This site uses affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
Photo Credit: Hakone Free Pass
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Don’t have time to read it now?
Save it for later!
Pin it on your Pinterest board!
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!
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’.
Owakudani black eggs or “Kuro-tamago” are basically hard boiled chicken eggs in the Owakudani’s hot water pools.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here you can get great views of Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji as well.
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.
The road leading to it will give you many opportunities to capture some breathtaking pictures.
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!
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.
Did you find this useful?
Make sure to pin it on your Pinterest board!
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.