Hakone Itinerary: How to Spend 2 Days in Hakone

by Itinerary, Japan, Travel

Long ago when Japan was ruled by a shogun and samurai still roamed the countryside, the cities of Japan were connected by five highways. The most famous one, the Tokaido Road (East Coast Road), connected the two most important cities in Japan: Kyoto and Edo (present-day Tokyo).

Along the Tokaido Road were 26 checkpoints where guards checked travelers’ documents and where weary travelers could rest at inns and teahouses. The most important checkpoint was the one travelers stopped at right before entering Edo and right after exiting the capital. This was in the mountainous village of Hakone.

Here guards would check to make sure women weren’t being smuggled out of the capital, for the shogun required all of his lords’ family members to reside in Edo permanently in order to ensure their loyalty. Guards would also check the travelers entering Edo to see that they weren’t smuggling guns into the capital to overthrow the shogun.

Today visitors to Japan’s capital are no longer required to stop in Hakone before entering and exiting Tokyo.

However, the inns, restaurants, and other businesses for travelers have not disappeared.

Locals and foreign visitors flock to Hakone for other more pleasant reasons: to soak in its twenty different kinds of hot springs, spend the night in its traditional inns, hike in its mountains, appreciate its views of Mount Fuji, and wander around its world-class museums.

What’s more, you can still experience what it was like to travel along the Old Tokaido Road. The last remaining stones of the Old Tokaido Road can still be found in Hakone.

Hakone is a great destination to add to your Japan itinerary. This Hakone itinerary is days 19 and 20 of my Japan 3-week Itinerary.

Here is a suggested Hakone itinerary for 2 days.

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About Hakone

Hakone is not exactly an individual town or city. Instead, it is an area comprised of several towns nestled between the peaks and valleys of Hakone Pass.

Hakone is also situated on top of a volcano, making it one of the top five places in Japan for visiting hot springs.

The main town that most visitors arrive at is Hakone-Yumoto.

Gora is another popular place, due to its many hot springs and central location.

However, you don’t necessarily have to stay in these two towns. There are ryokans with onsens (traditional Japanese-style inns with hot springs) as well as hostels and other kinds of accommodations dotted all over the area. Getting to them is easy as there’s an extensive and efficiently run public transportation system connecting the towns, inns, and attractions.

Hakone is located one to two hours by bus or train from Tokyo, so it makes for an easy day trip or a weekend trip.

What is the Hakone Freepass?

The Hakone Freepass is a transportation pass that encompasses the cost of your transportation both to/from Hakone and around Hakone.  It can cover your ride from Tokyo to Hakone or from Odawara to Hakone. The pass also includes trains, buses, boat rides, and ropeways around Hakone.

It’s similar to a Japan Rail Pass. When you get on and off a train or bus in Hakone, you just flash your Freepass.

You can also use it to get discounts at some restaurants and tourist sights. Often you’ll get a discount of ¥100 or ¥200 (US$.70 – $1.40 /£.55  – £1.10 / €.64-€1.27).

Where to Buy the Hakone Freepass

There are 3 ways to buy a Hakone Freepass:

  • Go to the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku or Odawara train stations. At Shinjuku Station, just follow the signs to the Odakyu Department Store. The service center is nearby.
  • From an online travel agency. You’ll just need to exchange the voucher for the real ticket at Shinjuku station. The price is sometimes cheaper from the online agency than if you bought it in Japan.
  • Through an App on your phone called EMot Online Tickets. These are digital Passes. 

When I purchased my passes at Shinjuku and Odawara stations, the staff spoke perfect English and they were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Odakyu is the company that owns the railway lines from Tokyo to Hakone, Mount Fuji, and Kamakura areas. They sell travel passes for Hakone, Mount Fuji-Hakone area, Enoshima-Kamakura, and a few others. They also own a department store in Shinjuku Station called Odakyu.

A JR Pass only covers train travel from Tokyo to Odawara. You can not use it from Odawara to Hakone or within Hakone.

How Much Does the Hakone Freepass Cost?

The price of the Freepass depends on where you depart from and how many days you use it.

