yumoto Station):

Express: 2470¥ (no transfer); Slower express train (kyūko): 1270¥ (transfers in Odawara)

  1. Local or rapid trains form the JR Tokaido Main Line (1500¥), 70-90min

You could also go by Shinkansen till Odawara and transfer there.


You might also want to think about getting the Hakone Free Pass. It covers the round trip from Shinjuku, transportation in Hakone and includes discounts in many places. For more information on it, check out this link: https://www.odakyu.jp/english/discountpass/hakone-freepass/


About Hakone

A street at Hakone lined with souvenir shops.

Hakone has a long-reaching history. Already during Edo Period (1603-1867) people crossed the mountain path of Hakone as part of the Tokaido highway on their way to the capital Edo (today Tokyo), where they underwent inspections. Because walking up the steep mountain was exhausting for people who mostly went by foot, the years after establishing the Hakone Checkpoint (which btw can still be visited) locals started to operate teahouses in the Kodaira area between the post town Hakone and Hatajuku where they sold tea, amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink) and light meals.


source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=hakone+onsen&title=Special:MediaSearch&go=Go&type=image

Today, Hakone is popular for its many relaxing hot springs, or onsen 温泉 in Japanese. If the weather is nice, you can even have a glimpse at Mt. Fuji!



Sightseeing


Lake Ashi

Photo of a lake on a rainy day with a sign saying Lake Ashi

Nearest Station: Hakone-machi


Lake Ashi was formed around 3000 years ago when Mt. Kami erupted and is the symbol of Hakone. It is up to 43.5m deep and has a circumference of 19km.


Photo of lake Ashi with a boat in the back

The lake also plays a big role in local legends, for example the of Mangan Shoin who was a priest and is credited as the founder of Hakone Shrine. Apparently in 757 CE he had vision in which he was told to buy a sencturary by lake Ashi. But this turned out to be rather difficult, as a dragon terrorized the place and locals were sarcrifing local girls by the shore to appease him. However, Mangan prayed for three days and nights on a stone slab in the water until the dragon finally gave up and apologized. But because this didn’t satisfy Mangan, he tied the dragon to a sakasasugi (cryptomeria trees that a landslide had swept unto the water upright and which was stuck to the bottom of the lake). Through this, the dragon transformed to a Kuzuryu, a nine-headed dragon god and pledged to protect the land as long as the locals would honor him with an annual prayer. The sakasasugi is still in the lake. Where Mangan is said to have sat to pray is makes with a red toil gate off the shore near Kuzuryu shrine, where the annual prayer is still performed on July 31, during the Kosui Festival.


Photo of lake Ashi through a window


Hakone Sightseeing Cruise


Area: Lake Ashi

Nearest Station: Hakone-machi


If you want to enjoy the beautiful view around Lake Ashi, you can cruise the lake on a sightseeing boat which takes about 25-40 min from Togendai-ko to Hakone-machi-ko or Moto-Hakone-ko.

What makes this ride special is that the ship looks like a pirate ship from the outside and inside, so it might be especially great when travelling with kids.


Photo of the pirate sightseeing cruise on lake Ashi

Check out this link for more detailed information on the stations and timetables:


Fare:
Hours:

first ship leaves at 09:30 from Hakone-machi Port and the last one at 16:20 from Togendai port.

Telephone Number of Hakone Sightseeing Cruise:

+81+0460837722

Address:

161 Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0521, Japan

Website:


Hakone Shrine

Hakone Shrine

Area: Lake Ashi

Nearest bu


s station: Hakone-jinja-iriguchi 150 (Hakone Tozan Bus Line H and K bound to Motohakone/Hakonemachi)


If you google Hakone, one of the first pictures you come across is the red torii gate (heiwa no torii, red gates of peace) of Hakone Shrine inside of Lake Ashi.


The Torii of Hakone Shrine inside Lake Ashi

The shrine was built in 757 and apparently many military commanders went there to pray, which made the shrine famous in Japan. Tourists have come to there as well in order to pray for a save trip.



If you want to learn more about Hakone Shrine, you can visit it’s treasure house (Homotsuden) or if you rather be immersed in the traditional Japanese atmosphere, check out some of the monthly and seasonally festivals and celebrations there. During the Ashinoko Summer Festival Week from the end of July to the beginning of August you can experience huge fireworks there.


