Best Of, City Guides, Japan, Kanto

Things to do in Hakone: A Quick Trip from Tokyo

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Hakone is a mountain town located just a few hours from Tokyo. You can enjoy a view of Mount Fuji, many nature walks, visit shrines, and of course – the crisp mountain air. You can also enjoy Japan’s favorite pastime – bathing in an onsen!

Hakone Travel Guide - A train in Hakone
Train in Hakone

Hakone is a great destination if you’re looking for a quick trip from Tokyo. I have visited Hakone twice, once on my first trip to Tokyo, and another time when I visited Tokyo during the pandemic recently.

Read on to find out more details on how to visit Hakone!

  1. How many days should I spend in Hakone?
  2. What is Hakone Free Pass?
  3. How to get to Hakone from Tokyo
  4. How to get around Hakone
  5. Luggage Services in Hakone
  6. The Hakone Round Course (Hakone Loop)
  7. Things to do in Hakone
  8. Where to stay in Hakone
  9. Where to eat in Hakone

How many days should I spend in Hakone?

Hakone is doable as a day trip as well as a short 2-3 days trip from Tokyo. If you want to do a day trip, you can leave Tokyo early in the morning and follow the Hakone round course, which will allow you to see a lot of things in Hakone in a loop. Then, you can take the night train back to Tokyo.

However, I personally think 2 days is the sweet spot for Hakone. It allows you to stay overnight and not rush too much. I recommend staying at a Ryokan overnight, which will give you that quintessential Japanese experience.

What is Hakone Free Pass?

First and foremost, let’s talk about Hakone Free Pass, a pass designed for tourists to save money while visiting Hakone from Tokyo. Because it is such a good deal, I will be mentioning this pass multiple times throughout this post.

Hakone Free Pass includes a lot of things – a round trip to Hakone from Tokyo, a lake cruise at Ashi lake, and unlimited public transport in Hakone. All of these are essential if you plan to follow the Hakone Round Course.

The pass also gives you discounts on most attractions in Hakone (see the list)

Tip 💡: Buy Hakone Free Pass here and redeem it at Shinjuku station!

There are different prices for Hakone Free Pass, depending on validity. There are 2-day and 3-day passes:

  • From Shinjuku: The one I linked assumes you start your journey from Tokyo, thus it includes a round-trip train from Shinjuku to Hakone. Most visitors coming from Tokyo should choose this option.
  • From Odawara: If you have an Unlimited JR pass, then you could use your JR Pass for your journey up to Odawara. You can get Hakone free pass at Odawara for slightly cheaper. I will elaborate more below on which way I think is the best.

If you are planning on doing the Hakone round course, this pass is definitely worth it.

How to get from Tokyo to Hakone

To get to Hakone, you’ll want to aim for Hakone-Yumoto station. The most convenient way to do this from Tokyo is by train unless you want to rent a car and drive yourself. Here are different options to get to Hakone:

1. By Odakyu local express train (The cheapest way)

To get from Tokyo to Hakone, you can take a local train on the Odakyu line, which is included in the Hakone Free Pass. If you’re thinking of going to Hakone this way, definitely buy Hakone Free Pass since all the fares are included! You can take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku station to Hakone-Yumoto station.

This journey will take 2 hours and requires a change of train at Odawara station. Keep in mind you’ll be taking the local train which means it will stop at every stop along the way. And, if the train is crowded you might not have a seat. So, you might want to consider topping up a little bit for the direct train, which I’ll talk about next.

2. Direct train by Romancecar (Fastest and most convenient)

Odakyu Romancecar is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Hakone, as it is a direct train and does not require you to transfer to a different train. The journey will start at Shinjuku station and will take 80 minutes to reach Hakone-Yumoto station.

If you have purchased the Hakone Free Pass, you can travel on the Romancecar by topping up a limited express surcharge of 1,110 yen (about US$8) per person, which you can buy here. You can also reserve your seat from that same link, so you don’t need to worry about not having a good seat on the train.

3. Using your existing JR Pass, if you have one

If you are traveling around Japan, you might already have an Unlimited JR Pass. If so, you could save some money by taking a JR train to Odawara station from Tokyo station or Shinagawa station, which will be included with your JR Pass.

From Odawara, you can then continue on to Hakone-Yumoto station. Once you reach Odawara station, you can purchase Hakone Free Pass at a lesser price than what you’d pay at Shinjuku station (5,000 yen vs 6,100 yen for the 2-day pass) because it does not include the trip from Shinjuku to Odawara.

However, you need to carefully consider whether the 1,100 yen (US$8) saving is worth it, considering you’d be traveling on local trains, so your seat is not guaranteed and you need to transfer in Odawara. If you just want to go directly from Shinjuku and take the direct train, then you should still purchase the Hakone Free Pass that’s valid from Shinjuku, then top up 1,100 yen for the romance car I described above.

4. By Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus

I don’t recommend taking the bus as the train is by far the most convenient way to travel in Japan. However, if you still prefer to take the bus, you can do so from Shinjuku to Lake Ashi. This bus is also included in Hakone Free Pass. The journey will take about 2 hours depending on traffic.