If you depart on an Odakyu train from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, the pass covers the train ride from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Hakone, so it’ll cost more.  If you have a JR Pass, buy a pass that starts coverage in Odawara because your JR Pass includes travel from Tokyo to Odawara.

Here are the prices as of December 26, 2023:

2-Day Hakone Pass

  • Starting from Shinjuku Station – For adults: ¥6,100 (US$43/£34 / €39); for children: ¥1,100 (US$8/£7/€8)
  • Starting from Odawara Station – For adults: ¥5,000 (US$43/£28 / €32); for children, ¥1,000 (US$7/£5.50/€6.36)

3-Day Hakone Pass

  • Starting from Shinjuku Station – For adults, ¥6,500 (US$46/£42/€47); for children, ¥1,350 (US$10/£9/€10)
  • Starting from Odawara Station – For adults, ¥5,400 (US$38/£30/€34.37); for children, ¥1,250 (US$9/£7/€8)

If you have a JR Pass, you should buy the Hakone Pass starting from Odawara Station. You will first use your JR Pass for the train from Shinjuku or Kyoto or wherever you’re coming from to Odawara. Then start using your Hakone Pass for the train from Odawara to Hakone. You can buy your pass at Shinjuku Station or in Odawara. You will need to validate your pass at the Odakyu Office at Odawara Station.

Other Types of Hakone Passes

Other types of Hakone Freepasses cover both Hakone and the Mount Fuji or Kamakura areas.

1. Fuji Hakone Pass

The Fuji Hakone Pass allows you to travel between Tokyo and Mt. Fuji/Hakone areas, between Mt. Fuji and Hakone, and around the Mt. Fuji area and the Hakone area.

The Fuji/Hakone Pass is good for three days. Unfortunately, the price is the same regardless of where you start your train journey.

Here are the prices as of December 26, 2023:

  • Shinjuku: For adults, it’s ¥9,340 (US$66/£60/€67; for children, it’s ¥2,850 (US$20/£19/€21).
  • Otsuki/Kawaguchiko: For adults, it’s ¥9,340 (US$66/£60/€67); for children, it’s ¥2,850 (US$20/£19/€21).

You can buy the pass either at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station, Otsuki Station or Kawaguchiko Station.

My Experience Using the Fuji Hakone Pass

For my second trip to Japan, I bought the Fuji Hakone Pass. I took a bus from Shinjuku Station to the Mount Fuji area (not covered under the pass). The next day my pass began. Let’s call that day 1.  On day 1, I used it to travel on the buses around the Mount Fuji area. Then on day 2, I used the pass to travel between the Mt. Fuji and Hakone area by bus. On day 3, I used the pass to travel around the Hakone area. The next day I traveled to Kamakura (not covered under the pass).

2. Hakone Kamakura Pass

The Hakone Kamakura Pass covers transport in Hakone and on the Enodon Train Line in Kamakura and Enoshima

It’s good for 3 days.

The price for the Pass of December 26, 2023:

  • For adults, it’s ¥7,520 (US$53 | £49 | €55)
  • For children, it’s ¥1,480 (US$11 | £10 | €11)

You can buy the Pass from the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo or you can buy the Hakone Kamakura Pass online. 

How to get to Hakone

Figuring out how to get to Hakone from Tokyo can be confusing. That’s because, from Tokyo, there are 3 different ways to get to Hakone by train, and your Japan Rail (JR) Pass doesn’t cover the whole route.

But don’t worry! If you follow this Hakone itinerary, you should have no problem.

In addition, the staff at the Hakone tourism office are skilled at dealing with both foreign and local tourists, and they make the process as easy as pie once you’re aware of all your travel options.

Here’s an overview of the 3 ways to get to Hakone by train. Click on the link for each method for more detailed info!