If you plan on taking pictures with the torii, be aware that you most likely have to wait in line for quite a while because so many tourists are there for that.


Hakone Shrines torii and a long queue of people in front

Opening Hours:

Shrine: 24h

Treasure House: 09:00 - 16:30, last admission 16:00

Address:

Kanagawa, Ashigarashimo, Hakone, Motohakone 80-1

Website (Japanese only):


The Hakone Open Air Museum

Sign saying The Hakone Open-Air Museum

Nearest Stations:

Train: Chokoku-no-Mori Station (Hakone Tozan Railway)

Bus: Ninotaira-iriguchi bus stop (Bus H, J or Z from Hakone Yumoto or Odawara Station)

Check out this link for a more detailed explanation: https://www.hakone-oam.or.jp/en/about/?id=995001


A train station with a painted landscape in the back

The Hakone Open Air Museum is a fun outdoor museum with lots to discover and fun photos to take!

There are also indoor exhibits like for example a Picasso collection, pieces for Brancusi, Giacometti and other artists.


A white building that reads Picasso

While walking from one building to the other, you can discover cool sculptures and other art pieces in the wide park.



My favourite was a huge pink cat called Kobayashi!


A huge pink cat behind trees

There are also temporary exhibitions, so check out the website for more information on that.


To see all the exhibits, check out this link: https://www.hakone-oam.or.jp/en/permanent/


Opening Hours:

09:00 - 17:00 (last admission 16:30)

Address:

1121 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407, Japan

Website:

Check out this link for more museums in Hakone: https://hakone-japan.com/things-to-do/museums/



Onsen

Picture of flooding water in a river

The main reason people travel to Hakone are the hot springs or onsen, which derive from volcanos and have lots of healing properties for the body. The mountain city has especially many of them with lots of varietey. There are ones from which you can see the mountains, private ones, ones for couples, for families aned more.


The water in Hakones onsen is heated naturally and contains different properties and characteristics by passing though various geological areas and therefore giving positive health qualities.


While you can enjoy it in most hotels, there are also specific ones people like to go. Check out this website for information about onesens to go to: https://hakone-japan.com/things-to-do/onsen/



The Hakone Tozan Train

Hakone Tozan train with hydrangea around it
source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=hakone+tozan+train&title=Special:MediaSearch&go=Go&type=image

Area: Hakone Yumoto

Access: Hakone Yumoto Station

Tip: If you plan on going to the Hakone Open Air Museum, you can go there using this train. So, it is easy to combine the both.


This unique train is really fun to ride. The special thing about it is that in order to go up or down the mountain and let the train which goes in opposite direction pass, it frequently stops to change direction! It’s like going up or down the mountain in a zig-zag. Definitely worth a ride! It’s especially nice during hydrangea season as they are super close to the window.


Fare:

around 460¥


Hakone Checkpoint

Hakone Checkpoint
source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=hakone+checkpoint&title=Special:MediaSearch&go=Go&type=image

Area: Hakone machi

Nearest Station: Hakone Tozan Bus Hakone Sekihoato (154)


Hakone Checkpoint used to one out of all in all 50 inspection facilities in Japan to keep Edo (former name of Tokyo) safe from weapons and is the only one that has been restored to its original state in 2007 using techniques and tools from that time. All in all it takes approximately 45 min to see everything.



Entrance Fee:

Adults 500¥, Children 250¥

Opening Hours:

09:00 - 17:00 (December - February till 16:30)

Address:

1番地 Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0521, Japan

Official Website:


Hakone Rope Way

A ropeway
source: source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=hakone&title=Special:MediaSearch&go=Go&type=image

Area: Hakonemachi, Lake Ashi

Nearest Stations: Souzan Station or Togendai Station


Tipp: Togendai Station is next to the pier of the sightseeing cruise, so it might be good to combine both on the same day.


Hakone has Japan’s longest ropeway ride, connecting Sōunzan Station with Toendai Station at the shore of Lake Ashino via Owakudani Station and Ubako Station. The gondolas depart every minute and the whole ride takes about 30 minutes. The special thing about this ride is the beautiful view of the active hot springs of Owakudani Valley. If you are lucky, you can even see Mt. Fuji!


