Situated to the southwest of Tokyo, Hakone is a mountainous area dominated by Japan’s tallest peak, Mt. Fuji. Aside from its eye-popping views of that iconic volcano and Lake Ashi, Hakone is famous for its hot springs (onsen) as well as traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) where taking a bath in hot spring water is the best way to relax. A collection of museums and volcanic sulphurous hot springs such as Owakudani completes the attractions. With quick and convenient rail and bus connections, Hakone can easily be done as a day trip from Tokyo.
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Hakone is part of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, but this wilderness area is actually home to seven hot springs towns including Hakone Yumoto and Miyanoshita. When it’s not hidden by clouds, Mt. Fuji presents a breathtaking sight on the horizon; the best time to catch a glimpse of the mountain is the winter months of December to February. Riding the Hakone Tozan Line, a railway snaking up the mountainsides, is an enjoyable way to get around.
Tokyo to Hakone By Train
Hakone lies in Kanagawa Prefecture about 78 km southwest of central Tokyo. It’s located along the major rail and road networks linking the capital with the cities of Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. There are seven train stations in the town of Hakone itself, but they’re all on the Hakone Tozan Line mountain train. The main gateway to the area is the line’s Hakone-Yumoto Station, situated on the eastern edge of Hakone. From there, the line climbs into the mountains to Gora Station.
This article will introduce the best ways to get to Hakone both with and without a Japan Rail Pass, which is not accepted on Odakyu Electric Railway trains leaving from Shinjuku Station.
Odakyu Electric Railway (Romancecar)
The quickest direct route to Hakone from Tokyo is on the Odakyu Electric Railway. It runs trains to Hakone from Shinjuku Station, a major hub in Tokyo and the busiest train station in the world. The Odakyu Limited Express Romancecar travels from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station in about an hour and a half. Some versions of these trains have features such as observation decks and saloon seats.
The Romancecar trains require seat reservations, which can be made at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center near the West Exit of Shinjuku Station, at Odakyu Line ticket machines, or online at the e-Romancecar site.
A one-way ticket from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station on the Romancecar train costs 2,080 yen including the limited express surcharge. If you’re traveling on regular Odakyu trains, the price is 1,190 yen, but a transfer at Odawara Station or Fujisawa Station may be required. Note that the Japan Rail Pass cannot be used on this line because it’s not part of the Japan Railways network.
However, Odakyu does offer the Hakone Freepass, which can be used on eight forms of transport to and around Hakone, including the Hakone Tozan Line trains, the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, the Hakone Tozan Ropeway, as well as local buses. The Freepass is valid for two days. It’s 5,140 yen for adults and 1,500 yen for children departing from Shinjuku, and can be purchased at Odakyu ticket machines or at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center near the West Exit of Shinjuku Station.
Odakyu also offers the three-day Fuji-Hakone Pass, which allows users to ride on transportation to and around Hakone as well as discounts on admission to more than 50 local facilities. The price is 8,000 yen for adults and 4,000 yen for children departing from Shinjuku Station, and 5,650 yen for adults and 2,800 yen for children departing from Odawara Station. It’s available at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at both stations.
If you’re traveling on a Japan Rail Pass, JR East trains can quickly get you to Odawara Station, where you can hop on the Hakone Tozan Line mountain train. Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains leaving from Tokyo Station travel to Odawara in 35 minutes (the price without a Japan Rail Pass is 3,220 yen); those leaving from Shinagawa Station take 27 minutes (the price without a Japan Rail Pass is 3,050 yen). Note that only Hikari and Kodama Shinkansen services stop at Odawara.
Slower options include JR Tokaido Main Line trains, which take 1 hour and 13 minutes to travel from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station (1,490 yen without a Japan Rail Pass). JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line trains can get you from Shinjuku Station to Fujisawa Station, where you can catch the Tokaido Main Line for Odawara (a trip of 1 hour, 20 minutes that costs 1,490 yen without a Japan Rail Pass).
From Odawara Station, the Hakone Tozan Line mountain train brings passengers into the mountains, stopping at stations including Hakone Yumoto (16 minutes, 310 yen), Miyanoshita (51 minutes, 580 yen), and the terminus Gora (1 hour, 670 yen), where you can get on the Hakone Ropeway gondola. A transfer at Hakone-Yumoto may be required.
Tokyo to Hakone By Bus
Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus operates coaches going from the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (Basuta Shinjuku) to Gotemba (1,680 yen) in the northern part of Hakone, continuing on to Hakone Togendai (2,010 yen) on Lake Ashi, where you can catch the Hakone Ropeway gondola. Odakyu buses following a similar route also leave from Tokyo Station for Gotemba and Hakone Togendai (1,650/2,160 yen).
Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus also runs coaches from Haneda Airport and Yokohama Station to Gotemba (2,060/1,650 yen) and Hakone Togendai (2,260/1,950 yen), as well as Haneda and Yokohama to Hakone-Yumoto Station (1,950/1,540 yen).
Article by Tim Hornyak. All rights reserved.