Hakone Vs Atami: Choosing the Perfect Destination for Your Japanese Adventure

05 June 2024Shopify API

When planning a trip to Japan, the country's rich cultural heritage and breathtaking natural beauty beckon travelers to explore its diverse regions. 

Two popular destinations that often capture the imagination of visitors are Hakone and Atami. Both locations offer unique experiences, but which one is truly worth the visit? 

In this article, we'll compare Hakone and Atami across various aspects, enabling you to make an informed decision for your next Japanese adventure.

Hakone Vs Atami

Natural Beauty

Hakone: Hakone is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders that leave visitors awe-inspired. One of its most iconic features is the majestic Mount Fuji, which towers over the landscape and offers breathtaking views from various vantage points. 

The sight of Mount Fuji reflected on the tranquil waters of Lake Ashi is a postcard-worthy image that captures the essence of Hakone's beauty.

In addition to Mount Fuji, Hakone boasts a picturesque setting within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The region is characterized by lush forests, rolling hills, and serene lakes. Lake Ashi, also known as Ashinoko, is a stunning crater lake formed by volcanic activity. 

It is surrounded by dense forests and provides a tranquil backdrop for boat rides and leisurely walks along its shores.

Hakone is also home to the famous Hakone Ropeway, a cable car ride that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and volcanic landscapes. 

The ropeway journey takes visitors above the Owakudani volcanic valley, where they can witness volcanic activity, steam vents, and sulfuric hot springs.

Moreover, Hakone is renowned for its traditional Japanese gardens, such as the Hakone-en Garden and the Hakone Museum of Art's Moss Garden. 

These meticulously manicured gardens feature lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and serene ponds, creating a harmonious and peaceful atmosphere.

Atami: While Atami may not boast the same mountainous landscapes as Hakone, it offers its own unique coastal charm and natural beauty. 

The city is nestled along the coast of the Sagami Bay, providing stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Atami's beaches, such as Atami Sun Beach and Kinomiya Beach, offer a serene escape where visitors can relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze. 

These sandy stretches are perfect for leisurely strolls, picnics, and water activities like swimming and paddleboarding.

Another natural gem in Atami is the Atami Plum Garden. This expansive garden bursts into a riot of colors during the annual Atami Baien Plum Blossom Festival, usually held in February and March. 

Visitors can marvel at thousands of plum trees in full bloom, creating a magical spectacle of delicate pink and white blossoms.

Beyond the coastline, Atami is also surrounded by picturesque coastal cliffs, such as the Jogasaki Coastline on the nearby Izu Peninsula. 

These rugged cliffs offer dramatic views of the crashing waves and rugged rock formations, making it a popular spot for hiking and coastal walks.

Conclusion: Hakone and Atami each have their distinct natural beauty. Hakone's landscape is characterized by the awe-inspiring presence of Mount Fuji, serene lakes, verdant forests, and volcanic valleys. 

The region's proximity to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park further enhances its allure. Atami, on the other hand, captivates with its coastal charm, picturesque beaches, ocean vistas, and the stunning Atami Plum Garden.

Both destinations provide unique natural experiences, and the choice between them depends on whether you prefer the mountainous and lake-filled landscapes of Hakone or the coastal beauty and seaside ambiance of Atami. 

Regardless of your choice, both Hakone and Atami guarantee unforgettable encounters with Japan's natural splendor.

Verdict: While both Hakone and Atami possess natural beauty, Hakone's awe-inspiring views of Mount Fuji and tranquil lakes give it a slight edge in terms of captivating landscapes.

Cultural Attractions

Hakone: Hakone is deeply rooted in Japanese history and culture, offering a plethora of cultural attractions that showcase the region's heritage. 

