Whether you’re going on a one day Hakone trip or staying for a week, the mountainous hot spring town has a lot to offer. Only 1.5 hours away from Tokyo, Hakone makes for a therapeutic getaway. A one day Hakone trip is a great way to experience Japanese culture outside of the city and treat your eyes to some amazing views.
In this article, we will share tips on how to plan your one day Hakone trip. It will cover transportation from Tokyo with money-saving tips, places to go, what to do and eat in Hakone.
Getting Around With A Hakone Free Pass
The Hakone Free Pass is the only transport pass you’ll need to cover all the main attractions in Hakone. It comes in a 2-day (¥5,700) or 3-day (¥6,100) option which starts from Shinjuku Station.
This must-have transport pass will cover your round trip transportation fee at a discounted rate from Shinjuku to Hakone. On top of that, enjoy unlimited use of buses, trains, boats, cable cars, and ropeway within the Hakone area.
You can get the 2-day Hakone Free Pass via Klook and collect it at the Odakyu Sightseeing Centre in Shinjuku Station. We suggest collecting it the day before as the Odakyu counter only opens at 8am.
Getting to Hakone
There are two ways to get to Hakone with the Free Pass.
The budget-friendly route: Shinjuku → Hakone via Odakyu Line
Included in the Hakone Free Pass is the ride from Shinjuku to Odawara Station via the Odakyu Line. Next, transfer to the Hakone Yuzan train and alight at Hakone-Yumoto Station.
This journey is more friendly on the wallet, but takes a longer time (~2 hours). The journey to Odawara alone already takes about 85 minutes. This route also goes by the regular commuter express train with no allocated seats and more stops along the way. Check train timings here.
The direct route: Shinkuju → Hakone with Odakyu Romance Car
For a top up of ¥1,100, you can travel to Hakone on the Odakyu Romancecar. It is a reserved-seating train with very few stops and goes directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station. You’ll save about half an hour in travel time, and the train has large panoramic windows to showcase some of Japan’s best views.
To get the Odakyu Romancecar ticket, simply let the counter know when you are collecting your Hakone Free Pass. Check the Romancecar timings here.
Getting around in Hakone
All the main attractions can be covered in a circle from Hakone-Yumoto Station so there’s two ways around it – clockwise or anti-clockwise. Most visitors from Tokyo will take the anti-clockwise route, starting from the Hakone Tozan train to Owakudani, and end with a bus ride back to Hakone-Yumoto Station. You’ll also get a better view of Mt. Fuji on this route, as the mountain will be at the “back” if you go by the clockwise direction.
However, if you’d rather beat the crowd, then take the clockwise direction instead. For this article, we’ll be covering the anti-clockwise direction.
Hakone-Yumoto Station → Gora Station
From Hakone-Yumoto Station, take the Hakone Tozan Train to Gora Station. The Hakone Tozan Train is Japan’s oldest mountain train and will travel through scenic mountain areas of Hakone.
It will take around 35 minutes to get to Gora Station. Once you’ve arrived, you can decide if you want to visit the Hakone Museum of Art and Gora Park, or go directly to catch the cable car to Sounzan.
Hakone Art Museum
Founded in 1952, Hakone Museum of Art displays mainly Japanese ceramics from prehistoric times to the Edo Period. It also features a beautiful moss garden with stone paths winding through maple trees. The colour of the garden changes with the seasons – vibrant greens in spring and autumn hues in November. There is also a teahouse where you can sip on green tea for a small fee.
Besides the moss garden, the museum is also home to the Sekirakuen Garden. It is only open on weekends, public holidays and during the month of November. The garden spreads over the slopes of Gora and offers views over the valley and mountains. Quite a sight to behold.
Opening hours: 9.30am to 4.30pm (4pm from December to March, last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Closed: Thursdays (except in November, or if Thursday is a national holiday), December 25 to 31, January 4 to 8
Admission: ¥900 (¥700 with the Hakone Free Pass)
Gora Park is a French-styled landscape park featuring a large fountain and a rose garden. There is also a crafthouse where visitors can take part in activities such as glass blowing, glass etching, pottery and dried flower arrangement. Activities take from 30 minutes to an hour to complete and range in cost from ¥1000 to ¥5000.
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm)
Admission: ¥550 (free with the Hakone Free Pass)
Gora Station → Sounzan Station → Owakudani
Transfer to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car located adjacent to Gora Station and get off at Sounzan Station, then change to the Hakone Ropeway to get to Owakudani.