5. Rent a car and drive to Hakone from Tokyo

This is one of the most convenient and easy options if you don’t want to depend on public transport. Driving in Japan requires an International Driving License. This is the option that I personally went with since I did not want to waste time with public transport. You can book a car rental from Tokyo, which you can pick up from the airport or in the city:

It goes without saying that if you choose to drive, then you won’t need to get the Hakone Free Pass.

How to get around Hakone

There is plenty of public transport in Hakone. There are buses, ropeways, trains, and even a funicular cable car. All of these are included in the Hakone Free Pass!

If you keep reading below, I’ll tell you exactly how you can use all types of transport when you explore Hakone Round Course.

Hakone Funicular
Hakone Funicular

Luggage Services in Hakone-Yumoto Station

Hakone-Yumoto station is the entry point to Hakone. If you are arriving in Hakone with lots of luggage, or if you are short on time and want to explore Hakone right away before dropping off your luggage, you might be wondering what your options are.

1. Luggage Delivery Service at Hakone-Yumoto station

At Hakone-Yumoto station, there is a convenient luggage delivery service that can deliver your luggage to your accommodation so that you can explore Hakone freely. The caveat is that you need to drop off your luggage by 12:30 PM, so this is only applicable if you arrive in Hakone in the AM.

The service also works the other way around – you can also leave your luggage at the hotel counter to be sent to the Hakone-Yumoto station when you check out so that you can again explore Hakone before leaving.

This service cost 900-1,600 yen per luggage one way, depending on the weight and size of your luggage. I think this is very reasonable. Find out more about the luggage delivery service here!

💡 Tip: You will get 100 yen off the luggage delivery service if you have Hakone Free Pass.

2. Lockers and Luggage Storage in Hakone

Just like most of Japan, there are plenty of lockers at nearly every train station in Hakone. So if you’re just planning to stop by Hakone for the day, you can use these lockers to store your luggage while you explore Hakone.

Generally, lockers are only for day use. You could leave the bags in the locker overnight, for a maximum of 3 days, but it will cost you more if you use the locker overnight.

You can choose the size of the lockers, ranging from 300 – 700 yen. Here is a photo of what it typically look like:

Coin lockers at JR station

You can’t really see from the photo, but the locker is very deep. The 300 yen option is good for backpacks (the large kind you take for backpacking trips), while the 700 yen option would fit very large luggage. The 300 yen one might look small but you can fit a 10kg backpack laying flat with plenty more room, so I think bigger backpacks would fit too.

Lockers in Hakone in Chokokunomori station
Lockers in Hakone in Chokokunomori station

Take note that the locker fee is only good to open the locker once, so if you forget something and need to take your luggage out, you’ll need to pay another set of fees. And don’t forget where your locker is located! You might want to take a photo of it just so you don’t have a hard time locating it later.

The Hakone Round Course Itinerary (Hakone Loop)

The most popular way to enjoy Hakone is to do the Hakone round course, which is a loop with many attractions to see along the way. You can do this in one day, making it the perfect itinerary for a day trip from Tokyo.

Best of all, transportation in the Hakone loop is covered by Hakone Free Pass so you don’t need to worry about the cost!

Map of Hakone Round Course

Here is a map of the Hakone Round Course so that you can visualize it better. I will explain the map further below!

Map of Hakone Attractions
Map of Hakone Attractions

🗺 Save this map to your phone! If you are a Google user, click on the image of the map above. The map will then be saved to your “Recent” maps viewed. Click here for instructions on how to view the map later. It will work from your phone too.

Here are the places included in the round course. The numbers below are also corresponding to my Hakone map above.

  1. Hakone-Yumoto station – Start from Hakone-Yumoto station. This is likely where you will start your journey to Hakone from Tokyo.
  2. Gora – From Hakone-Yumoto station, take the Hakone Tozan Railway train to Gora. You can stop by Hakone Open Air Museum on the way (More on that below)
  3. Sounzan – From Gora, you can take the funicular railway/cable car up to Sounzan. You can stop by Hakone Gora Park along the way (More on that below)
  4. Togendai – From Sounzan, take the ropeway up to Togendai. You’ll need to transfer to another ropeway line in Owakudani, which means you’ll need to stop there, but is totally worth getting off here and exploring! (More on that below). PS: Occasionally the ropeway will be out of service due to the weather or planned maintenance, but a substitute bus route will still be available.
  5. Hakonemachi-ko – From Togendai, you can make your way to Lake Ashi and take the Lake Ashi cruise to Hakonemachi-ko.
  6. Motohakone-ko – From Hakonemachi-ko, you can then walk along the waterfront towards MotoHakone-ko, enjoying the Old Tokaido Road Ancient Cedar Avenue along the way. This will take you to Hakone Shrine and Heiwai no Tori (More on that below)
  7. Back to Hakone-Yumoto – From Moto-Hakone, you can then go back to Hakone-Yumoto via the bus.

