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“Beautiful Garden, waterfall and pond with fish and turtles.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hakone Gardens

Hakone Gardens
21000 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070
408-741-4994
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Ranked #4 of 17 Attractions in Saratoga
Type: Gardens, Outdoors
Activities: Walking
Attraction details
Reston, Virginia
Top Contributor
211 reviews 211 reviews
46 attraction reviews
Reviews in 70 cities Reviews in 70 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
“Beautiful Garden, waterfall and pond with fish and turtles.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2013

Apparently Hakone is a special type of Japanese garden. This garden is supposed to be the oldes Japanese garden in the Western World. The garden is very beautiful and serene. Some of the short trails and stairs are quite steep and one must be in good shape the climb then. The vegetation and trees are very beautiful. There is a great looking koi pond and an artificial water fall. The bamboo garden was beautiful. You can also see a few California redwood trees. We enjoyed the garden very much. We did not see many flowering plants. The entrance fee for adults is $8. Seniors pay $6. I highly recommend visiting this garden.

Visited June 2013
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71 reviews from our community

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English first
Sunnyvale, CA
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Nice enough”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

My BF and I wanted to explore something in the San Jose Area that wouldn't be too crowded. A friend recommended this Garden - so we went. The drive in is one way and very steep and there's a light that's supposed to change to indicate that it's ok to drive up. Going up was fine. Coming down it took several minutes before the light changed even though no other cars had come up.

The Gardens were quiet and serene. There was a lovely koi pond with large koi and little turtles. The garden felt a little small to me. Most of the paths were steep - so it's not an easy garden to walk around but one with a bit of a hike. Even though it was a weekend, the teahouse was closed. We were able to peak in.

I kind of got the feeling that this Garden has seen better days. It took us 45 minutes to walk through the whole garden. There is a restroom as you enter the grounds. There aren't any trash/recycle cans through the garden so if you have a water bottle, you need to hold on to it throughout the visit. There's an $8 admission fee. You need to pay for it at the gift shop - first, get a token and then you can enter. Still it was pleasant enough outing with by BF for the day.

Visited June 2013
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Santa Ana, California
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Seen Better Days”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

Looked for a garden to take my mother. I appreciated the website informing us that the paths are gravel and inappropriate for wheelchairs, what they didn't state was that the gardens are very vertical and difficult to walk. When we were there the Bamboo Garden was closed which is a third of what's there. The main garden is O.K., but the koi pond was out of balance with algae. There was a lot of bamboo waiting to be installed so maybe there will be improvements. I would not recommend.

Visited May 2013
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Santa Cruz, California
Top Contributor
126 reviews 126 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
88 helpful votes 88 helpful votes
“Beautiful Disappointment”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 10, 2013

This is a beautiful place. It's small: 18 acres but a gorgeous pond & waterfall with the lovely building overlooking it are the main attractions. Much of the rest of the "garden" consists of trails thru the woods with some nice overlooks. Lots of wonderful flowering plants, tho the website said the wisteria are in bloom & they were absolutely done! Wonderful trees both towering & ornamental, but it would have been SO nice to know what they are. Small interpretive signs would be helpful & interesting.

We anticipated visiting here for a long time but, ultimately, we were disappointed. I had an "uh-oh" feeling in the gift shop where we bought our $8 entrance token. The gal behind the counter was more interested in texting than in answering questions; the merchandise was ok but nothing special; & the place was a bit disorganized & unclean. Once in the garden, after thoroughly enjoying the pond area, it became clear there wasn't much else to see. None of the buildings were open to wander thru. The bamboo garden was closed to protect young shoots, tho peering in we wondered how walking on the trail could possibly endanger anything. The zen garden was definitely not Zen; it's a place to look at rather than walk thru, but there wasn't much to see & the gravel was not clean or raked. Much of the rest of the "garden" was messy. We could see there was some pond clean-up going on in anticipation of a festival the next weekend, but it's clear that the entire place needs love & care.

We were amazed at how few places there were to sit, to relax, to contemplate... mostly some benches against the walls in the little shelters. We wanted to sit & listen to the waterfall for a while, but found only a dirty boulder to share. So.. we're glad we finally visited, but have no desire to return. Hakone Gardens feels like a missed opportunity; it cries out for TLC & could be so very much more pleasant & peaceful.

Visited May 2013
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Budapest, Hungary
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Mixed feelings”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 9, 2013

I visited Hakone Gardens with my 3-year-old today and altough the park itself is serene and wonderfully calm, I would not go back there once more (even though originally I planned to return with my husband at the weekend).
First of all, the token-system did not really worked for me. Although I threw the coin into the slot, nothing happened, so after all I had to climb in under the gate...
Secondly, there is no baby changing facility. (Or I did not find it.)
Thirdly, the tea house is not operating on weekdays, even though there were plenty of visitors.
And one more: there is one way traffic in and out of the parking lot, but I do not know how the lights are working: I waited for more than 10 minutes to be able to leave...
Otherwise we both enjoyed strolling in the garden, it is a really peaceful and quiet little island not far from San Francisco - but these small things ruined our experience a bit. (Or I am not Zen type at all. :))

Visited May 2013
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