Here are some notable cultural highlights:

  1. Hakone Shrine: Situated at the edge of Lake Ashi, Hakone Shrine is a sacred Shinto shrine that dates back to the 8th century. The shrine's picturesque torii gate stands in the water, creating a mesmerizing scene. Visitors can stroll through the tranquil forest paths and experience a sense of serenity and spirituality.
  1. Hakone Open-Air Museum: This unique museum combines art and nature, featuring a vast outdoor exhibition space showcasing sculptures from renowned artists around the world. Visitors can admire various artistic styles and installations set against the backdrop of Hakone's natural beauty. The museum also houses indoor galleries displaying a diverse collection of artwork.
  1. Traditional Ryokans: Hakone is known for its traditional Japanese inns, called ryokans. Staying in a ryokan allows visitors to immerse themselves in the rich cultural traditions of Japan. Guests can experience tatami-mat rooms, futon bedding, and kaiseki (traditional multi-course) meals, providing an authentic taste of Japanese hospitality.

Atami: Atami boasts a rich cultural heritage, offering a range of cultural attractions that highlight the city's artistic and historical significance. 

Here are a few noteworthy cultural attractions in Atami:

  1. Atami Castle: Located on a hilltop overlooking the city and the ocean, Atami Castle is a reconstructed medieval-style fortress that offers panoramic views. Inside, visitors can explore the castle museum, which showcases exhibits on the history and culture of the region. The top floor provides a vantage point to enjoy breathtaking vistas of the city and the surrounding coastline.
  1. MOA Museum of Art: The MOA Museum of Art houses an impressive collection of Japanese and East Asian art, including ancient ceramics, calligraphy, paintings, and Buddhist artifacts. The museum is set amidst beautiful gardens and offers an enchanting setting to appreciate the art and delve into the cultural heritage of the region.
  1. Atami Baien Plum Garden: As mentioned earlier, the Atami Baien Plum Garden is a must-visit attraction during the Plum Blossom Festival. The garden features thousands of plum trees, which bloom in vibrant shades of pink and white. Walking through the garden during the festival is a sensory delight, with the fragrant aroma of plum blossoms permeating the air.
  1. Shopping Streets and Museums: Atami's streets are lined with charming shops, cafes, and museums. Visitors can explore art galleries, craft shops, and boutiques that showcase the work of local artisans. The city's arts and crafts scene provides insight into traditional and contemporary Japanese art forms.

Conclusion: Hakone and Atami offer distinctive cultural attractions that provide insight into Japan's rich history and artistic heritage. Hakone's cultural highlights include the serene Hakone Shrine, the captivating Hakone Open-Air Museum, and the immersive experience of staying in traditional ryokans. 

Atami, on the other hand, offers attractions like Atami Castle, the MOA Museum of Art, and the picturesque Atami Baien Plum Garden.

Whether you're interested in exploring ancient shrines, contemporary art, or experiencing traditional Japanese hospitality, both Hakone and Atami offer a diverse range of cultural experiences that cater to different interests. 

Immerse yourself in the cultural treasures of either destination and uncover the fascinating layers of Japan's heritage.

Verdict: Both Hakone and Atami have distinct cultural attractions, but Hakone's deep-rooted traditions, ancient shrines, and immersive ryokan experiences make it a cultural haven.

Hot Springs and Relaxation

Hakone: Hakone is renowned for its hot springs, known as "onsen" in Japanese, making it a paradise for relaxation and rejuvenation. Here's what you can expect from the hot springs in Hakone:

  1. Onsen Resorts: Hakone is home to numerous onsen resorts and ryokans that offer a range of luxurious amenities and soothing hot spring experiences. These resorts often feature both indoor and outdoor baths, allowing guests to soak in the healing mineral waters while surrounded by the region's natural beauty. Some resorts even offer private onsen baths for a more intimate and exclusive experience.
  1. Outdoor Baths with Scenic Views: Many hot springs in Hakone provide the opportunity to enjoy the therapeutic waters while taking in breathtaking views. Picture yourself immersed in a warm onsen while gazing at the picturesque landscapes, such as views of Mount Fuji, serene lakes, or lush forests. These outdoor baths, known as "rotenburo," offer a tranquil and immersive experience in nature.
  1. Healing Properties: The hot springs in Hakone are believed to have various health benefits due to the mineral-rich waters. It is said that soaking in these thermal baths can help relieve muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and promote relaxation. The healing properties of the hot springs make them a popular choice for those seeking physical and mental well-being.