There are many different ways to do the loop. First of all, it IS a loop so you can start at any point. You don’t need to do the loop in the exact order I described above, and you don’t need to do it all in one day. You could reverse the order – For example, so you can go to Moto-Hakone first from Hakone-Yumoto station and start from there, or you can break it up into 2 days.

Alternatively, if you’re staying overnight in Hakone, you can even start from the point closest to your accommodation. The possibilities are endless!

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Funicular
Hakone Funicular

Things to do in Hakone

There is a reason why Hakone is a popular trip from Tokyo. This town is practically made for visitors. There are so many things to see and do here! Let’s go into detail about each of them one by one:

1. Hakone Open Air Museum

I missed out on going to Hakone Open Air Museum on my first visit to Hakone. But I’m so glad I made it here on my second visit! This is definitely a place you should not miss, especially if the weather is cooperating – most of the art exhibitions are outdoors.

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Open Air Museum, The Weeper
The Weeper, one of the outdoor art exhibit right by the entrance of the museum
Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Open Air Museum
Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Open Air Museum, The Weeper
Cosmical Color Space by Shigeo Matsubara

This museum is also a great place for kids – in fact, a few of the art exhibit is definitely geared toward kids. There is an entire structure made of wood called “Woods of Net”, and inside there are colorful hand-knit nets kids can play in. My toddler definitely enjoyed his time here.

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Open Air Museum
Woods of Net at Hakone Open Air Museum
Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Open Air Museum
Woods of Net at Hakone Open Air Museum

Set aside about two hours to explore this museum. The museum covers a large ground and there are a few buildings with exhibits you might want to see in more detail, such as the Picasso collection.

Admission: 1600 yen for adults. Free for children.

💡 Tip: Enjoy a 200 yen discount for admission to Hakone Open Air Museum if you have Hakone Free Pass

2. Hakone Gora Park

Hakone Gora Park is a small garden with plenty of flowers and trees. It’s a great place to visit all year round, but most notably during the Sakura season in Spring and Momiji season in Fall.

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Gora Park
Hakone Gora Park
Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Gora Park
Fountain at Hakone Gora Park

If you happen to visit during Spring as I did, make sure to check the different types of Sakura in the park. There are ten different sakura types here, including the weeping Sakura and Kawazu-sakura.

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Gora Park
Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Gora Park
Weeping Sakura at Hakone Gora Park

You can set aside about an hour to explore this area. There is a small cafe and gift shop inside the park. I got a cute pair of Sakura-shaped earrings from this place, on sale!

Admission: 500 yen for adults. Free for children.

💡 Tip: Admission to Gora park is FREE if you have Hakone Free Pass

3. Owakudani

If you’re taking the Hakone round course, you’ll inevitably end up at Owakudani. Owakudani is a great place to see Mount Fuji… if she decides to show herself!

Mount Fuji from Hakone Ropeway
Mount Fuji from Hakone Ropeway

You have to adjust your expectations because Mount Fuji is not always visible. If it’s raining or if it’s too cloudy, it can be difficult to spot. There is also a higher chance to see Mount Fuji in the winter months when the weather is dry with low humidity.

From my experience, I do feel that Mount Fuji is easier to spot in the morning before the clouds come. During my first trip to Tokyo, I spent 2 days in Hakone in May and got to see Mount Fuji on the second morning.

Tip: You can view a live cam to see how the weather conditions are in the morning.

At Owakudani, you can also see the black lava eggs that are boiled using the natural hot springs water. The sulfur in the water gave a unique black color to the eggs, but aside of that they are just regular chicken eggs and safe to eat.

Hakone Travel Guide - Lava eggs at Owakudani
Lava eggs at Owakudani
Hakone Travel Guide - Owakudani
Hakone Travel Guide - Owakudani
Panorama shot of Owakudani
Hakone Travel Guide - A shot Owakudani Ropeway Station from above
A shot Owakudani Ropeway Station from above

4. Lake Ashi Cruise

Taking the Lake Ashi cruise on a pirate ship is one of the must-do things in Hakone. The cruise takes about 25 minutes from Togendai to Hakonemachi-ko, and it’s definitely the more scenic way to go. You’ll also see some red torii gates in the water along the way!

Hakone Travel Guide - Pirate Ships at Lake Ashi
Pirate Ships at Lake Ashi

Ticket Price: 1,200 yen per person

💡 Tip: Lake Ashi cruise is free if you have Hakone Free Pass. You’ll want to take the pirate ship for the free ride.

5. Hakone Shrine and Heiwa no Torii (Torii of Peace)

Hakone Shrine is a Shinto shrine located along the shore of Lake Ashi. The shrine dates back to the year 757 but was only relocated to the current location in 1667.

Hakone Travel Guide - One of the torii leading up to the Hakone shrine
One of the torii leading up to the Hakone shrine

One thing you might want to do while at the shrine (or any other Shinto shrine in Japan) is purchase an Omamori, a small amulet containing a blessed piece of wood meant to protect you or you can gift it to your loved ones for their protection. They cost about 500-800 yen and there are different types of Omamori for different purposes – for health, giving birth, for students, etc.

