Translated by Tomoka Aono
A Day Trip From Tokyo: Places To See In Hakone-Yumoto
Hakone-Yumoto is the gateway of the Hakone area. With over 40 hot spring inns near the station along with souvenir shops, here you can enjoy Hakone to the fullest.
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
Hakone is a small town surrounded by mountains in southwest of Kanagawa prefecture. As it is easily accessed from Tokyo, Hakone has been a popular day trip destination for tourists, especially Hakone-Yumoto (箱根湯本) which attracts a lot of tourists as a gateway to the Hakone area. There are over 40 Onsen-yado (hot spring inns) near the station along with souvenir shops, so you can spend a whole day there and enjoy Hakone to the fullest.
Here are popular spots near Hakone-Yumoto station.
Shōtengai - A Charming Shop Alley
Right in front of Hakone-Yumoto station is the shōtengai (shopping street) which spans the length of the road. Here you will find a series of series of souvenir shops and street food stalls about 200 meters long.
Fried fish balls and manjū (steamed buns) with red bean paste are sold here for you to try. It’s a shopping arcade, so you can enjoy strolling even on a rainy day.
Hakone no Ichi ("Hakone Market") is a souvenir shop inside Hakone-Yumoto station. You can find a variety of souvenirs here which are also sold in different shops along the shōtengai, so if you want to save some time, this is a good place for quick souvenir hunt.
Scenic View from Ajisai-bashi
You will find a wide river called Hayakawa in front of you when you exit Hakone-Yumoto station. Spanning Hayakawa is the beautiful red Ajisai-bashi bridge. It's only a one minute walk from the station.
Don’t miss the wonderful view from Ajisai-bashi. Hiroshige Utagawa, one of the most famous ukiyo-e or woodblock print artists in Japan, visited this bridge and created many works using the sights he saw of the amazing landscape.
What we see today from the bridge is not exactly the same as what Utagawa saw at that time, but its beauty still impresses those who visit the place. It’s very nice during spring and summer, but the best season is fall because you will get to see a multitude of beautiful colored leaves.
Get Closer to the River
You can find stairs leading down to the river near Ajisai-bashi. There are pathways along the river, which are perfect for strolling on a sunny day.
Or you may want to get some food from the shōtengai and have a picnic here. Watching the calm river will make you feel safe and sound.
The view from the riverside is somewhat different than that from the bridge. You can capture the whole span of Ajisai-bashi bridge as its red contrasts strikingly with the greenery and blue sky behind.
Feel Ancient Japan at Sōunji Temple
From Ajisai-bashi bridge, if you walk up a steep slope you will find Sōunji Temple (早雲寺).
This temple was built during the Edo Period and named after Hōjō Sōun, a samurai who ruled over the Kantō Region at that time. A lot of historical and cultural treasures are stored inside this temple.
Old trees and mossy architectures catch your eyes. Once you step into the site, you will realize everything you see around has been there for hundreds of years.
Being at Sōunji Temple combines the unique experience of being surrounded by nature with the sensation that you have traveled back in time. Visit there to breathe in the atmosphere of ancient Japan.
How to get to Hakone-Yumoto
Hakone-Yumoto station is easily accessed from Tokyo. You can take Odakyū Romance Car bound for Hakone-Yumoto from Shinjuku, which only takes an hour and a half.
If you prefer to take local trains, take the JR Tōkaidō line or Odakyū Odawara line to Odawara station, and from there take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Hakone-Yumoto. The whole trip takes about 2 hours.
From Hakone-Yumoto station, you can take Hakone Tozan Railway or Cable Cars to visit different spots in Hakone, which is why the station is called the “gateway of Hakone.”
Hakone-Yumoto is a wonderful gateway to Hakone with tons of attractions such as the shops and scenery introduced in this article. Hakone appeals to people in different ways than the large cities. Here, history and nature come together in a beautiful way.
Let’s leave Tokyo for a day to see and feel the charm of Hakone!