Translated by Tomoka Aono
Beautiful Nature and Hot Springs! The Best Places in Hakone - A Guide
Explore the wonderful surroundings of Hakone with this guide! We introduce the most convenient ways to reach Hakone from Tokyo, as well as the sightseeing areas and attractions in the area: Hakone Yumoto, Gora, Miyanoshita, Lake Ashi and Owakudani.
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
Where is Hakone?
Hakone is a town located in the western part of Kanagawa prefecture. A place with beautiful nature, Hakone has prospered not only as a stop between Tokyo and Kyoto but also as a refreshing hot spring resort for travelers for hundreds of years.
Hakone is a popular one-day trip destination for both domestic and international tourists as it is a mere two hour trip from Tokyo.
How to Get Around in Hakone
There are many ways to reach and travel about in Hakone, such as the Odakyu Romance Car, Hakone Railways, Hakone Cable Car, Hakone Ropeway, and the Hakone Tozan Bus.
Here are some tips for each type of transportation.
From Shinjuku to Hakone - Take Odakyu Romance Car
The fare is 2080 yen and it takes 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Climb up the Steep Slope by Hakone Tozan Train
Take the Hakone Tozan Train from Hakone Yumoto station. It is a switchback railroad, which means the train goes up the steep slope in a zigzag manner.
Another attraction of the train is being able to enjoy the scenery which changes each season. The fare is 400 yen and it takes 40 minutes to travel from Hakone Yumoto station to Gora station.
Go Up the Mountain by Hakone Cable Car
The Hakone Cable Car connects Gora station and Sounzan station. The cable car slowly climbs up the 200 m slope in vertical intervals. You can actually walk up the slope but the cable car is a much easier option.
The fare is 420 yen and it takes 9 minutes to travel from Gora station to Sounzan station.
Enjoy a Bird’s-eye View with Hakone Ropeway
The Hakone Ropeway connects Sounzan station and Togendai station. You can see stunning views of both Hakone and Mt. Fuji from the window.
The fare is 1370 yen and it takes 30 minutes to travel from Sounzan station to Togendai station.
Take Advantage of the Hakone Free Pass or a Rental Car
The Hakone Free Pass is very convenient if you want to travel around Hakone. The pass gives you free access to almost all of the public transportation available in Hakone. The shortest pass is valid for two days (adult fare - 5140 yen) and you can buy one at stations along the Odakyu Line. For details, visit Hakone Navi Official Website (English/Traditional Chinese/Simplified Chinese/Korean/Thai).
Nippon Rent-a-Car TX Asakusa Office
Renting a car is another option. If you rent a car, you don’t have to worry about the schedules or limits of public transportation while you’re traveling.
Choose whichever option suits your needs and preferences best and enjoy sightseeing at ease in Hakone.
6 Must-Visit Areas in Hakone
Hakone can be divided into six areas, each of which has its own attractive sightseeing destinations.
1. Hakone Yumoto - The Gateway to Hakone
Hakone Yumoto, where trains from Tokyo arrive, is called the gateway to Hakone. There are numerous places to see here including souvenir shops and old historical buildings.
Hakone Yumoto is also famous for its hot springs. There are over 40 hot spring inns around the area. Day use hot springs and footbaths are also available.
2. Miyanoshita - The Intersection of Japanese and Western Styles
Miyanoshita has been welcoming travelers since ancient times. Fujiya Hotel, a high-end ryokan (Japanese inn), and numerous antique shops create a unique atmosphere in this area. You can find both Japanese and Western style architecture together here.
3. Gora: Hakone Open-Air Museum and More
Gora is an area at the altitude of 700 m above sea level. Formerly a cottage town, this area still attracts many visitors today thanks to its pleasant streetscape and natural settings.
Gora has various attractive spots such as the Hakone Open-Air Museumwhere you can enjoy artworks outside together with nature. The Hakone Museum and Gora Park are also recommended spots to enjoy nature and art. This is one of the main sightseeing areas in Hakone.
4. Sengokubara - Highland Resort
Sengokubara is an area 20 minutes away from Gora station by bus. The Hakone Glass Forest Museum, Pola Museum of Art and Choanji Temple, which is particularly famous for its fall leaves, are major attractions in this area.
You can find a vast field of Japanese silver grass that shines like gold in the fall on the Sengoku Plains. Fall is the best season to visit the Sengokubara area.
5. Sounzan and Owakudani: Stunning View from the Ropeway
From the windows of the Hakone Ropeway, which starts from Sounzan, you can overlook magnificent natural views of Hakone. You can even see Mt. Fuji if you are lucky.
If you get off the ropeway at Owakudani, you can get a closer look at an impressive active volcano. Take the ropeway to see round the scenic sites of Hakone!
6. Lake Ashi and Moto-Hakone - A Vast Lake and Hakone Shrine
Lake Ashi was created by the eruption of a volcano about 3000 years ago. A corsair-themed pleasure boat operates between Togendai and Moto-Hakone and travelers can enjoy the view of the mountains of Hakone from the lake.
Hakone Shrine is located in Moto-Hakone. A huge red torii gate by the lake is quite eye-catching. If you are visiting Lake Ashi, why not stop by Moto-Hakone are as well?
Hakone is directly connected to Shinjuku and is easily accessible from anywhere in Tokyo and Kanagawa. It is a popular destination where nature and history exist in harmony. Please make a point of visiting this historically popular town and experiencing its charms for yourself.