Hakone Travel Guide - The famous Heiwa no Torii at Hakone Shrine
The famous Heiwa no Torii at Hakone Shrine

After the shrine, you can head down to see Heiwa no Torii (Torii of Peace) at the waterfront. This is the famous torii that is located right at the shore of Lake Ashi, partially submerged in water. Because this torii is very famous, there might be a long line to take photos if you’re there on weekend or during a Japanese holiday. But I have been there on a Thursday and there was no one there!

Hakone Travel Guide - Heiwa no Torii
Heiwa no Torii

A visit to the shrine is free of charge, but if you want to visit the small museum at the shrine, the Treasure House, then there is a 500 yen admission fee.

💡 Tip: Enjoy a 100 yen discount to the Treasure House if you have Hakone Free Pass

6. Forest Therapy at Hakone Kuzuryu Forest (箱根九頭龍の森 入口)

Hakone Kuzuryu no Mori, aka Hakone Kuzuryu Forest, is a nature park along the eastern waterfront of Lake Ashi. It is a bit out of the way from the Hakone round course, but it does mean you’ll meet fewer people.

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Kuzuryu Forest
Forest Therapy walk at Hakone Kuzuryu Forest

To get to Hakone Kuzuryu Forest, you can enter from the trail at the car park of Hakone Kojiri Terminal (there is a spot called Hakone Kuzuryu Forest Therapy, which marks the start of the trailhead), or you can enter from the small trail from The Prince Hakone Ashinoko (This spot on google maps marks the start of the trailhead). From those points, it is 20-30 minutes by foot through a calming “forest therapy”.

Oh yes! you’ll get to practice “forest therapy” along the way. Forest therapy is the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which is literally translated as “forest bathing”, but it just means taking a slow walk in nature and appreciating nature through our senses.

I think it’s totally worth the detour. You’ll get to see a white torii gate called Hakuryu shrine. As you’ll notice by now, torii gates are usually painted in the red vermillion color you’ll see everywhere in Hakone, so this white one is rare.

Hakone Travel Guide - Hakone Kuzuryu Forest
White Torii in Hakone Kuzuryu Forest

There is also a lesser-known torii over water at Kuzuryu Shrine. Unlike the one at the Hakone shrine, this torii is smaller and properly IN the water!

Hakone Travel Guide - Lake Ashi
Floating torii at Kuzuryū Shrine as seen from Lake Ashi cruise

Take note that the park is closed by 5 pm and the last admission is at 4:30 pm! The hours change by season so please check the hours here. Expect to spend about 45 minutes at this park.

Admission: 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for kids 4 years old and above.

7. Go to an Onsen

Onsen, written as 温泉 in kanji, is a Japanese hot spring. Soaking in it is one of the most deeply-rooted traditions and a popular way to pass time and relax in Japan. In fact, most people came to Hakone to soak in an onsen!

You can read more about Onsen and the etiquette of entering an Onsen in my Complete Onsen Guide.

Rotenburo Onsen in Hakone Yuryo
Rotenburo Onsen in Hakone Yuryo

A famous bath house in Hakone is Hakone Yuryo, located close to Hakone-Yumoto station. You can visit the shared bathhouse or book a Kashikiri (private onsen room). We booked a private rotenburo onsen (outdoor onsen) and it cost us 13,600 yen for 2 hours. Pretty expensive, but it was a really nice onsen room with good facilities. It would look REALLY good during Momiji season too since all of the trees outside are Momiji trees.

Dinner at Hakone Yuryo
Dinner at Hakone Yuryo

Admission: The shared bathhouse cost 1800 yen per adult and 900 yen per child.

💡 Tip: Enjoy a 200 yen discount for admission to the shared bathhouse at Hakone Yuryo if you have Hakone Free Pass

8. Visit Fuji Five Lakes near Hakone

If you have an extra two days on your trip, I recommend looking into Fuji Five Lakes! It is only two hours away from Hakone. You could potentially do Tokyo – Hakone – Fuji Five Lakes – Tokyo, or the other way around.

Fuji Five Lakes, known as Fujigoko (富士五湖), are the lakes that formed from the eruption of Mount Fuji. Now, the area is a very popular tourist spot. It receives just as much domestic tourism as international tourism!

Tip: Read my Fuji Five Lakes travel guide to find out what you can do in the area!

