Hakone travel guide: Access and what to do

Hakone and Lake Ashi

Hakone is renowned for the stunning views it offers of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi. Situated less than 100 km west of Tokyo, the scenic location is popular for day trips and weekend breaks.

There are a number of popular attractions in Hakone. Many people go there specifically for the onsen (hot springs) and the town has some fascinating points of cultural interest too, including the Hakone Shrine and the Hakone Open Air Museum.

Tokyo to Hakone

Hakone is set in the beautiful, mountainous Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and it is easy to get there. There are two lines you can take from Tokyo: the Tokaido Shinkansen line and the Odakyu line.

From Tokyo Station, you can take a bullet train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line to Odawara Station, which is included in the JR Pass. From Odawara you then take the Hakone Tozan train and get off at Hakone-Itabashi Station, the final destination stop.

The full trip normally takes a little less than two hours. The second part of the journey (from Odawara) is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass so it is necessary to buy a separate ticket.

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Alternatively, the Odakyu line runs between Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station and Hakone-Yumoto Station. There is an express train which takes around 85 minutes or a slower, cheaper train which takes around two hours (you change at Odawara Station).

Another option is to buy a Hakone Free Pass. It includes the return journey from Tokyo to Hakone as well as unlimited use of certain trains, cable cars, ropeways, boats, and buses, around the Hakone area.

Finally, the Odakyu Hakone highway bus company also offers direct highway buses from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Lake Ashi area in Hakone. A single trip ticket costs around 2000 yen and travel time, if the traffic is good, is roughly two hours.

Kyoto to Hakone

If you come from west or central Japan, you should travel first to Kyoto Station or Nagoya Station. From there, take the Tokaido Shinkansen line (included in your JR Pass) to either Mishima, Atami, or Odawara Station. From Mishima you can get to Lake Ashi on the Numazu Tozan Tokai bus.

From Atami Station, you can also get to Lake Ashi, on the Izuhakone bus. From Odawara, you can take the Hakone Tozan railway to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Whichever route you take the journey time is normally a little over three hours.

Getting around Hakone

Around the Hakone area there is an efficient network of buses, trains, cable cars, ropeways and boats. It is a well-connected, practical location to explore by public transport.

A popular way of seeing Hakone is by circling the area using five different types of transport, the route is known as the Hakone Round Course.

What to see in Hakone

Hakone is a popular, beautiful destination with more to offer visitors than just great views of Mount Fuji. Here are just a few of the highlights which you can see:

Hakone Shrine

The Hakone Shrine is a breathtaking sight. Its current form dates back to 1667 and, according to legend, it was the place where Priest Mangan pacified a nine-headed dragon. It stands at the foot of Mount Hakone and on the shores of Lake Ashi. A path leads you from the lake into the dense forest to the mystical shrine.

The main building is dedicated to Ninigi no Mikoto (the grandson of Amaterasu, the sun goddess), Ko no Hana (flower princess), as well as Hoori no Mikoto (the son of the other two, and the ancestor of the first emperors). Between them they symbolize the sun, flowers, and tradition.

Hakone Ropeway

The Hakone Ropeway treats visitors to some jaw-dropping views. It runs at one-minute intervals and takes around 30 minutes. It runs from Sounzan Station to Togendai Station and hugs the shore of Lake Ashi. It is part of the Hakone Round Course and each cable car takes about ten people.

Along the journey, you can see stunning views of the scenic, blue waters of Lake Ashi, the rising, volcanic smoke of Owakudani, and the sulfuric hot springs of the Owakudani Valley. The ropeway is covered by the Hakone Free Pass.

Hakone Open Air Museum

The impressive collection of 19th and 20th-century Japanese and Western sculptures is a must-see. The incredible display of artworks includes pieces by Picasso, Henry Moore, Taro Okamoto, Yasuo Mizui, and many others.

There are 120 permanent sculptures on display through the entire collection features over 1,000. It is a fun, family-friendly exhibition which is made even more special by the surrounding mountains. Kids love the giant crochet playground.

Hakone Open Air Museum
Hakone Open Air Museum – Photo by Kentaro Ohno @Flickr

 Onsens in Hakone

Hakone has been a popular place for hot spring resorts for centuries. There are more than a dozen springs which provide naturally-hot water to the numerous bathhouses in the area. Staying guests can normally use the baths for free, daytime visitors can also use the onsen for a charge.

There are around 20 hot spring resorts and each has its own unique features and medicinal qualities. They are perfect for those wanting to escape from the hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo.