    3 Ways to Get to Hakone Departure Cost w/o JR Pass or Hakone Pass Duration
    Option #1: JR Train + Hakone-Tozan Train

    Departs from Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station

    Change trains in Odawara

    From Tokyo Station: ¥2900 – ¥4170

    From Shinjuku Station: ¥1880

    From Tokyo Station: 45 – 90 minutes

    From Shinjuku Station: 1.5 hours

    Option #2: Romance Car

    Departs from Shinjuku Station

    Direct to Hakone

    ¥2470 80 minutes
    Option #3: Odakyu Tain + Hakone-Tozan Train

    Departs from Shinjuku;

    Change trains in Odawara

    ¥1270 2 hours

    I did option #1 the first time I visited Hakone (I’ve visited twice). On my second trip, I went by bus from the Mt. Fuji area to Hakone.

    You can find train schedules and bus schedules on these 3 websites:

    Bus to Hakone

    There is a bus that leaves from Shinjuku station to Hakone, but it’s rather inconvenient because its destination is not the conveniently located Hakone-Yumoto. Instead, its final destination is Togendai on Lake Ashi. You’ll need to transfer to the T or S bus line at the Sengoku or Senkyoro-mae bus stops. It’s rather inconvenient. Check the Willer Website for bus schedules.

    Option #1: JR Train + Hakone-Tozan Train

    If you have a Japan Rail Pass, option #1 is your best choice.

    If you’re coming from Kyoto or some other city except for Tokyo, this is the only way to get to Hakone by train.

    Here is how you do it:

    1. Take a Japan Rail Train to Odawara Train Station

    This section of the journey is covered under your Japan Rail Pass.

    From Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station, take a JR Train to Odawara Train Station. It usually takes between 30 – 60 minutes.

    From Kyoto or Osaka, take a JR Train to Odawara Train Station.  It can take between 2 or 3 hours to Odawara. Just remember that JR passes don’t cover the Nozomi line.

    2. Buy or Validate the Hakone Freepass in Odawara

    At the Odawara train station, go to the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center to buy the Hakone Freepass. If you bought your Hakone Pass online, you will still need to go to the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center to validate your Pass.

    When I was there, there was a large sign outside the Center saying “Tickets for Hakone.” The people who worked at the center were super helpful and friendly.

    Make sure to get the free Hakone Bus Trip Map and Timetable. It may be old school, but it beat Google Maps hands down for convenience and accuracy.

    Alternatively, you can purchase your Hakone Pass from the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. Just tell the staff that you only want the pass to cover the portion from Odawara to Hakone.

    3. Take the Train or bus from Odawara Station to Hakone

    Next, take the Hakone Tozan train to Hakone.

    This train ride is covered under your Hakone Freepass. JR Passes don’t cover it.

    The train usually takes 15 minutes to Hakone-Yumoto Station and leaves every 15 minutes.

    Hakone has several train stations. It’s important to know what the closest station to your hotel is.  You can get off at Hakone-Yumoto Station, Gora Station, or other stations. Ask your hotel or the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center in Odawara for the best station to get off at.

    For example, the first time I visited Hakone, I got off at Hakone-Yumoto Station and took a bus to my hotel. The bus took 5 minutes.

    The second time I visited Hakone, I got off at Gora Station and walked 1 minute to my hotel.

    You can also take a bus from Odawara Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. It’s also covered in the Freepass. This is how I got from Hakone to Odawara when I was going back to Tokyo.

    During my first trip to Hakone, finding the train to Hakone was a bit tricky. Ask around and look for signs. My train was leaving from Track 11, but when I got to the train platform, it looked like two different trains were leaving from Track 11. If I hadn’t noticed a train attendant pointing out another train on an inconspicuously located track to another tourist, I might have gotten on the wrong train or missed my train.

    For all the info on the Hakone-Tozan Train including the timetable, check out the fabulous Hakone-Tozan website.

    IS A JAPAN RAIL PASS WORTH IT?  I have an article that will show you whether a Japan Rail Pass is worth it. I break down the transportation price for each of the destinations in this Japan itinerary of 3 weeks. Then I compare that to the price of a Japan Rail Pass. After that, I show where and how to purchase a Japan Rail Pass, how to activate the Pass when you get to Japan, and how to use the Pass. Check out my article on getting a Japan Rail Pass here.

    Option #2: Romance Car

    Your second option is to take the Romance Car. This train will take you nonstop from Tokyo Shinjuku Station to Hakone. It’s supposed to be fast, comfortable, and scenic.

