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Day Trip to Hakone

 


From Tokyo to Hakone - The Perfect Day Trip to Hakone

 

Hakone, located roughly 60 miles west of Tokyo, is a perfect day trip destination.

Here’s how to get the most from your day trip to Hakone.

Follow this one day handpicked itinerary.

Make it fun not frustrating!

 

Hakone is well known for its many hot springs and stunning viewpoints of Mt Fuji (when the weather cooperates). Its sightseeing highlights include pristine Lake Ashi, Owakudani (Hell Valley) with plumes of sulfurous steam gushing upward, several fascinating museums, and many other attractions.

 

Hakone first came under notice of travelers during the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was a checkpoint on the Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) route known as the Tokaido Highway.

It was also used as a base for pilgrims en route to Mount Fuji to revitalize their weary bodies in the healing waters before they tackled the challenging ascent. 

 

 

How to Get to Hakone from Tokyo

 

There are several easy options of getting to Hakone from Tokyo.

Following are some of the most feasible ways that I used in the past and they all worked well:

 

Step One: TOKYO TO ODAWARA

 

From Tokyo Station in Tokyo take either JR East Tokaido Line or JR Central Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Westbound to Odawara Station in Odawara.

 

Step One: TOKYO TO ODAWARA
If you have JR Pass, then your trip on either JR East Tokaido Line or JR Central Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Westbound will be covered by the pass.

 

If you decide to take JR East Tokaido Line, then you will be able to reserve your seats on-line and pick them up at several convenient locations

The travel time on JR East Tokaido Line from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station is about 1 hour.

 

If you decide to take JR Central Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Westbound, then you will not be able to reserve your tickets online, however, you can make reservations at any JR Central office locations.

 

 

Step Two: ODAWARA TO HAKONE-YUMOTO

 

Once you arrive at Odawara, take the West Exit and proceed to board the Odakyu Line Train. The train will take you to Hakone-Yumoto Station. The journey time is about 18 minutes. The trains leave pretty much every 20 minutes, so if you miss one train, there will be another one arriving in a few minutes.

 

 

Getting to Hakone on Romancecar

 

The second option of getting to Hakone is to take the Odakyu Line LTD. Express “Romancecar” from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. It will take you directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Travel time is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Reservations are required and can be made at Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.

 

Romancecar

 

The cost of the ticket for Odakyu Line LTD. Express “Romancecar” depends on whether you have the Hakone Free Pass or not.

If you have the Hakone Free Pass, then there is an additional surcharge of 1,090 yen for one-way travel between Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and Hakone-Yumoto. If you do not have the pass, then the cost is 1,190 yen, plus 1,090 yen surcharge one way. Conversely, the Romancecar is not covered by JR Pass.

 

Step Two: ODAWARA TO HAKONE-YUMOTO
Romancecar is not called ‘Romancecar’ for nothing. It is one of the most luxurious trains in Japan. It has fully reclining seats, panoramic windows, and full on-board service. In addition, it travels through some most spectacular areas with the views of Mt Fuji in the distance.

 

 

Hakone Free Pass – Is It Worth Buying?

 

Are you wondering if Hakone Free Pass in worth buying? Absolutely, it is worth buying! It will help you save money on your trip to Hakone.

It includes round-trip travel on the Odakyu Line, unlimited use of eight Hakone-area transportation modes.

 

 

Find out:

  • first of all, find out which pass to buy (different options are available)
  • second, how much does Hakone Free Pass cost (it is called ‘Free Pass’, however, it it not ‘Free’)
  • third, where can you buy the pass
  • moreover, what is included in Hakone Free Pass
  • and finally, how much will you save if you buy the pass

 

Hakone Free Pass is not only a great tool to help you save money on all modes of transportation in Hakone, in addition you will get discounts on entrance tickets to all major attractions in Hakone.

 

 

Day Trip to Hakone – Itinerary

 

The best way to explore Hakone is by circling the region by going either clockwise or counter-clockwise. It is known as ‘Hakone Loop’.

My preferred method is to go counter-clockwise. 

 

Hakone Map

Photo Credit: Hakone Free Pass 

 

 

STOP # 1

Odawara Castle

 

If you are travelling on JR East or JR Central, then Odawara Station will be your first stop and it is a perfect opportunity to visit Odawara Castle. From Odawara Station take the East Exit and follow the signs.

