Fun Things To Do In Hakone With Kids

Visiting the Hakone region of Japan is a nice and easy excursion from urban sensory overload if you are visiting Tokyo.   Located only about a 100 kilometres away from the capitol, Hakone is a very popular destination for both Japanese and international tourists to revel in some beautiful countryside.   There are lots of fun things to do in Hakone with kids and it shows a very different side of Japan.

Some fun things to do in Hakone in Japan with kids

Some Fun Things To Do With Kids in Hakone

The best thing we found we did was actually just to go hiking.  We wandered around some of the trails, hopping on and off the train which runs regularly to visit some of the little towns and generally had a good time exploring.  Although the leaves had started changing, we did not have the full colour of autumn in the mountains of Japan which is a spectacular sight to behold.

7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids

7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids

Here are some other things to do that add more structure to your time in Hakone:

The Town of Moto Hakone

The Hakone Shrine is located in the little town of Moto Hakone and is surrounded by woodland.  You can see the tori gate for the Hakone Shrine from the lake.  Moto Hakone also has a giant tori gate as an entrance to the town itself.  The pirate ships that cross Lake Ashi dock at Moto Hakone.  Moto Hakone also has part of the old Tokaido Highway which was an important route during the Edo period of Japanese history.  It is lined with hundreds of cedar trees planted in 1618.

7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
A giant tori gate
7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
Moto Hakone is full of little hidden gems.

Moto Hakone is supposed to have great views of Mt Fuji.  By the time we reached the town though, the mists had rolled in and night was falling.

7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
Hidden by the clouds is Mt Fuji

Cross Lake Ashinoko

This lake is a volcanic crater lake which has beautiful views of the surrounding forested mountains. The lake has lodging options as well as cute little row boats and swan boats that you can hire.

The boats that cross the lake look like pirate ships which my kids thought was fun.  Within the boats themselves, there are cool 3D images where you can take photos pretending you are fighting pirates.

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for Lake Ashii

7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
Beautiful Lake Hakone
7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
swan boats to hire
7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
somewhat incongruous but still fun
7 Things To Do In Hakone With Kids
Mucking around on the pirate ship

Visit a Hakone Onsen

For the Japanese, visiting Hakone invariably includes visiting one of the onsens (hot spring baths) that feed of the geothermal activity in the area.

If you are with children, the best option I found was called Hakone Kuwakien Yunessun.  This onsen is located at the Kowaki-en stop on the Hokan Tozan light railway.  It’s got a dedicated area for children which water slides. In addition, unlike traditional onsens, which require you to be nude, there is a bathing suit area which seems to be somewhat gimmicky.   I expect the non-bathing suit area is what you would get from a more traditional onsen experience.

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Onsen

Explore the Hakone Open Air Museum

As I have mentioned in the post on the Hakone Open Air Museum, this place is a wonderful way to combine modern art with fun for the kids.

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for the Hakone Open-Air Museum

Take Some Cool Transportation Options

The Hakone Tozan railway is a charming little train that zig-zags up the mountain. It has 3 switchbacks which the kids found cool.  The driver walks from one end of the train to the other at each switchback to drive it the other way.  As Japan’s oldest mountain railway, in operation since 1919,  it has fantastic views of the mountainside.

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for the Hakone Tozan Railway

The Hakone Tozan light railway in Hakone
The cute little Hakone Tozan train that goes on the switchbacks.

You can take a cable car in Hakone from Gora to the gondolas which cross the mountain.  We were able to take the cable car but because of recent geothermal activity at Mt Fuji, the gondolas have been suspended for the last few months.  Instead, we took a replacement bus service.  Although nice, I’m sure the gondolas would have had better views!

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for the Hakone Ropeway

The gondolas/replacement bus take you to Togendai which is where you get on the Lake Ashii pirate boats.

