Hakone is famous for hot springs and especially for its view of Mount Fuji from Lake Ashinoko. It’s one of the most popular destinations among Japanese and international tourists to get away from Tokyo. I went there twice: in spring and summer and I found the Hakone region peaceful. It is quite possible to take a day trip from Tokyo but I recommend staying overnight.
view of Mount Fuji
Note that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji. It’s therefore difficult to get a clear view. However, visibility tends to be better outside of summer (the months are very humid). Head early mornings and late afternoons for the best chance of seeing it. I visited Hakone twice (once in April and once in May) but only saw it once.
I suggest a loop from Moto-Hakone to the Hakone-Machi pier After a short cruise on Lake Ashinoko, head to the Hakone Ropeway cable car. Most people start with the cable car. However, I found that ending with it was much better. To avoid the crowds must mainly because the colours before sunset are beautiful.
Hakone-Yumoto to Moto-Hakone
This part is by bus to join the old Tokaido road but also the Hakone Shrine. Hakone was once the road that connected Tokyo to Kyoto during the feudal period of Edo (1603-1868). Part of the path still has the original stones!
Moto-Hakone to Hakone-machi
Do not miss this walk along the cedars, there’s also a reconstruction of the Tokaido checkpoint. Allow 20 to 30 minutes to reach the pier.
Cruise on lake Ashinoko, Motohakone-ko to Tokendai
A cruise on Lake Ashinoko is perfect for enjoying the lake and joining the Hakone ropeway cable car. The typical photo of Hakone is the red torii (gate) of the Hakone jinja shrine with Mount Fuji in the background. The cruise from Motohakone-ko to Tokendai takes about 30 minutes and costs ¥1,050. The Hakone Free Pass (see the end of the article for all the passes) is valid on the pirate ship Hakone Sightseeing Boats.
Hakone Ropeway, Togendai – Owakudani – Sounzan
Once in Tokendai, head to the Hakone ropeway cable car for a 360 ° view of the surroundings. When the visibility is good, the views of Mount Fuji are beautiful!
A transfer at Owakudani is necessary. A stop that allows visitors to admire the volcanic sources. Owakudani was created by an eruption. Today, smoke still comes out from the neighboring volcano. The smell of sulfur will make you leave quickly!
It would be a shame to come to Hakone and not go to an Onsen. Hot springs are perfect to relax. Hakone has been one of Japan’s most popular spas for centuries. If public baths aren’t your cup of tea, you can choose to stay in a Ryokan with a private one (like yama no chaya).
Souzan – Gora
This part is done by funicular with the Hakone tozan cable car.
Gora to Hakone-Yumoto
This part is done by train with the Hakone Tozan Railway. There is the Hakone Open Air Museum. However, I haven’t found it very interesting.
If you have time (not on the same day), stop in Odawara. The castle is located 10 minutes walk from Odawara station. The cherry blossoms are beautiful in spring. Unfortunately, it was raining when I visited … ????
It takes 1h30 to 2 hours to reach the Hakone region from Tokyo.
Hakone Free Pass (Odakyu Railways)
I recommend taking the Hakone Free Pass (¥5,700) to explore Hakone and its surroundings from Tokyo. It includes a round trip from Shinjuku. The pass includes bus, train, boat, cable car for 2 or 3 consecutive days. You can buy it online but also at Shinjuku and Odakyu stations.
Hakone Kamakura Pass (Odakyu Railways)
If you plan to visit Kamakura, opt for the Kamakura pass (¥7,000). It allows unlimited use of Odakyu trains, buses, trains, boats, cable cars in the Hakone region. You can also use it on Enoden trains between Enoshima and Kamakura. Some attractions are also included in the price. The Kamakura pass can be used for three consecutive days.
JR (Japan Railways)
For all the Japan Rail Pass holders, you can use it on part of the route. JR trains go to Odawara. From there, you can buy the Hakone Free Pass (¥4,600) and continue on the Odakyu railway line.