Odawara Castle is no more than a 10-minute walk from Odawara Station. You will see Odawara Castle Donjon (a massive tower) from the distance.

 

Hakone Day Trip

 

Odawara Castle was as an impregnable castle owned by the fifth daimyo of the Hojo clan, the samurai family that governed Kanto area for about a century from the end of 15th century. It functioned as a cornerstone of defense for Hakone.

 

The current castle tower was rebuilt in 1960.

This three-layered, four-story castle tower has a tsuke-yagura (connecting tower) and watari-yagura (hall turrets) on the top.

 

 

In addition, don’t miss Tokiwagi Gate Samurai museum. The exhibition truly captures the artistry of the samurai armor and the spirit of the samurai.

 

Odawara Castle Samurai Museum

 

I would recommend getting a 3-Hall Common Ticket that covers the Castle Tower, Tokiwagi Gate, and Odawara Castle Historical Observations Hall. All together it costs 700 yen.

However, if you are limited on time, then make sure to at least visit the Castle Tower.

The entrance ticket to the Castle Tower costs 500 yen for adults and 200 yen for Elementary/Junior High Students. If you have Hakone Free Pass, then you qualify to get a discount and purchase the adult ticket for 450 yen and pay 180 yen for Elementary/Junior High Student ticket.

The hours of operation are 9 am to 5 pm and the last admission is at 4:30 pm.

 

Once you are done exploring Odawara Castle head back to Odawara Station. Next, take Odakyu Line Train to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Finally , from Hakone-Yumoto Station take Hakone Tozan Train and get off at Stop OH56 – Chokoku-no-mori Station. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Chokoku-no-mori Station.

 

A ride on Hakone Tozan Train, Japan’s oldest mountain railway, is a treat for more than just railway fans!

The Hakone Tozan Train is built to climb the steep mountain slopes. It winds through narrow, densely wooded valleys, over many bridges and tunnels, stopping at small stations along the way and changing directions at three switchbacks.

The ride on the Hakone Tozan Train is especially beautiful in June and July when thousands of hydrangea are in bloom along the tracks.

Special trains run from mid-June through mid-July between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora Stations for the viewing of the illuminated flowers. They depart in the evenings, twice in each direction, and require seat reservations.

My favorite moment on the train is when it passes over the 43 meter high Deyama Bridge. If you happen to be visiting in the fall, you will be amazed by the scenery!

 

STOP # 2

Hakone Open-Air Museum

 

Hakone Open-Air Museum is located no more than a 10-minute walk from Chokoku-no-mori Station.

 

Hakone Open Air Museum is a world-class open-air gallery and you should not miss it on this day trip to Hakone. It covers an area of 70,000 square meters of beautiful lawns and gardens surrounded by forested hills. It’s collections include some of the world’s most significant sculptures and works of art of late 19th and 20th century by Western and Japanese artists.

 

However, many pieces of art at designed for kids to climb and explore, so the day trip to Hakone and the visit to Hakone Open Air Museum could be a lot of fun for the entire family. In addition, Hakone Open Air Museum has an outdoor foot bath. How cool is that!

 

The most notable of the indoor exhibits is a collection of Pablo Picasso creations. It includes more than 300 of Picasso’s works, comprising of oil paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, and gold objects.

 

One of the most popular pieces at Hakone Open Air Museum is the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire.

Symphonic Sculpture is a tower enclosed by colorful stained glass. Furthermore, inside the stain-glass tower is an 18-meter tall circular staircase that you can ascend all the way up to the viewing platform.

 

Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire

 

Sphere Within Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro is one of the more famous designs at Hakone Open Air Musuem.

Actually, there are other spheres made by Arnaldo Pomodoro. They are located all over the world.

The surface of the sphere is brightly polished and can be spotted from a far distance gleaming in the sun. As you come closer, you notice that there is a tear in the perfect orb. It looks like a part of it was either ripped out or torn away. The tear exposes the interior with another sphere inside.

 

Hakone Open Air Museum

 

Hakone Open Air Musuem’s piece de resistance is the outdoor foot bath.

Here, you can soak your footsies in the warm mineral waters scented with floating oranges and lemons and massage your feet on raised river pebbles.

 

Hakone Open Air Museum

 

 

The openings hours are 9 am to 5 pm. Moreover, the last admission is at 4:30 pm.