    You can buy the Romance Car ticket from the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station. Another option is to buy the Romance Car ticket online as well.

    The train takes 80 minutes.

    It’s not covered under your Japan Rail Pass or Hakone Pass. You need to buy both a regular ticket and a limited express surcharge. The total cost from Shinjuku station as of December 26, 2023, is ¥2,470 (US$18 | £14 | €16).

    Visit the Odakyu website to find out more information.

    Option #3: Odakyu Train Line + Hakone-Tozan Train Line

    Your third option is to take all non-Japan Rail (JR) trains. This option is perfect for those who want to save money or who don’t have a JR Pass but have the Hakone Freepass.

    1. Purchase the Hakone Freepass in Tokyo

    The first thing to do is purchase the Hakone Freepass before you even leave Tokyo. This pass will cover the cost of the whole train journey from Tokyo to Hakone.

    You can purchase the pass from the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. When you’re in Shinjuku, look for signs pointing you to Odakyu Line or Odakyu Department Store.

    Alternatively, you can buy the pass online from Klook or Get Your Guide.

    I have already explained how to purchase this pass in the Hakone Freepass Section.

    2. Take the Odakyu Line from Tokyo to Odawara

    Take the Odakyu Train Line. It leaves from Shinjuku Station. The train is not covered under the Japan Rail Pass, but it’s covered under the Hakone Freepass.

    The journey takes 100 minutes.

    Without the Hakone Free Pass, the train costs around ¥900 (US$6 | £5 | €6).

    3. Take the Hakone-Yumoto line from Odawara to Hakone

    When you get to Odawara, transfer to the Hakone Tozan Train line. It’s covered under your Hakone Freepass but not the Japan Rail Pass.

    This train takes 15 minutes to Hakone-Yumoto and leaves about every 15 minutes. 

    Hakone has several train stations. It’s important to know what the closest station to your hotel is.  You can get off at Hakone-Yumoto Station, Gora Station, or other stations. Ask your hotel or the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center in Odawara for the best station to get off at.

    Without the Hakone Free Pass, it costs ¥320 (US$2.23 | £2 | €2.30).

    You can also take a bus from Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto, which is also covered under your Hakone Freepass.

    How to get to Hakone from the Mt. Fuji area

    How about adding BOTH Mt. Fuji and Hakone to your Japan itinerary?

    This is what I did on my last trip to Japan, and I found it to be extremely complicated. You need to transfer multiple times, there’s a lack of posted information, it will take you all day, and you get lots of conflicting answers from transportation employees.

    But not to worry! I’ll tell you EXACTLY how I did it!

    And the whole journey is covered under your Mt. Fuji Hakone Free Pass.

    1. Take a Bus from Kawaguchi-ko to Gotemba

    At bus stop #6 at Kawaguchi-ko Station, I got on the Fushiyoshida/Oshino/Yamanakako Sightseeing Bus going to Gotemba (Gotemba Station). The bus to Gotemba left every hour (7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00). There were also buses going to “Outlets”, which were the Gotemba Outlets, and I think it was possible to transfer to a bus to Hakone from there as well.

    I took the bus to the last stop, Gotemba Station. The bus timetable said it would take an hour, but it took an hour and a half to get to Gotemba Station.

    The ride was covered under my Fuji Hakone Pass. However, if you don’t have one, it’ll cost around ¥1510.

    2. Take the W Bus Line to Senkyoro-mae Bus Stop

    The Gotemba Bus Station is very confusing–no signs for buses to Hakone and lots of conflicting information. It took me a long time to figure out which bus to take to Hakone. 

    Finally, I found an Odakyu Ticket Office that knew which bus and when the bus would leave. It was the W Bus Line leaving from Bus Stop #3. The W Bus Stop was 30 minutes behind schedule that day. 

    The W bus was coming from Shinjuku station and was headed toward Togendai on the shore of Lake Ashi in Hakone.

    The people at the Odakyu ticket office told me to transfer at Sengoku, but the bus driver told me to transfer at Senkyoro-mae. Listen to the bus driver.