Tips for Visiting Hakone

Shinagawa station from where we took the Shinkansen has dedicated Japan tourist guides to help you sort out your trip and its details.  There are various transportation options from Tokyo from tourist buses to DIY tickets on the Shinkansen (bullet train) or the Romance Car (a more direct route).  We took the Shinkansen because there was no way my kids were not going on the bullet train!

You can do a circular route around Hakone starting with Odawara castle, the Hakone Tozan train, cable car/replacement bus, the  Lake Ashi boat and then back to Odawara.  It’s very easy to navigate with helpful staff along the way.

An easy day trip from Tokyo: Hakone in Japan

I really regret that I did not spend the night in Hakone.  I didn’t realise how much fun it would be for the kids and myself.  We took an early train to the area and barely made it back to Tokyo on the last train back!

We were having so much fun we lost track of time.  I’m sure you know that when kids are having fun its hard to keep them on schedule.  My kids can pretend fight with sticks, climb rocks and chase each other around paths until the cows come home.  Staying overnight would have been a better option for us because it would have been more relaxing.

Many moons ago when I lived in Japan, I had visited Hakone as part of a longer trip which involved climbing Mt. Fuji. Getting to the top of Mt. Fuji for the sunrise is an event that many people like to do. It’s not a particularly hard climb in terms of mountaineering terms. We saw lots of elderly people doing the climb, too. I did not attempt the climb with my kids on this trip. If you’d like to know more about climbing Mt. Fuji, this article explains the enduring fascination that this mountain has for the Japanese people.

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The kids will love Japan, and no trip is complete without a day trip from Tokyo to Hakone, Japan (about 100km away). From here, if you are lucky, you’ll get to see great views of Mt. Fuji! Check out the top 7 things to do in Hakone with kids, which include a Hakone onsen, the Hakone open air museum and much more fun for the whole family. #hakone #japan #onsen #fuji #kidfriendly #tokyo
The kids will love Japan, and no trip is complete without a day trip from Tokyo to
Hakone, Japan (about 100km away). From here, if you are lucky, you’ll get to see
great views of Mt. Fuji! Check out the top 7 things to do in Hakone with kids, which
include a Hakone onsen, the Hakone open air museum and much more fun for the
whole family. #hakone #japan #onsen #fuji #kidfriendly #tokyo
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17 thoughts on “Fun Things To Do In Hakone With Kids”

  1. I am definitely going to save this post for our (future) trip to Japan! This looks like a great area and I had no idea onsen were open to kids – I always presumed there were off limits for them: great to see I was wrong 🙂

    1. Many onsens aren’t that kid friendly. They are also no clothes so segregation is by gender. It’s tricky if you are travelling with children of the opposite sex like I was.

  2. We also enjoyed our time in Hakone. We visited Mt. Fuji and then spent the rest of the day in Hakone. Riding the gondola was quite memorable because my son lost a tooth while we were on it. I really wish we had time for hiking and also the Open Air museum. I wish we had crossed Lake Ashinoko on a pirate ship as that would have been so much fun, especially now that I know they have 3D photos, but we were put on a just a regular boat instead.

    1. We didn’t get to go on the gondola! I’d love to have done that but the geothermal activity has stopped the gondola for the past few months.

  3. You’ve got a perfect fall day in Hakone. What great colors! I’d like to visit a hot spring baths in Japan sometimes. I’ve heard great things about them. And a boat ride on Lake Ashinoko would be fun too…

  4. Beautiful photos! We spent a day in Hakone a few years ago and enjoyed our visit. Despite it being summer, we endured rain and a lot of fog. We didn’t get to see much other than try out their different transportation options. I’m glad you had much nicer weather. We’d love to go back and spend the night and hopefully see Mt. Fuji too.

    1. I’d love to see Mt Fuji. It seems you hit some unlucky weather pattern – I thought the summers there were generally hot and humid until the storms in Autumn.

  5. Thanks for this. I have a few extra days up my sleeve and was looking for a place to take the kids once we leave Osaka, on our way back to Tokyo to fly out.

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