Now is the perfect time to take a trip to Hakone. Hakone is known for it’s relaxing onsen, Japanese hot spring baths, and active volcano. Located at the foot of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a perfect place to get great views of the majestic mountain. Less than 2 hours from Tokyo by train Hakone is much recommended for a weekend or even a day trip. The fall season is one of the best time to plan a trip to Hakone since the leaves start to change color and paint the landscape into a spectacular array of reds, yellows, and oranges.
Although there are many things to do in Hakone, I’d mention my top 3 attractions in Hakone for this post. One of the main attractions of Hakone are the hot spring baths. I suggest staying at a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese style inn. Hakone has many Ryokans where visitors have access to the hot springs baths during their stay. It is important to note that Japanese hot springs require visitors to take off all clothes before entering the bath area and some have specific rules about tattoos. The hot springs are gender specific and are very healthy for your skin. Going to a Japanese onsen is a truly relaxing experience worth remembering.
My favorite area to explore is Owakudani, which is accessible by ropeway and is known for it’s sulfurous vapors that seep from the mountain-side. When you exit the ropeway at Owakudani station, beautiful views of Mount Fuji will welcome you (if you are lucky and its a clear day). Take a short walk up the mountain where a mesmerising scene with rocky rivers and pools of steaming sulfur awaits you. Get a closer view of eggs being hardboiled in the sulfur pools. Don’t be surprised to watch them turn black immediately out of the pools. Purchase these eggs and eat them to add 7 extra years to your life (as one folk story recommends). Don’t miss the gift shop that has innumerable black egg-like souvenirs along with yummy food choices.
Another great place to visit is Lake Ashi. If you take the Hakone Ropeway, two more stops to Togendai-ko Station from Owakudani Station, you will be at the north point of Lake Ashi. You can take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise, which looks more like a pirate ship. This will take you to the south of Lake Ashi where you can witness spectacular views of the autumn leaves and great views of Mount Fuji. There are many spots to check out around Lake Ashi. You can take a look at the Hakone Checkpoint, which was a highway during the Edo Period that linked Tokyo with Kyoto. Another great place to visit is the Hakone Shrine with a beautiful lakefront tori gate.
Getting to Hakone from Tokyo is easy. From Shinjuku Station, take the Odakyu Romance car to Hakone-Yumoto station. For Owakudani, board the Hakone Tozan train from Hakone-Yumoto Station to Gora Station and then transfer to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car. Take the cable car to Sounzan Station and transfer to the Hakone Ropeway. Get off at Owakudani Station. If you’d like to visit the attractions at Lake Ashi, stay on the ropeway and get off at Togendai-Ko Station. Transfer to the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise once you reach the station. The Cruise boat will take you to Hakone-Machi-ko Station, which is where you can see the Hakone Checkpoint, or to Motohakone-ko, that is closest to the Hakone Shrine.
The Freepass gives you access to all the above mentioned transportation along with the Hakone Tozan Bus, Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus and Numazu Tozan Tokai Bus. From Shinjuku Station, adult Freepass fare ranges from ¥5,140 for 2 days and ¥5,640 for 3 days. For more information or to purchase tickets, you can go here.
Also, check out my video, which shows you how to get to Hakone and gives you a tour of Iwakudani.
For more information: Hakone Freepass