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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.

Located roughly 60 miles west of Tokyo, Hakone is a perfect day trip destination.

Get the most out of your Tokyo to Hakone day trip and follow this one-day handpicked Hakone itinerary. Here are 7 fun things you can’t miss!

For a complete list of things to do in Hakone, make sure to check out: 19 Amazing THINGS to DO in HAKONE (Useful Maps+Photos+Practical Tips)

You might also like:

HAKONE FREE PASS – Is It Worth Buying?

14 Exceptional Must-See Things at HAKONE OPEN AIR MUSEUM

How to Get from Tokyo to Hakone

From Tokyo Station in Tokyo take either JR East Tokaido Line or JR Central Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Westbound to Odawara Station in Odawara.

If you have JR Pass, then your trip on either JR East Tokaido Line or JR Central Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Westbound will be covered by the pass.

If you decide to take JR East Tokaido Line, then you will be able to reserve your seats online and pick them up at several convenient locations. 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. Traveling on JR Central Tokaido-Sanyo Central Shinkansen is comfortable and fast. It will get you to Odawara in only 35 minutes.

Once you arrive at Odawara, take the West Exit and proceed to board the Odakyu Line Train.

Odakyu Line 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.

The second option for getting from Tokyo 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 Romancecar is not covered by JR Pass.

Romancecar is called ‘Romancecar’ for nothing. It is one of the most luxurious trains in Japan. It has fully reclining seats, panoramic windows, and full onboard service. In addition, it travels through some most spectacular areas with views of Mt Fuji in the distance.

Should you Get Hakone Free Pass

Should you get Hakone Free Pass? 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 and unlimited use of eight Hakone-area transportation modes. Plus, you will get discounts on entrance tickets to all major attractions in Hakone.

Make sure to read my helpful post: Hakone Free Pass – Is It Worth Buying? and find out:

  • which pass to buy (different options are available)
  • how much does Hakone Free Pass cost (it is called ‘Free Pass’, however, it is not ‘Free’)
  • where can you buy the pass
  • what is included in Hakone Free Pass
  • how much will you save if you buy the pass

Intrepid’s Tip: 

Read: Hakone Free Pass – Is It Worth Buying?

Do the Hakone Loop Counterclockwise

The best way to explore Hakone is by circling the region by going either clockwise or counterclockwise. It is known as ‘Hakone Loop‘.

My preferred method is to go counterclockwise.

Hakone Map

Hakone Map /  Photo Credit: Hakone Free Pass / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

To Print the Map of Hakone

Click: HERE

Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip - 7 Fun Things to Do


Visit Stunning Odawara Castle

If you are traveling 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

Odawara Castle / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

Odawara Castle was 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 the 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. Make sure to go to the top floor of the tower and enjoy a full view of Sagami Bay.

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. However, if you are limited on time, then make sure to at least visit the Castle Tower.

Odawara Castle Samurai Museum

Tokiwagi Gate Samurai Museum / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

I would recommend getting a 3-Hall Common Ticket that covers the Castle Tower, Tokiwagi Gate, and Odawara Castle Historical Observations Hall. However, if you are limited on time, then make sure to at least visit the Castle Tower.

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. Your next stop will be Hakone Open-Air Museum!

However, what you need to know is that a ride on Hakone Tozan Train, Japan’s oldest mountain railway, is a treat for more than just railway fans!

Things to Do in Hakone

Hakone Tozan Train / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

The Hakone Tozan Train is built to climb 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!


Explore Hakone Open-Air Museum

Once you get to Chokoku-no-mori Station follow the signs for Hakone Open-Air Museum. It is no more than a 10-minute walk from the 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.

Its collections include some of the world’s most significant sculptures and works of art of the late 19th and 20th centuries 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’s creations. It includes more than 300 of Picasso’s works, comprising oil paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, and gold objects.

One of the most popular pieces at Hakone Open Air Museum is the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire.

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 Museum.

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.

The opening 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.

Hakone Open-Air Museum / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

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.

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip


Take the Ropeway to Owakudani (Hell Valley)

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.

Owakudani Valley in Hakone / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

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 eggshell 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.

Owakudani BLack Eggs / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

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 the Hakone Tozan ropeway will be covered by the pass.

Once you reach Togendai-ko, follow the signs for Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi.


Go on 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.

Did you know that Lake Ashi is a crater lake created by a phreatic (stem and minerals) eruption 3000 years ago? It sits at 725 meters (2,378 feet) above sea level. Lake Ashi has a circumference of 21 km (11 miles). It abounds in black bass and trout.