Atami: Atami is also renowned for its hot springs, which have been revered for their healing properties for centuries. Here's what you can expect from the hot springs in Atami:

  1. Seaside Baths: One of the unique aspects of Atami's hot springs is their proximity to the ocean. Some of the hot springs in the city offer seaside baths, allowing visitors to enjoy the therapeutic warmth while gazing out at the vast Pacific Ocean. The combination of soothing waters and stunning ocean views creates a truly rejuvenating experience.
  1. Hot Spring Ryokans and Hotels: Atami is home to a range of ryokans and hotels that provide comfortable accommodations along with hot spring facilities. These establishments offer various types of baths, including indoor and outdoor options, communal or private baths, and baths with different mineral compositions. Guests can indulge in the relaxation and comfort of these hot spring retreats.
  1. Relaxing Atmosphere: Atami's coastal location and hot spring culture create a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere. The city's slower pace and ocean breezes contribute to a sense of serenity, allowing visitors to unwind and recharge. Whether you're enjoying a soak in a hot spring or strolling along the seaside promenade, Atami offers an ambiance conducive to relaxation.

Conclusion: Both Hakone and Atami provide excellent options for hot springs and relaxation experiences. Hakone's hot springs offer a combination of serene landscapes, outdoor baths with stunning views, and luxurious onsen resorts. The region's proximity to Mount Fuji adds to the allure. 

Atami, with its seaside charm, provides hot springs with ocean vistas, hot spring ryokans and hotels, and a tranquil atmosphere by the coast.

Whether you choose Hakone or Atami, both destinations allow you to immerse yourself in the therapeutic waters of hot springs, providing an opportunity to unwind, rejuvenate, and embrace the healing properties of these natural treasures.

Verdict: Both Hakone and Atami are ideal for unwinding in hot springs, but Hakone's tranquil lakeside settings and diverse range of luxurious onsen resorts give it an advantage for relaxation.

Accessibility and Nearby Attractions

Hakone: Accessibility: Hakone is easily accessible from Tokyo, making it a popular destination for both domestic and international travelers. Here are the main transportation options:

  1. Hakone Free Pass: The Hakone Free Pass is a convenient and cost-effective transportation ticket that allows unlimited travel within the Hakone region. It covers various modes of transportation, including trains, buses, boats, and the Hakone Ropeway. The pass can be purchased in Tokyo and provides seamless travel to and within Hakone.
  1. Odakyu Romancecar: The Odakyu Romancecar is a limited express train service that connects Tokyo's Shinjuku Station to Hakone. It offers a comfortable and scenic journey, taking you directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station, the gateway to Hakone.

Nearby Attractions: Hakone's strategic location allows for easy access to several nearby attractions. Here are a few noteworthy destinations:

  1. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park: Hakone is situated within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, a vast nature reserve renowned for its diverse landscapes and outdoor activities. The park encompasses Mount Fuji, the Izu Peninsula, and the Hakone region, offering opportunities for hiking, scenic drives, and exploration of volcanic hot springs.
  1. Izu Peninsula: Located south of Hakone, the Izu Peninsula is a scenic coastal region known for its stunning beaches, hot springs, and charming seaside towns. Visitors can enjoy activities such as snorkeling, swimming, and visiting picturesque spots like Shimoda and Ito.
  1. Gotemba Premium Outlets: Shopaholics will appreciate the proximity of Hakone to the Gotemba Premium Outlets. Located at the base of Mount Fuji, this expansive outlet mall offers a wide range of luxury and designer brands, making it a popular destination for shopping enthusiasts.

Atami: Accessibility: Atami is conveniently located along the Tokaido Shinkansen line, making it easily accessible from major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. Here are the main transportation options:

  1. Shinkansen: The Tokaido Shinkansen provides high-speed train services to Atami from Tokyo and other major cities. The journey takes around 40 minutes from Tokyo, allowing for a quick and convenient trip.