Prices:

1500¥ one way, 2500¥ round trip. Free if you use the Hakone Free Pass.

Hours:

09:00 - 17:00 (December and January until 16:15)

Address:
Timetable:
Official Website:


 

Vegan Food

Vegan = V , Vegetarian = VG, Non-Vegan and Non-Vegetarian = NV


Shika-Jaya (NV, VG, V)

tofu, yamaimo dishes

Photo of tofu stew, rice and veggies

Location: near Hakone Yumoto Station


This traditional restaurant specializes in tofu and yamaimo (Japanese yams) dishes, which is perfect for all vegetarians and vegans, health-conscious people or people in general who want to try traditional Japanese food. While not everything is vegan or even vegetarian, the „Okabe Zen“ course is completely vegan and for other dishes it might be possible to make them vegetarian if you ask the staff. However, the staff speaks Japanese only.




Menue

Price range:

1930¥ - 3350¥

Opening Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 11:00 - 15:00 (last order 14:15); 16:30 - 19:30 (last order 18:45)

Wednesday: 11:00 - 15:00

Closed on Thursdays (open if public holiday)

Address:

640 Yumoto, Hakone-machi, Kanagawa-ken, Japan 250-0311

Tel.:

81-0460-85-5751(Calls can only be taken in Japanese)

808 Monsmare (NV, VG, V)

pizza

Pizza with lots of colorful veggies on top

Location: Near Hakone Yumoto Station.


Outside of 808 Monsmare in Hakone. People are lining up

This Italian-style restaurant has one vegan pizza option which varies from time to time depending on what vegetables are in season. The staff knew what vegan meant which is very useful. And the pizza was larger than expected and really delicious! Definitely a great option.



Menu of 808 Monsmare, Hakone

Price:

1780¥

Opening Hours:

Thursday - Monday: 11:00 - 14:30, 17:00 - 21:00

Closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays

Address:

698-10 Yumoto, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0311, Japan

Tel.:

08027880808 Website:


Hakone Shrine Gogen Karame Mochi 

mochi

5 kinds of mochi

Location: Hakone Shrine

This place within the vicinity of Hakone Shrine sells delicious mochi which are, with exception for the one called „oroshi“ (おろし) and the one with nori are vegan. You have to buy a ticket with the name of the mochi you want on a vending machine and hand it to the staff.


My friend and I asked them to use only soy sauce instead of a sauce with fish sauce on the nori mochi, but it’s much easier to just choose individual mochi instead of the 5-piece set. You can choose anko あんこ (sweet bean paste), kinako きなこ(a powered made from soy mixed with sugar) or goma ごま (sesame) as already vegan options.


Price range:

150¥ - 1000¥

Opening Hours:

10:00 - 17:00

Address:

80-1 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0522, Japan

Website:


Other restaurants/cafés with vegan options I haven’t been to:


Cafe Douce (NV, VG, V)

curry

Location: Gōra, Miyagino


According to Happy Cow, the vegetarian curry there is vegan, but better ask the staff just to be sure.


Opening Hours:

08:00 - 18:00 (closed on Tuesdays)

Address:

Japan, 〒250-0407 Kanagawa, Ashigarashimo District, Hakone, Ninotaira, 1143-42 コングレージュ彫刻の森102

Website:


Hakone Kappei (NV, VG, V)

sushi, tofu


Location: located near Chukoku-no-mori station on the Hakone Tozan line. Convenient when visiting the Hakone Open Air Museum or using the Hakone Tozan Train.


According to Happy Cow, this cafe has several vegan options marked on the menu, including sushi options, edamame, tofu and cucumber with a garlic miso paste.


Opening Hours:

09:00 - 20:00 (closed on Thursdays)

Address:

1143-49 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407, Japan

Website:

 

If you know any other vegan options in Hakone, please share them in the comments!


 

If you found this Hakone Sightseeing x Vegan Food Guide helpful and want to go to Kyoto as well, check out my Sightseeing x Vegan Food Guides for Kyoto here:


And my ultimate vegan food guide for Japan in general:



 

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