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14 thoughts on “Hakone travel guide: Access and what to do”
  1. Hi there!

    Would you recommend buying the Hakone Free Pass when in Hakone – in addition to using the JR Pass?
    Or does the JR pass cover some transport within Hakone?

    We have already purchased our JR pass.

    Thank you,
    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa! Yes, it would be a good idea if you plan to travel around the area. The Japan Rail Pass will just take you to Odawara while with the Hakone Free Pass you will be entitled to also take the Hakone Tozan Train, the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, the Hakone Tozan Bus (designated area in Hakone), the Hakone Ropeway, the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise and the Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus (designated area in Hakone). Happy travels!

  2. Hello. I am taking my son for a 7-10 day trip to Japan from Jun 27 to July 4. We will be coming from Canada and will be in Tokyo for 2 days then go to Hakone for 2 days and then onto Kyoto for 2 days and back to Tokyo (or maybe another 2 days in Osaka and depart from there). I plan on getting a JRP as well as a Hakone Free Pass. Is there something similar for Kyoto and Osaka?

    Thank you.

  3. Hello.
    I plan to see mount Fuji, geeting around Hakone and then Gotemba for shopping in mid Januari.
    I will come from Kyoto by Shinkansen and then go to Tokyo. I will buy JR pass.
    Where i have to get off from Kyoto? And what route flow is best. And where i have to stay overnight in Hakone before leaving for Tokyo?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Rob! To reach Hiroshima from Kyoto with your Japan Rail Pass you can take the Hikari bullet train from Kyoto Station to Shin-Osaka Station or Shin-Kobe Station. Then, you’ll have to transfer to the Sanyo Shinkansen line for the remainder of the trip. To reach Osaka afterwards you can just undo the itinerary until Shin-Osaka, and from there you can just take the Haruka Express to get to Osaka city center. Happy travels!

  4. Please advice the best way to Hakone?

    1) Day trip from Tokyo

    or

    2) Tokyo – Kyoto ( stop at Hakone ) but worry about the luggage

    1. Hi Ray Yeow! Both options are complete doable, it will always depend on your itinerary and travel plans. In this article you have the detail. Also should you not wish to worry about luggage please note you can forward it to your accomodation in Kyoto and carry only the stuff you need. Luggage forwarding is a type of delivery service. Instead of carrying your luggage with you on public transportation or shinkansen trains you can often have it delivered directly to your destination.

  5. Hi there,
    I am travelling with a JRP from Tokyo – Hakone. Can you tel me the best hotel to stay in near a station as I will have luggage.

    From Hakone, I then have to get to Osaka – whats the best route from Hakone to Osaka please?

    Thank you very much in advance and really appreciate the detail on this page! 🙂

    1. Hi Rachel! To get from Hakone to Osaka just take a Hikari train on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen line from either Mishima, Atami o Odawara Stations (depending on the area you are staying at). This train will take you straight to Shin-Osaka Station in around 2 hours and 50 minutes and is fully included in your Japan Rail Pass.

  6. Hello,

    we are travelling with the JRP from Tokyo to Hakone on Juli 10.
    Can you recommend the best possible way to go by train leaving Tokyo early morning?
    Hotel 4 Star in Hakone centrally located but with views to Mount Fuji?
    And finally for your onwards travel by train to Kyoto?

    Much appreciated
    Anne Sophie

    1. Hi Anne Sophie!

      As detailed in this article, there are two lines you can take to go from Tokyo to Hakone: the Tokaido Shinkansen line and the Odakyu line. Please read through it for further detail.

      To go from Hakone to Kyoto you need to reach Mishima (itinerary will be different from Atami Station or from Hakone-Yumoto Station). Once there, you can just take the Tokaido Shinkansen line (included in your JR Pass) to Kyoto Station.

      Happy travels!

  7. Hi I must say I am impressed with the information that you supply on travel in Japan …. congratulations.
    2 of us in our 70’s reasonably fit are visiting Tokyo arriving at 6.35pm on Monday June 4, 2018 and leave on 8th June to go to Kobe to board a Cruise ship to tour Japan.
    We would like to catch a bullet train to Kobe on the 8th June to catch our ship.
    Travel by train to Mt Fuji and Hakone area for one of the days my wife has to avoid altitudes.
    Travel by train to other places like Hiroshima?
    could you suggest other places. Should we buy a 7 day JR Pass ?
    Regards Cary

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