Nearby Attractions: Atami's location makes it a convenient base for exploring other attractions in the region. Here are a few nearby destinations:

  1. Izu Peninsula: Atami serves as a gateway to the Izu Peninsula, a picturesque coastal region renowned for its stunning landscapes, hot springs, and onsen resorts. Visitors can explore charming towns like Ito, Shimoda, and Kawazu, or relax on beautiful beaches such as Shirahama and Tatadohama.
  1. Shuzenji: Located in the heart of the Izu Peninsula, Shuzenji is a historic hot spring town known for its serene atmosphere and traditional ryokans. Visitors can soak in the healing waters, visit the Shuzenji Temple, and enjoy the charming streets lined with shops and cafes.
  1. Mishima: Mishima, located near Atami, is another nearby destination worth exploring. It is home to attractions such as the Mishima Skywalk, one of Japan's longest suspension bridges offering panoramic views, and the beautiful gardens of the Mishima Taisha Shrine.

Conclusion: Both Hakone and Atami offer convenient access to nearby attractions, allowing visitors to expand their exploration beyond the immediate area. 

Hakone's proximity to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and the Izu Peninsula provides opportunities for scenic drives, outdoor activities, and cultural experiences. Atami serves as a gateway to the Izu Peninsula, allowing

Verdict: Atami's accessibility and its proximity to other attractions in the region give it an advantage in terms of convenience and the opportunity for further exploration.


Hakone: Hakone offers a delightful culinary experience, showcasing a mix of traditional Japanese cuisine and local specialties. Here are some highlights of Hakone's cuisine:

  1. Kaiseki Ryori: Hakone is renowned for its kaiseki ryori, a traditional multi-course meal that beautifully presents seasonal and regional ingredients. Kaiseki meals typically consist of meticulously prepared dishes, including fresh seafood, seasonal vegetables, tofu, and delicately seasoned meats. The focus is on balance, harmony, and presentation, providing a true gastronomic journey.
  1. Unagi (Grilled Eel): Hakone is known for its delicious unagi, or grilled eel. The eel is typically marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and then grilled to perfection. It is often served over a bed of rice and accompanied by pickles and miso soup. Unagi is a local specialty that showcases the flavors of the region.
  1. Owakudani Black Eggs: Owakudani, a volcanic valley in Hakone, is famous for its "black eggs." These are regular eggs boiled in the hot springs of Owakudani, which causes the shells to turn black and gives the eggs a unique flavor. The eggs are said to have health benefits and are a popular snack for visitors exploring the area.

Atami: Atami offers a diverse range of culinary delights, from fresh seafood to regional specialties. 

Here are some highlights of Atami's cuisine:

  1. Seafood: Being a coastal city, Atami is known for its delectable seafood. Visitors can savor a variety of freshly caught fish and shellfish, including sashimi (raw fish), grilled fish, and sushi. Don't miss the chance to try Atami's specialty, "kinmedai" (splendid alfonsino), a local fish known for its delicate flavor.
  1. Onsen Manju: Onsen manju is a popular traditional Japanese sweet treat found in Atami. These steamed buns are typically filled with sweet red bean paste and come in various shapes and sizes. Enjoying onsen manju with a cup of green tea is a delightful way to indulge in a local specialty.
  1. Atami Shrimp: Atami is famous for its succulent and flavorful shrimp. Known as "Atami ebi," these prawns are often served in a variety of dishes, such as tempura, grilled, or in hot pot preparations. The shrimp's freshness and natural sweetness make it a must-try delicacy in the city.
  1. Atami Noodles: Atami is also known for its unique noodles called "Atami soba." These thin buckwheat noodles are served hot or cold and can be enjoyed with a dipping sauce or in a broth. Atami soba has a distinct flavor and texture that sets it apart from other types of soba noodles.

Conclusion: Both Hakone and Atami offer a delectable array of culinary delights that showcase the flavors of the region.

 Hakone's kaiseki ryori, unagi, and Owakudani black eggs provide a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine with a local twist. Atami's seafood, including kinmedai, and specialties like onsen manju and Atami soba, offer a unique culinary experience influenced by its coastal location.