The Hakone Ropeway is a gondola life that provides a 360° view of the surrounding scenery. During clear days, you’ll be able to see Mt Fuji in all its glory. Try to sit by the door for a better view!
As elevation gradually increases, the temperature will begin to drop. Make sure to dress appropriately!
Owakudani is one of the must-visit attractions on your one day Hakone trip. It was created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone some 3000 years ago. Even to this day, smoke continues to rise from the nearby volcano and you can smell sulfur in the air. Take some time to wander and explore the grounds.
A must-eat here is the Kuro Tamago, or black eggs. They were cooked in the natural hot springs water and the black shell is caused by a natural reaction to the sulfur. The eggs are perfectly safe to consume! In fact, it is said that eating one will prolong your life by seven years.
You can buy them at the Kurotamago House which will set you back ¥500 for five eggs.
Owakudani → Lake Ashinoko
For the more adventurous, there is a hiking trail that goes from the ropeway station to the peak of Mount Kamiyama and continues on to Mount Komagatake. From there, you can catch the Komagatake Ropeway down to Lake Ashinoko. Do take note that the hike will take over 2 hours and can be rocky or slippery as well as quite windy! Proper hiking gear recommended.
Alternatively, return to the Owakudani ropeway station and make your way to the last stop, Togendai-ko. Here, you’ll find yourself on the shores of Lake Ashi.
Like Owakudani, Lake Ashi was formed in the caldera of Mount Hakone after the volcano’s last eruption. Today, the lake with Mount Fuji in the background is a symbol of Hakone.
Board the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise which is included in your Hakone Free Pass. During the cruise ride, you will see the floating torii gate of the Hakone Shrine with Mt Fuji in the background if the skies are clear.
The sightseeing cruise will take around 30 minutes. The cruise leaves about one to two times an hour – make sure to check the boat schedule when you’re planning your itinerary.
Lake Ashinoko → Motohakone-ko
Get off the cruise at Motohakone-ko. By now, it’s around lunchtime and you’re probably starving. Stop for a break and get some lunch on the shore of Lake Ashi!
Hakone Kohanso Eatery Sakura Honjin
A 5-minute walk away from Motohakone-ko is Hakone Kohanso Eatery Sakura Honjin. It is popular for wakasagi, a small fish caught in Lake Ashi. The view of the lake from the second floor is outstanding on sunny days.
The Wakasagi Fish Gozenage (¥2,200 per person) is a set styled so that you fry the wakasagi yourself. The deep-fried wakasagi is aromatic, crispy on the outside and tender on the side. Rice, salad, kumosuke soup, and grape juice also comes with the set.
Opening hours: 11am – 3pm
After lunch, it’s time to make your way to another must-visit spot in Hakone. The Hakone Shrine is a popular spot to pray for all things related to relationships, marriage and family life.
Even more iconic than the shrine itself is the grand Torii gate. Sitting on the edge of Lake Ashinoko, you’ll need to climb down a flight of stairs to get to this spot. You’ve probably seen several Instagram photos featuring this beautiful spot!
Motohakone-ko → Amazake-chaya
From Hakone Shrine, it’s a 10-minute walk to the Motohakone-ko bus stop. It’s time to hop on the Hakone Tozan Bus. Make sure to take Route K to your next destination. You can also skip it completely and take the bus back to Hakone-Yumoto Station, where you began your one day trip.
Amazake-chaya Tea House
Amazake is a non-alcoholic sweet rice wine. For an authentic amazake experience, alight at Amazake-chaya and make your way to the teahouse. This teahouse was founded over 400 years ago and they have been serving travellers since the Edo period!
Their menu has remained unchanged. Apart from amazake, there are also dishes such as handmade mochi, and miso oden with warm konjac that will heal your travel fatigue. There is also a tatami mat room where you can take your shoes off and stretch your legs – a perfect way to wind down after a day at Hakone.
Opening hours: 7am to 5.30pm
Amazake-chaya → Hakone-Yumoto Station
Catch the Hakone Tozan Bus to Hakone-Yumoto bus stop. From here, you can make your way to the train station and wait for your Romancecar or regular train back to Shinjuku. If you still have some time on your hands, go for a walk in the small town and soak up the views and cozy atmosphere!
And here we are at the end of our one day Hakone trip. We hope you enjoyed yourselves!