The entrance ticket costs 1,600 yen, however if you have the Hakone Free Pass, then you can purchase a discounted ticket for 1,400 yen.

 

Continuing on, jump back on Hakone Tozan Train and get off at Gora Station. It will be no more than a 10-minute ride. Next, from Gora hop on Hakone Tozan Cablecar and get off at Sounzan. It will take you about 10-15 minutes to get there.

 

And finally, from Sounzan take Hakone Tozan Ropeway and get off at Owakudani. It is no more than a 10-15 minute ride.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

 

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Day Trip to Hakone

Day Trip to Hakone

 

STOP # 3

Owakudani

 

Owakudani is known as ‘the Great Boiling Valley’ or ‘Hell Valley’. Specifically, it is a large volcanic crater formed 3,000 years ago following an eruption of Mount Hakone. 

Owakudani still remains an active volcanic region. It has hot springs, boiling pools of water, and huge vents spewing hot steam and fumes. You will be able to smell the volcanic fumes of sulfur from far away. The fumes have an unmistakable scent of rotten eggs.

However, do not be discouraged, it is the most fun part of the day trip to Hakone!

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

To start with, take a walk and enjoy these spectacular natural views. Furthermore, be on the lookout for Mt Fuji. At this altitude of 1,044 meters, you might be lucky to see Mt Fuji and even Tokyo Skyline, if the weather cooperates.

 

Interestingly enough, tourists flock to this area seeking the famous Owakudani black eggs or ‘kuro-tamago’.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

Owakudani black eggs or “Kuro-tamago” are basically hard boiled chicken eggs in the Owakudani’s hot water pools.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

The sulfur in the water turns the egg shell black, however the inside still looks like a normal hard boiled egg.

Legend has it that eating just one egg will extend your life by 7 years. Incidentally, there is an addendum to the legend that says that you should not eat more than two of these eggs. So, there is no chance here of becoming immortal.

But, If you are looking for original souvenirs, I think that getting some eggs as a gift with a promise of life extension might be pretty sleek.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

After you are done exploring Owakudani hop back on Hakone Tozan Ropeway and get off at Togendai-ko. Be on the lookout for Mt Fuji and make sure to take one final glance at Owakudani.

 

Hakone Day Trip

 

By the way, if you have Hakone Free Pass, then the cost of Hakone Tozan ropeway will be covered by the pass.

Once you reach Togendai-ko, follow the signs for Hakone Sighseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi.

 

STOP # 4

Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi

 

The Sightseeing Cruises leave every 20 minutes from Togendai-ko and last about 30-40 minutes.

 

To be honest, the cruise on Lake Ashi is my favorite part of the day trip to Hakone. The scenery is breathtaking no matter what time of the year you visit. In addition, Lake Ashi is really well known for the inverted reflection of Mt. Fuji. And, here, hopefully, you will get another chance to catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

STOP # 4
Lake Ashi is a crater lake created by a phreatic (stem and minerals) eruption 3000 years ago. It sits at 725 meters (2,378 feet) above sea level. Lake Ashi has a circumference of 21 km (11 miles). It abounds in black bass and trout.

 

The sightseeing cruise stops at two ports. The first port is Hakone Machi-ko and the second port is Moto-Hakone-ko. Make sure to get off at the first stop which is Hakone Machi-ko. Next, follow the signs for Hakone Checkpoint

 

STOP # 5

Hakone Checkpoint

 

Hakone Checkpoint and Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall are about a 10-minute walk from Hakone Machi-ko port. Personally, I find this part of day trip to Hakone the most interesting. I love history and this area has so many stories to tell.

During the Edo period a nationwide road network was developed in Japan. Along with the development of roads came many ‘sekisho’, which are checkpoints. The purpose of the checkpoints was to inspect the travelers and their loads.

Hakone Sekisho was one of the most important checkpoints that safeguarded the security of Edo (now Tokyo) as the seat of Shogunate.

Once you reach Hakone Checkpoint, you will be able to see a historically accurate restoration of the original checkpoint.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

The opening hours are 9 am to 5 pm and the last entry is at 4:30 pm.  Moreover, entrance fee is 500 yen, however if you have the Hakone Free Pass, then you can purchase a discounted ticket for 450 yen.

 

STOP # 6

Ancient Cedar Avenue

 

I have to honestly say that Ancient Cedar Avenue is my second favorite part of the day trip to Hakone (right after the cruise on lake Ashi).