Whether you're indulging in a multi-course kaiseki meal in Hakone or sampling the fresh seafood delicacies in Atami, both destinations offer a diverse range of culinary delights that are sure to satisfy your taste buds and provide a memorable gastronomic journey.

Verdict: Both Hakone and Atami offer unique culinary experiences. Hakone's traditional dishes and sake culture provide a taste of the region's heritage, while Atami's fresh seafood delights cater to seafood lovers.

Outdoor Activities

Hakone: Hakone's stunning natural landscapes provide a plethora of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Here are some notable outdoor activities in Hakone:

  1. Hiking and Nature Trails: Hakone offers a variety of scenic hiking trails that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the region's natural beauty. The Hakone Hiking Trail, also known as the Hakone Eight Peaks, offers breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi, and the surrounding mountains. The trail spans approximately 11 kilometers and takes hikers through lush forests, volcanic landscapes, and serene valleys.
  1. Lake Ashi Cruises: Exploring Lake Ashi by boat is a popular activity in Hakone. Visitors can take a leisurely cruise on one of the sightseeing boats that traverse the lake, providing stunning views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding landscapes. It's a great way to relax, enjoy the fresh air, and take in the beauty of the area from a different perspective.
  1. Hakone Ropeway: The Hakone Ropeway is a cable car system that offers spectacular views as it transports passengers between Togendai and Owakudani. The journey provides panoramic vistas of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi, and the Owakudani volcanic valley. At Owakudani, visitors can explore the geothermal area and witness the steam vents and sulfurous fumes rising from the ground.
  1. Cycling: Hakone's scenic roads and paths make it an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. Renting a bicycle and exploring the area at your own pace allows you to soak in the picturesque landscapes and discover hidden gems along the way. Cycling routes often include visits to attractions such as Hakone Shrine, Lake Ashi, and the surrounding countryside.

Atami: Atami's coastal location offers a range of outdoor activities that embrace the region's natural beauty. Here are some notable outdoor activities in Atami:

  1. Beaches and Water Sports: Atami boasts several beautiful beaches where visitors can relax, swim, and enjoy water sports. Some popular beaches include Atami Sun Beach and Kinomiya Beach. Water sports enthusiasts can try their hand at activities such as paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling in the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.
  1. Atami Plum Garden and Promenade: Atami's Plum Garden is not only known for its plum blossoms but also features a charming promenade that offers scenic walks along the coastline. Visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls, taking in the refreshing sea breeze and admiring the coastal views. The promenade is especially popular during the Plum Blossom Festival.
  1. Golf: Atami is home to several golf courses that offer picturesque fairways and panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding landscapes. Golf enthusiasts can tee off amidst the natural beauty of Atami and enjoy a round of golf in a serene setting.
  1. Jogasaki Coast: Located nearby in Izu Peninsula, the Jogasaki Coast offers breathtaking coastal scenery and hiking opportunities. Visitors can explore the rugged cliffs, dramatic rock formations, and panoramic viewpoints along the coast. Hiking trails wind through lush forests, providing an invigorating outdoor experience.

Conclusion: Hakone and Atami provide a range of outdoor activities that cater to different interests and allow visitors to embrace the natural beauty of the regions. 

Hakone offers hiking, lake cruises, cable car rides, and cycling, providing opportunities to explore mountains, forests, and volcanic landscapes. 

Atami offers beach activities, coastal walks, golfing, and the chance to explore the scenic Jogasaki Coast.

Whether you prefer adventurous hikes, leisurely cruises, water sports, or serene walks along the coast, both Hakone and Atami offer outdoor activities that will satisfy your desire to connect with nature and create unforgettable experiences.

Verdict: Hakone's wide array of outdoor activities, including hiking, boating, and golfing, make it an ideal destination for adventure enthusiasts. Atami, while offering some outdoor options, focuses more on relaxation and seaside experiences.