Fuji Five Lakes Arakuyama Sengen Park
One of the attractions in Fuji Five Lakes

Where to stay in Hakone

Here are the accommodations I’ve personally stayed in during my visit to Hakone:

  • Hakone Yutowa ($$$) – Hakone Yutowa is a large resort-like facility with its own onsen and a beautiful shared area. I stayed here as a family, with my husband and 2-year-old toddler. We got a family room with our own private bath that runs onsen water 24/7. They also have an option for Kashikiri, a private onsen room, if you don’t feel like using the shared onsen. The location is really good, just about a 10-minute walk from Gora station.
Family room at Hakone Yutowa
Family room at Hakone Yutowa
Our private bath at Hakone Yutowa
Our private bath at Hakone Yutowa
The common area at Hakone Yutowa
The common area at Hakone Yutowa
  • Ryokan Masuya ($$) – I stayed at this Ryokan when I first visited Hakone as a solo traveler. It’s a very simple, family-run Ryokan. The price is very reasonable, but the location was a bit out of the way. The redeeming point is that it was close to a bus stop so I thought it was still worth it. They have their own small onsen in-house, so you can go in and soak without having to pay extra.
A room at Ryokan Masuya
A room at Ryokan Masuya
  • Hakone Gora Karaku ($$$$) – A luxury ryokan with its own open-air onsen. Located conveniently close to Gora station

Where to eat in Hakone

  • Amazake Tea House – A 400-year-old tea house serving non-alcoholic amazake (sweet rice wine) near Motohakone-ko.
  • Gyoza Center – This is located right next to Hakone Yutowa near Gora station. It’s a simple restaurant serving simple food.
  • Itoh Dining by Nobu – A teppanyaki restaurant in Gora

And with that, we have reached the end of this Hakone guide. Please let me know if you find this useful, and if you have any other questions in the comment below. See you next time!

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Filed under: Best Of, City Guides, Japan, Kanto

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

59 Comments

  1. Celine says

    Hi Melissa,

    Your post have been very insightful and helpful! I am mainly planning to travel around Tokyo with 3 extra days to spare. So thinking of basing myself in Hakone for 3 days 2 night and drop by Kawaguchiko when im in Hakone.

    My trip will look something like this: Tokyo – Hakone (2 days) – Kawaguchiko (1 day) – Tokyo. Definitely travelling from Tokyo to Hakone first, but not sure how to plan the return trip.

    Do you have suggestion on:
    1. Should I travel back to Tokyo from Hakone? Does the Fuji-Hakone pass covers this?
    2. Should I travel back to Tokyo from Kawaguchiko to save time? Does the Fuji Hakone pass covers? Else how do I travel back?
    3. Does Fuji-Hakone pass covers transport to and fro Hakone and Kawaguchiko?

    Do let me know if you have any other tips, thanks so much!

    • Melissa says

      Hey Celine, The Fuji Hakone pass will cover your travel from Shinjuku to Hakone via Odawara. It will then cover Hakone to Kawaguchiko via bus. However, it only covers one way (either from Shinjuku – Hakone or Kawaguchiko – Shinjuku). so from Kawaguchiko back to Tokyo you’ll need to buy the ticket ala carte. The main draw of the pass is that it will also cover your local transports while in Hakone and Kawaguchiko. Also keep in mind the pass is only valid for 3 days, so on the 4th day you would not be covered anyway.

        • Melissa says

          I just realized i didn’t answer your question properly. I think if you are planning to come back to Tokyo on the same day you head out to Kawaguchiko, it’s better to head straight to Tokyo.

          You could come back via Hakone and the way back to Hakone station should be covered by Fuji Hakone pass. but it would be quite a round about way. The bus from Kawaguchiko to Shinjuku only takes 1hr 45 mins. If you go back through Hakone, the bus back to Gotemba is 80 mins and from there you need to go to Hakone Yumoto station, then to Odawara and back to Shinjuku. The Odawara – Shinjuku leg would not be covered by the pass.

  2. Terri says

    Hi, Thank you fir the blog which is great. We are travelling from Tokyo to Hakone and then Hakone to Kyoto. We will spend 2 nights in Hakone. The bog suggests the Pass to include round trip train travel and attractions. If we are not returning to Tokyo is the pass still the best option? Can you get one that allows onward travel to Kyoto? Thank you fir any help.

    • Melissa says

      Hi Terri! Since you’re not returning to Tokyo you can get the pass that is only round trip to Odawara since I believe you need to head to Odawara anyway to get to Kyoto. The main sell of the pass is the unlimited ride within Hakone itself, which you’ll def use unless you plan to drive. I am not sure if they are sold online but maybe you can purchase at the Odakyu office.

      And since you’re only visiting 3 places, I think you can just get the shinkansen bullet train tickets from Odawara to Kyoto a la carte.

  3. Huan Liang says

    Hello! I read that you drove to Hakone from Tokyo? my flight lands at 6.30am and i’ll be picking up a car to drive straight to Hakone for a night first before going back to Tokyo. did you do that as well?
    any problems driving around the different places and finding parking? The cruise ship is a round trip and ends back at the same port we boarded the ship? did you take the ropeway?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Huan, we drove from Tokyo, not from the airport. In Hakone we had no issues finding parking, since most people didn’t seem to drive there. The cruise ship goes both way so if you want to end up in the same port, just take it for a round trip. I took the ropeway on my first visit to Hakone and highly recommend it, but they get closed down if there is high wind (and they provide shuttle up to Owakudani instead)

  4. Leonie says

    Hi Melissa,
    I love this post – it was our bible for getting to and around Hakone! All the details was so helpful and the tips and recommendations were right on the mark. We had an amazing time – thank you!

