If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of the elusive Mount Fuji, you may just want to try your luck at Hakone! Hakone is located west of Tokyo, within Japan’s Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The city is a mountainous region best known for its onsens (hot springs).
How to get to Hakone from Tokyo?
The easiest way to tour around Hakone from Tokyo is to get the Hakone Freepass. The 2-day freepass includes transportation on 8 facilities in the Hakone region, and costs 5,140 yen (~63 SGD). It also includes a round-trip from on the Odakyu line from Shinjuku. You can also get the freepass from Klook (may be slightly cheaper when they have discounts)!
To get to Hakone, board the express train on the Odakyu line that will get you to Hakone in two hours. You may also want to top up 890 yen (~11 SGD) each way for the limited express romance car option that will bring you straight to Hakone-Yumoto Station in 85 minutes.
Exterior and Interior of the Limited Express Romance Car
We tried out the Limited Express Romance Car for a fuss-free trip to Hakone. It was a comfortable ride with low traffic on the train.
Since we arrived on the platform early, we also got to witness the amazing Japanese technology in their trains!
How to get the tickets?
You can buy the tickets for both the free pass and the top up to the limited express romance car at the:
1. Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centre
1st floor (Ground Floor), Odakyu Railway Shinjuku Station West Exit
Found at every station on the Odakyu line
How much time is needed in Hakone?
Hakone can be completed in a day (or even half), but we do recommend staying a night in a traditional Japanese Ryokan with a kaiseki dinner and perhaps catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji! As we went during the rainy season and were on a tight schedule, we did not manage to stay a night!
Gotemba Premium outlets, Lake Kawaguchiko, as well as Fuji-Q highland are close by, and you could consider visiting these places on your trip there.
What to do in Hakone?
Almost like the Norway-in-a-nutshell, or the many Swiss mountains tour, Hakone has a round trip that would bring you to various destinations within Hakone using the transportation services included in the free pass.
We did the trip the other way around to avoid the crowd. We started off by taking a Hakone Tozan bus from Hakone-Yumoto to Moto-Hakone. Stop near Lake Ashi and you can walk over to Hakone Shrine or walk along the lake to the Sightseeing Cruise Terminal.
Most tourists and travellers will immediately follow the path to Hakone Shrine, but we aren't so we're taking the other way!
Lake Ashi with Hakone Shrine's Torii gate and Mt. Komagatake in the distance
On a less cloudy day, you should also be able to see Mount Fuji somewhere around here. As you walk along Lake Ashi, in the opposite direction of the shrine, you will also be able to walk through Cedar Avenue - remnants of an ancient road.
Walking along Cedar Avenue
Visit also, the Old Tokaido and Hakone Checkpoint to learn about the history of how it controlled traffic during the Edo period. You can walk through the checkpoint, but to visit the exhibits, a nominal fee (of 400 yen with the Hakone freepass) is required.
Walking through Old Tokaido and Hakone Checkpoint
After passing the checkpoint, you will see the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (Viking ship). Check the timing of the next ferry while you visit the nearby stores.
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on a Viking Ship
Boarding the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise
Matcha Ice Cream while waiting
It was a 40-minute scenic cruise, arriving at Togendai-ko. We recommend going to the open deck for better views!
Here, you'll take the Hakone ropeway up to Owakudani. You'll be greeted by volcanic fumes of from the crater.
View of Owakudani crater and its volcanic fumes
There were supposed to be hiking trails around the crater, unfortunately it was closed due to the dangerous fumes.
Hello Kitty greeting you at the entrance of the Owakudani store selling the black eggs
A must-do is also to purchase the black eggs at Owakudani station. It didn't taste anything different from regular eggs but the way it was boiled (in natural spring water that contains sulphur) made it turn black. Also, it supposedly lengthens your lifespan! While peeling and eating the hot eggs, we also noticed many elderly japanese purchasing the eggs. We were joking that perhaps having these eggs were like a birthday ritual. Be thankful for every additional year you are alive!
Owakudani Black Eggs
The store also sold several souvenirs and you may wish to spend some time before heading down.
The trip back down on the Hakone Ropeway was an interesting experience. As the cable car brings you directly across the crater, they gave us towels to cover our mouths and noses while on the ropeway. The cable car will first pass Souzan station before arriving its final stop - Gora station.
Right outside the Gora station, you may exit to explore the shops, or have a tofu-based cuisine.
Finally, make you way back to Hakone Yumoto station via the Hakone Tozan Rail.
We've completed the route under 6 hours and even though we didn't manage to see Mount Fuji, it was a great respite from the crowds in Tokyo city!