 

Ancient Cedar Avenue stretches for about two kilometers.  It is an absolute delight to walk under the cedars planted over 400 years ago and enjoy the shade they give travelers.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

Here you can get great views of Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji as well.

 

STOP # 7

Hakone-jinja Shrine

 

Contiune your stroll and follow the signs for Hakone-jinja Shrine.

 

The shrine was founded in 757 and it is where Tokugawa and other samurai families worshiped. I have to say that of all the shrines I visited in Japan, this shine is situated in the most visually captivating setting I have ever been to.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

The road leading to it will give you many opportunities to capture some breathtaking pictures.

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

However, the main tourist attraction here is the vermilion colored o-torii gate. Here, tourists line up to take some great pictures of lake Ashi. However, I think it is worth the wait to get some awesome pictures!

 

 

Day Trip to Hakone

 

This is the end of the sightseeing loop and now it is time to get back to Tokyo.

First step is to take Bus K–Hakone Tozan Bus from Moto Hakone-ko to Hakone-Yumoto. Or, you can take bus R which operates Saturdays Sundays and public holidays only. The bus ride is about one hour.

Once you get to Hakone-Yumoto, then you need either catch the Romancecar directly to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo or take the Odakyu Line to Odawara and then continue from Odawara to Tokyo Station.

 

 

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Day Trip to Hakone

Day Trip to Hakone

 

 

Now, I want to hear from you!
Have you been to Hakone? Would you add anything else to this list?
Are you planning a trip to Hakone? When are you planning to go?
Let me know! Leave me a quick comment in the comment section right below!

 

 

More posts about Hakone:

Click on the image to read.

 

 

 

 

Comments:

10 thoughts on “From Tokyo to Hakone – The Perfect Day Trip to Hakone


Phil Morris
2019-08-28

Hi Anna, Thank you so much for this, we will be going to Japan next year and it is difficult to find posts with such detail with regards to sightseeing. We will be staying one night in Hakone then on to Takayama.

Phil

    2019-08-28

    Hi Phil,
    Thank you for your kind comment. I am so glad you found my article useful. If this is your first visit to Hakone, then you will find the entire area very charming and abundant with variety of things to do for every taste. I hope you had a chance to review my other post on Hakone, where I listed 19 Unmissable Things to Do in Hakone. It goes over everything there is to do and see. It might give you a couple more ideas to add to your itinerary.

Thanks for sharing.
Japan is amazing place for a great vacation with the kids.

    2019-09-04

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for your comment!
    Are you traveling to Japan soon? Or, have you just visited?

Peggy
2019-10-03

I love this this great article! We are in Tokyo and have been looking for good instructions to make the trip to Hakone. I visited the open air museum in 1972 when I was 9 and have always hoped to go back. With your helpful information we are making arrangements! Thank you so much!!

    2019-10-09

    Hi Peggy,
    I am beyond happy that you find my article useful!
    Have a great time in Hakone and let me know if I can be of further assistance!
    Anna

Emily
2020-02-09

Hi Anna,

Thanks so much for laying this all out so well. Have been going back and forth on doing this day trip in April, but definitely adding it to our list now! About what time do you think you’d head back to Tokyo following this method? Also any recommendations for where/when on this itinerary to eat?

    2020-02-09

    Hi Emily,
    Going to Hakone takes an entire day. Go as early as possible and plan on staying as long as you can, meaning, if it starting getting dark, then it is time to head back. Wherever I go, I start as early as possible, and I stay as long as I can. You are going in April, so the days will start getting longer. As far as lunch, there is always some options for a quick bite. Again, I am a type of a traveler that has a few protein bars in the backpack also a cup of tea and or coffee would carry me on as well.
    The entire Hakone area is so beautiful. April will be just lovely! Enjoy!

Regina Pinto
2020-04-21

Realmente interessante. Adorei o post e veio em otima hora pois estou preparando minha viagem para outubro. Tinhamos tudo reservado para abril mas a pandemia mudou todos os planos. Vou seguir tuas recomendações a risca. Muito lindo brigada pelas dicas.

    2020-04-21

    Thank you so much for your kind comment! I hope your trip works out in October. I had to change many of my plans as well. By the way, I used google translate and it detected Portuguese. Are you from Portugal? If yes, then I just want to say that I went to Portugal many years ago and I truly loved this beautiful country.

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