    • Melissa says

      Hi Leonie, thank you for taking the time to write this comment. It means a lot to me 😀

  5. CHANTEL CHU says

    Hi Melissa,
    I’ll be travelling to Kawaguchi (first) from Matsumoto, staying 3 nights in Kawaguchi before doing a day trip at Hakone and onward train to Tokyo (on the same day). I am thinking of doing the Hakone round course proposed by you. Do you reckon its still worth getting the Fuji Hakone pass since I will miss the Tokyo – Hakone train leg?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Chantel, I may not be understanding your question – are you saying you will miss the Tokyo-Hakone leg because you’re going the other way? If so, there is actually a B-ticket for Fuji-Hakone pass, which may suit your itinerary: https://www.odakyu.jp/english/passes/fujihakone/ But it is only valid for 3 days, so you’d just have to activate it halfway into your visit in Kawaguchi-ko. Hope that helps?

  6. Chrissi says

    Thank you for writing this informative article. This is the best Hakone arcticle I have seen!

    • Melissa says

      Hey Chrissi, thank you for taking the time to write this comment. I’m glad it helped you!

  7. Mark Kilkenny says

    Dear Melissa-
    We will be staying at a B&B just north of the Sounzan Station, arriving about 11am. We cannot checkin or leave our bags until 3pm. Are there luggage lockers at that station, or must we leave them at the Gora Station and go back and pick them up later? Is there any other place near Sounzan that we can (safely) leave them? Thanks.

  8. BRUCE O'MARA says

    Thanks for all the hard work in putting this together- this very useful and complete source. It is my first trip to Japan and will be in Hakone overnight in October and very grateful for this info. I was especially concerned what I should do about luggage – I expect trekking around Hakone with only the smallest day pack is best. And I did not realize the whole area closed down at 4PM, so I will now do my best to get there early, and perhaps best by RomanceTrain. Thanks again.

    • Melissa says

      Hey Bruce – I love it when I get comment like yours. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Have fun in Hakone!

  9. Sharon says

    Hi Melissa! Thanks for writing, your blog has been a great help. You mentioned that there are many different ways to do the Hakone loop. I’ll be staying for 4 days near Hakone-Yumoto station. If I were to follow your loop and break it into 4 days, wouldn’t I still have to pass by the attractions that I’ve already seen on the previous day, to get to the new destination, as its a loop after all? Or do you have any suggestions on how I can cover the loop in 4 days without repeating past attractions? Also, do you think 4 days is too many days to stay in Hakone?

    I’ll also be staying at Fuji Five for 3 days. Will it be better to stay in Fuji Five for 4 days instead?

    Thank you!

    • Melissa says

      Hi Sharon! yes, but usually there are more straightforward ways to resume your loop. For example, if you left off at Gora Park, you can just go straight to Gora Park again from your hotel the next day without redoing the entire loop. Usually, there would be a bus that lets you do that.

      I think 4 days might be a bit long, but really depends on the type of traveler you are. If you like to explore in details and take thigns slow then 4 days are okay. Most people are able to complete the Hakone loop in 2 days. For Fuji Five Lakes, 3 days is enough as well. You can check out my post on Fuji Five Lakes here: https://girleatworld.net/fuji-five-lakes-guide-itinerary/

      • Sharon says

        Hi Melissa,

        Thank you very much for your reply and suggestions. It’s really helpful for my trip planning. I really appreciate it. You are a blessing!

  10. Hi Melissa, Thank you for sharing your detailed guide. It is very helpful for us. I am going to be in Hakone for 4d3n and i am not sure if we will have time to hop over to Kawaguchiko. I hope you can help me with this question:
    1. Can i buy HAkone Free Pass and later top up for Fuji-Hakone pass if i decided to go Kawaguchiko?
    2. Should i buy the pass in advance before arriving in Japan?
    3. I am worry of flight delay, is it ok for us to buy the Romancecar train ticket on arrival at the station when we want to leave? or if i prebuy early, can i change time flexibly if flight delay?
    4. Do i need to top up extra for normal Romancecar train or is it only the limited express one need topping up?
    5. Since we are going to be there 4 days but the Hakone pass is only 3 days, does that mean my last day back to Tokyo will not be covered in the pass for the ride back to SHinjuku?
    6. Should i prebuy my return romancecar ticket back to Shinjuku?
    I am sorry for so many questions, i couldn’t find answer anywhere. Therefore i hope you can guide. Many thanks in advance.

    • Melissa says

      Hey EY, I’ll try to answer to my best knowledge
      1. As far as I know, this is not possible
      2. For Hakone Free Pass, you do not need to buy it outside of Japan (unlike JR pass which you need to buy when outside of Japan).
      3. It depends on whether you’re going during a popular time in Hakone. Seats at the romancecar is limited, so it’s possible you might not get a seat. You can always change reservation time, but again this is subject to seat availability.
      5. I can’t find answer on this as well, you might want to check directly with the Odakyu staff at Shinjuku station. I do know there is a version of Hakone Free Pass which doesnt include the round trip, only the unlimited rides in Hakone. You might be interested in that instead, but it can only be purchased in person.
      6. Yup, always pre-buy if you can so that you can get the timing you want.