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.

Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip


Learn About Hakone's History at Famous Hakone Checkpoint

Hakone Checkpoint and Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall are about a 10-minute walk from Hakone Machi-ko port.

I find this part of a 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 the Shogunate.

Once you reach Hakone Checkpoint, you will be able to see a historically accurate restoration of the original checkpoint.

Do not miss Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall. It displays many artifacts of the Edo period, such as travel certificates, officials’ diaries, and samurai weaponry.

The opening hours are 9 am to 5 pm and the last entry is at 4:30 pm. Moreover, the entrance fee is 500 yen, however, if you have the Hakone Free Pass, then you can purchase a discounted ticket for 450 yen.

Hakone Checkpoint and Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip


Take a Leisurely Stroll on 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.

Ancient Cedar Avenue in Hakone

Ancient Cedar Avenue in Hakone / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip


Visit Spectacular Hakone-jinja Shrine

Next, continue your stroll and follow the signs for Hakone-jinja Shrine.

The shrine was founded in 757 and it was where Tokugawa and other samurai families worshiped.

I have to say that of all the shrines I visited in Japan, this shrine 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 torii. Here, tourists line up to take some great pictures of lake Ashi framed by torii.

Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

Ancient Cedar Avenue in Hakone / Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

This is the end of the sightseeing loop and now it is time to get back to Tokyo.

The 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.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip

This is quite a list, right? What if you had time to do just a couple of things? Ok, no problem. Here are my recommendations of the absolute top things to do in Hakone:

  •  Take the ropeway – you will love it! The views of the Owakudani Valley are awesome and I do hope that you get to see Mt Fuji.
  • Do not miss the cruise on Lake Ashi – the scenery is stunning no matter when you are visiting!

Read All the Posts About Japan in: 

Japan Travel Guide

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Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Hakone?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

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10 thoughts on “Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip (7 Fun Things You Can’t Miss)

  1. Phil Morris

    Hi Anna, Thank you so much for this, we will be going to Japan next year and it is difficult to find posts with such detail with regards to sightseeing. We will be staying one night in Hakone then on to Takayama.


    1. 2019-08-28

      Hi Phil,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I am so glad you found my article useful. If this is your first visit to Hakone, then you will find the entire area very charming and abundant with variety of things to do for every taste. I hope you had a chance to review my other post on Hakone, where I listed 19 Unmissable Things to Do in Hakone. It goes over everything there is to do and see. It might give you a couple more ideas to add to your itinerary.

  2. Thanks for sharing.
    Japan is amazing place for a great vacation with the kids.

    1. 2019-09-04

      Thank you so much for your comment!
      Are you traveling to Japan soon? Or, have you just visited?

  3. Peggy

    I love this this great article! We are in Tokyo and have been looking for good instructions to make the trip to Hakone. I visited the open air museum in 1972 when I was 9 and have always hoped to go back. With your helpful information we are making arrangements! Thank you so much!!

    1. 2019-10-09

      Hi Peggy,
      I am beyond happy that you find my article useful!
      Have a great time in Hakone and let me know if I can be of further assistance!

  4. Emily

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks so much for laying this all out so well. Have been going back and forth on doing this day trip in April, but definitely adding it to our list now! About what time do you think you’d head back to Tokyo following this method? Also any recommendations for where/when on this itinerary to eat?

    1. 2020-02-09

      Hi Emily,
      Going to Hakone takes an entire day. Go as early as possible and plan on staying as long as you can, meaning, if it starting getting dark, then it is time to head back. Wherever I go, I start as early as possible, and I stay as long as I can. You are going in April, so the days will start getting longer. As far as lunch, there is always some options for a quick bite. Again, I am a type of a traveler that has a few protein bars in the backpack also a cup of tea and or coffee would carry me on as well.
      The entire Hakone area is so beautiful. April will be just lovely! Enjoy!

  5. Regina Pinto

    Realmente interessante. Adorei o post e veio em otima hora pois estou preparando minha viagem para outubro. Tinhamos tudo reservado para abril mas a pandemia mudou todos os planos. Vou seguir tuas recomendações a risca. Muito lindo brigada pelas dicas.

    1. 2020-04-21

      Thank you so much for your kind comment! I hope your trip works out in October. I had to change many of my plans as well. By the way, I used google translate and it detected Portuguese. Are you from Portugal? If yes, then I just want to say that I went to Portugal many years ago and I truly loved this beautiful country.

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