Atmosphere and Ambience

Hakone: Hakone exudes a serene and tranquil atmosphere, providing a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here's what you can expect in terms of atmosphere and ambience in Hakone:

  1. Nature's Serenity: Hakone is blessed with abundant natural beauty, including picturesque mountains, lush forests, and serene lakes. The region's pristine landscapes create a peaceful and calming atmosphere, allowing visitors to unwind and reconnect with nature. Whether you're hiking through the forested trails, soaking in a hot spring, or enjoying a leisurely boat ride on Lake Ashi, Hakone's natural surroundings contribute to a sense of tranquility.
  1. Traditional Elegance: Hakone embraces its rich cultural heritage, and the traditional elements are prevalent throughout the region. From the beautifully crafted wooden architecture of ryokans and temples to the meticulously prepared kaiseki meals, Hakone's traditional elegance adds to its charming ambience. Strolling through historic streets, such as Moto-Hakone or Hakone-Yumoto, gives you a glimpse into the region's past and creates a nostalgic atmosphere.
  1. Onsen Town Vibe: Hakone is known for its onsen culture, and the town's ambiance reflects this. The aroma of sulfur in the air, the sight of steam rising from hot springs, and the soothing sound of flowing water contribute to the unique onsen town vibe. The onsen resorts and ryokans are designed to provide a serene and relaxing environment, often featuring traditional Japanese gardens, tatami-floored rooms, and outdoor baths with stunning views. The onsen experience in Hakone immerses visitors in an atmosphere of tranquility and rejuvenation.

Atami: Atami offers a distinctive atmosphere characterized by its seaside charm and relaxing ambiance. Here's what you can expect in terms of atmosphere and ambience in Atami:

  1. Coastal Serenity: Atami's location along the coast of the Pacific Ocean creates a laid-back and tranquil atmosphere. The sound of waves crashing against the shoreline, the gentle sea breeze, and the sight of expansive ocean views contribute to a sense of serenity. Whether you're strolling along the promenade, enjoying a beach day, or gazing at the horizon, Atami's coastal serenity provides a peaceful environment for relaxation.
  1. Resort Town Vibes: Known as a resort town, Atami exudes a vacation-like atmosphere. The town's architecture features a mix of modern and traditional styles, with resort hotels, ryokans, and cafes lining the streets. Atami's ambiance is enhanced by the presence of palm trees, flower gardens, and scenic viewpoints overlooking the ocean. The overall resort town vibes create an inviting and leisurely atmosphere for visitors.
  1. Onsen Retreat: Atami is renowned for its onsen retreats, which contribute to the town's relaxed atmosphere. Many accommodations in Atami offer their own hot spring facilities, allowing guests to indulge in the therapeutic waters and unwind in a peaceful setting. The combination of hot springs, ocean views, and tranquil surroundings adds to the overall atmosphere of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Conclusion: Both Hakone and Atami offer unique atmospheres and ambience that contribute to a sense of tranquility and relaxation.

Hakone's nature's serenity, traditional elegance, and onsen town vibe create a peaceful and culturally rich atmosphere.

 Atami's coastal serenity, resort town vibes, and onsen retreat ambiance provide a laid-back and rejuvenating environment.

Whether you prefer the serene landscapes and traditional charm of Hakone or the seaside tranquility and resort vibes of Atami, both destinations offer an inviting atmosphere that allows visitors to unwind, recharge, and embrace a sense of peace and tranquility.

Verdict: Hakone's serene and calming ambiance appeals to those looking for a tranquil getaway, while Atami's lively atmosphere is ideal for those seeking a mix of relaxation and entertainment.


In the end, the choice between Hakone and Atami depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. 

Hakone impresses with its captivating views of Mount Fuji, serene lakes, and rich cultural heritage, making it a dream destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs. 

Atami, on the other hand, offers a coastal retreat with beautiful beaches, healing hot springs, and convenient access to nearby attractions.

Whether you desire a mountainous escape or a seaside sanctuary, both Hakone and Atami promise unforgettable experiences that showcase Japan's natural beauty and cultural treasures. 

Ultimately, the decision lies in your personal interests and what you hope to gain from your Japanese adventure.

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