      • Thank you very much!! Appreciate your reply. Your post has been very helpful!

  11. Annette Bonwetsch says

    Hi Melissa, What a wonderful, helpful, descriptive blog you’ve written! You just saved the day for us! We’ve been trying to figure out how we are to navigate the Hakone visit on which we are embarking today, and you’ve finally shed some light on it for us. Our ryokan host has offered to pick us up at the Moto-Hakone Port between 14:30-17:00. We are traveling carryon suitcases and small backpacks, by train. We will be arriving in Odawara around 11:30 am and have to leave the next day in time to arrive in Kyoto by nightfall. We want to do it ALL AND enjoy our incredible ryokan with Ibsen. How best to fit it all in?? I realize now from your blog that one can navigate the loop backwards, so am thinking to start by dropping things at Moto-Hakone, and go from there? Or what would you suggest please? Japan is so incredible and the days are just too short…

    • Melissa says

      Hey Annette, yes you can start the loop at any point so starting it from Moto-Hakone is very doable. You should ask your host if there’s a luggage drop off at Moto-Hakone. If that’s the case, you can aim to arrive as soon as possible in Hakone, do the loop with your things up to Moto Hakone, then store your luggage there and come back for it at 5pm when your host picks you up.

      • Annette Bonwetsch says

        Update: at Yumoto Station, in addition to lockers they also offer a service where they will deliver your luggage to any hotel/accommodation in the Hakone area for a charge.We unfortunately didn’t see that until the next morning, but would surely be helpful for many travelers to know!

        • Melissa says

          Hey Annette! Thanks for this information! I’ll read up on this and will add this to my post!

  12. erin n says

    Hi Melissa

    I will be driving there in a few hours. Will visit the Shrine/gates first as it may get busy during the later hours. I want to visit the museum as well but also want to ride the cruise and cable car foe the views. What order do you recommend? I plan on staying one day as I want to head to Tokyo @ night.

    PS- your blog has been the MOST helpful!!!! Thank you so so much!

    • Melissa says

      Thanks for your comment, Erin! Yes visiting the shrine is better to do before the crowd gets there, especially if you will be there on a weekend. I would also check on the weather, because one of the time I was in Hakone the ropeway was closed due to high wind.

  13. Snigdha says

    Hi Melissa,
    I am visiting hakone tomorrow and I was really nervous around the planning since it seems a lot to do. But you have really simplified it for me. Thanks a lot!

  14. Christine says

    Hi Melissa,

    If i am going to do a 5N4N (Hakone + Mt Fuji) should i purchase the Fuji Hakone pass?
    I can only purchase the pass upon arrival at Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center, Shinjuku West not before the trip?
    From there i can then top up for the romancecar ?
    Day 1 – Tokyo to Hakone
    Day 2 – Hakone + Premium Outlet Mall
    Day 3 – Mt Fuji (5 lakes)
    Day 4 – FujiQ Highland
    Day 5 – Back to Tokyo

  15. Katrina says

    Hi Melissa, I’ll be getting the 3 days Mt Fuji Hakone pass, setting off from Shinjuku, covering Hakone for the 1st day before checking in at a hotel near Kawaguchiko station in the evening as I will then cover Mt Fuji lakes area before getting back to Odawara station for my Shinkansen to Kyoto. As such, my family with 4 x 28” luggages would like to deposit them at the temporary luggage storage area at Odawara Hakone Yumoto station. Wonder if u have more info on this to share, like cost per day and can we store for 3 days. Also, since u showed the photos of the lockers, the cost is for one day? If I only retrieve my luggage on day 3, can I set it this way? I’m really worried about the availability of the large lockers.

    • Melissa says

      Hey Katrina, there is a luggage storage service at Hakone Yumoto station https://www.hakonenavi.jp/international/en/station/yumoto
      This might be better option that the coin lockers as I think those are not meant for extended storage and get cleared out regularly.

      Another option is to pack for Hakone and Fuji and then send the rest of your luggage straight to your accomodation in Kyoto via takyubin. Ask your hotel to help. See here for more info:
      https://trulytokyo.com/luggage-shipping-the-smart-way-to-travel-in-japan/

      • Fiona says

        Hi Melissa,
        I am travelling to Japan with my family (10 year old, 6 year old and my husband) in Dec (11Dec onwards). We will arrive at Nagoya and making our way to Tokyo. We are planning to drive from Nagoya to either Hakone or Lake Kawaguchi.Which would you recommend?
        We plan to stay 1 night and then continue our journey to Yokohama. We could return the car at Yokohama or continue to drive to Tokyo Disney area.
        Appreciate if you share your thoughts especially which route maybe better and which location would better with kids.
        Thanks

  16. San says

    Hi Melissa,

    i plan to travel to Tokyo for the summer with my toddler. How easy is it to drive around in Hakone? Are there free parking at the Shrine/ Tori Gate? How about at the port for the pirate ship? Since I was going to rent a car, I was not planning to get the Hakone Free pass. I was going to find a combo package for the pirate ship and ropeway. I will pick up a car rental at the Odawara station and drive around the attractions in Hakone and then leave to Fuji Lake the next day. I will come back to Hakone on Day 3 to return the car rental since one way rental is expensive.

