Hot Springs. Lake Ashi. Open Air Museum. Ropeway. Botanical gardens. Autumn colors. Sakura. Azaleas. These are but a few of Hakone’s treasures. And the great thing is, tourists have the option to roam around Hakone with an all-powerful pass – the Hakone Free Pass. Now, where to buy this mighty pass?
(1) Ticket machines
Odakyu has made it so much easier for us by making all Odakyu tour passes available at their ticket machines at any Odakyu Line station.
True, the façade of these machines can be intimidating at first look because it may seem it’s just mainly in Japanese; take a close look though and look for the English button. Odakyu has even provided a detailed how-to in English on buying the tickets . On the same page in the Odakyu website, you can also see instructions on how to purchase the Romance Car tickets. The Romance Car is Odakyu’s Limited Express Train which brings you to your travel destination in a shorter time whilst providing a ride where one can enjoy the beautiful Japanese countryside scenery, whatever the season may be.
On the ticket machine, one can purchase (and reserve seats!) for a maximum of four tickets at one time. Convenient, right?
(2) Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center
The Odakyu Official Global site gives us very comprehensive information about sightseeing in Hakone as well as their service centers, the Hakone Free Pass (among other passes) and the discounts/free rides accompanying the pass. Referring to the site, we just kept in mind that there’s a sightseeing service center right at the ticket gates exit of Odakyu Shinjuku Station; so we looked for one as we exited the ticket gates. We were not aware however that there are two Sightseeing Service Centers in Shinjuku – one at the West Exit of Odakyu Line Shinjuku station (the one featured on the official website) and another at the South Exit of the same station. We walked right into the South Exit Service Center fully thinking it was the very same one featured on the website. As is usual in travelling, boo-boos often is the lucky charm. We walked into the less busy service station.
The less busy English South Exit Service Center.
The busier Shinjuku West Exit Sightseeing Service Center.
The tourists queue at the West Sightseeing Service is quite longer compared to the queue at the South Service Center, which is probably because it was the West Sightseeing Service Center that was featured on the Odakyu website. Nevertheless, both West and South exit service centers have friendly staff with a good command of the English language so we didn’t have any difficulty communicating with them. We made our online reservations with the Romance Car the night before and so we picked up our reservation tickets and purchased our Hakone Pass (we purchased the two-day pass) from the Service Desk. If you haven’t done the online reservations beforehand, you can also make your Romance Car reservations at the Sightseeing Service Desk and even inquire with them about accommodations in Hakone. Please note that only the base fare from Shinjuku to Odawara is covered by the Hakone Free Pass. If you want a faster (and more scenic) commute, you can take the Romance Car at an additional 890 yen.
In less than ten minutes at the service desk, we were able to purchase our tickets and we were ready for our Hakone adventure!
If you would like to consult the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center and have already left Shinjuku onboard the train to Odawara, there’s also another Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center in Odawara.