    Do you know what is the earliest romance train from Shibuya to Odawara station? What time will we get to the station, so I can book the right time for car pick up. Is the drive around the two cities easy?

  17. Hello Melissa! Thank you for writing and sharing this. How easy would it be to take taxis around if I did not want to wait for the bus? For example, could I take a taxi from Togendai or Gora to the Hakone shrine?
    Also, how much time did you spend for Hakone shrine? Thank you!!

    • Melissa says

      Hey Mara, Hakone is a tourist destination, so taxis are easily available especially if you stick to the main tourist destination. The shrine isn’t very big, I think I spent about an hour there including checking out the torii by the water. The first time I went to Hakone, the torii wasn’t very crowded but my latest visit there was a long queue, which I think could take 30 minutes.

  18. Amran says

    Hi Melissa
    My family of 4 are going to Japan this May. I’m considering driving around in Hakone. After reading your blog, I’m inclined to just get the Hakone Free Pass. What’s your advice?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Amran. Do you mean you’re thinking of driving to Hakone from Tokyo in a car and then use the car to drive around Hakone? In that case, you will need to factor in the cost of rental car, petrol, toll as well as parking fees. I think Hakone Free Pass might be cheaper depending on the car rental costs.

      I’ve done both ways, I did Hakone Free Pass on my first visit and then drove there on my second visit. I think each way has its pros and cons. the Hakone Loop was so easy to follow and actually pretty fun since you get to switch transport method. I found the ropeway and the funicular quite charming ways to get around. However driving also gave us more freedom in exploring Hakone since you’re not tied to the loop, and probably better if the weather is bad.

      However if its your first time in Hakone i think doing the Hakone Free Pass is the best way. It’s the tried and true way of exploring Hakone.

  19. Janice says

    Hi! Do you have tips on how we should plan our trip now that parts of the loop is closed? I saw online that the ropeway is under construction but I can’t find more information on it. Also, is it worth visiting Hakone if it’s going to be cloudy and rainy (Feb 20/21 doesn’t look too great).
    Thank you so much for your help!!

    • Melissa says

      Hey Janice, there will still be buses to substitute the route, so if you’re intent on doing the loop you’ll still be able to do it, just not via the ropeway. If it’s cloudy, I actually think it was still worth it, but if rainy it might not be ideal since most of the activities are outside. That said, it’s hard to predict whether it will rain or not…

  20. Terry says

    Hi Melissa! Thanks for writing this blog and I’m wondering if it’s worth visiting Hakone in late August. I only have 6 days in Tokyo and I’m trying to figure out if I should head straight to Hakone after I land in HND or stay a few days in Tokyo first.

    • Melissa says

      I would stay a few days in Tokyo first and get used to the country before heading out to Hakone

  21. Bernice says

    Hello!! Which area will you recommend for me to stay at in Hakone so that its more accessible for travelling around?

  22. Melissa says

    Hi Melissa! Would like to know if the places you recommended for food in Hakone are suitable to bring a 2-year old toddler? Would you have recommendations for Izu and Tokyo too?

    • Melissa says

      Hi fellow Melissa! Out of the three places i listed, I think only Gyoza Center is good for toddler (i went there with my then 2yr old too). However, there are other small Japanese restaurants throughout Hakone that your toddler would enjoy. Tbh mine prefers to eat the shake (salmon) onigiri from the convenience store most of the time.

  23. Rendy Ferdian says

    Hi Melissa. Thanks for sharing! I’m planning to see Mt. Fuji but still have no idea where to stay. Do you think stay in Hokane is a great choice to see Mt. Fuji? Or should I stay somewhere else like Fujiyoshida or Fujinomiya?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Rendy, if you’re going during winter months it would be easy to see Mt Fuji. You can see Mt Fuji from Hakone but it will be from afar (see my photo). If you really want to see mount Fuji from closer, you’ll need to go to the mountain area like Lake Kawaguchi.

      • Rendy Ferdian says

        Alright, thanks for your advise. Since i will go with my wife and my 3 year old kid, i think i’ll just stay in Fuji city. Because it’s on my route from Osaka to Tokyo. Going to lake kawaguchi will take more effort with a kid 😃

  24. Pankaj verma says

    Ah thank you so much for sharing. I am planning to visit there in next month. Will try to cover every things mentioned in this article.

  25. Hi Melissa! Amazing blog! It’s super helpful! If I may ask… when did you go to Hakone?

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