    3. Take the S bus line to Gora Station

    I got off at Senkyoro-mae Bus Stop in Hakone and waited at the same stop for the S bus to come for Gora Station in Hakone

    I was staying at a hostel just a few minutes walk from the bus stop at Gora Station.

    If you are staying in Hakone-Yumoto and not in Gora, you’ll probably need to transfer to the T bus line at Sengoku or Senkyoro-mae. Or you could still take the S Bus to Gora, where you’ll hop on the train to Hakone Yumoto.

    But ask the ticket office and bus driver for confirmation on this.

    When to Visit Hakone

    Try to visit Hakone on a weekday to avoid crowds and for cheaper prices.

    I visited Hakone twice: once on a weekday and once on a weekend. Both times were in August. There were more tourists on the weekend than on the weekdays, but the crowds weren’t unbearable. I found that prices for accommodations on the weekend were significantly more expensive than on the weekday.

    Best Season to Visit Hakone

    My friends from Japan say that accommodations are cheaper in summer than in spring, fall, and winter.

    However, winter is the best time to see Mount Fuji, and with the leaves changing color, fall is when Hakone is at its most beautiful.

    Solo Travelers

    If you’re a solo traveler and you want to stay at a ryokan, going on the weekend might be difficult. Some ryokans don’t accept solo travelers as guests on the weekend. This is because they often charge per guest and not per room. Ryokans charge this way because breakfast and dinner are included in the price. 

    How long to stay in Hakone

    I suggest staying at least 2 days and 2 nights in order to spend time relaxing at an onsen, seeing the historical sights, and visiting the Hakone Open Air Museum.

    However, you can easily do 2 days and 1 night. That’s what I did on my first trip to Hakone.

    If you have more time, you can do three days and add in some more strenuous hiking, more onsen bathing, or more museum touring.

    This Hakone itinerary is for two days.

    Where to stay in Hakone

    Hakone’s traditional style inns called ryokans are famous in Japan. Therefore, I recommend splurging on your accommodations and staying in one with a hot spring bath, called onsen in Japanese. You’ll get a multi-course Japanese-style breakfast and dinner in your room. YOLO, right? It can be an unforgettable cultural experience.

    For the splurgers, I highly recommend staying at Fukuzumiro Ryokan.

    For those on a tighter budget, there are hostels with their onsens. I highly recommend Onsen Guesthouse Hakone Tent.

    You can check out hotel prices on Agoda or Booking.com. Agoda is the BEST site for booking hotels in Asia.

    If you cannot find what you are looking for on booking.com’s site, try checking out JapaniCan, It has ryokans and hotels that are not listed on booking.com’s site.

    Where Did I Stay?

    I’ve been to Hakone twice. For my first visit, I stayed at Fukuzumiro Ryokan, a 125-year-old traditional Japanese inn situated right next to a river (Agoda | Booking.com).

    My room had a huge window next to a river. At night I fell asleep to the sound of the river as it flowed over the rocks below. It was heavenly.

    A Japanese-style multi-course dinner and breakfast were served in my room. You can read more about what’s included in a Japanese style breakfast in this great article by Travel With Kat.

    I also got a Japanese-style robe called a yukata that I wore around the ryokan.

    The ryokan has three onsen baths: male, female, and private.

    In addition, the inn was conveniently located–just two bus stops from the Hakone-Yumote train station and a 1-minute walk from the stop.

    Whatever you do, don’t arrive before check-in at 3:00 pm. It’s just impolite to arrive early at Ryokans. I arrived 15 minutes early thinking it would take me longer to get to the ryokan than it did. Oops!

    Just be aware that some of the ryokans in Hakone are old. You’re going to have to suspend your demand for brand-new shiny things in exchange for character and Japanese-style rustic charm.

    If you’re looking for a wonderful truly Japanese experience, definitely stay at Fukuzumiro.

    Alternatives to Fukuzumiro:

    If Fukuzumiro is full, here are some alternatives:

    $ – Under US$50 | $$ – US$50 – $200 | $$$ – Over US$200

    • Matsuzakaya Honten ($$$) – This highly-rated place is heavenly; try to get a room with its own private outdoor bath; Breakfast & dinner included. RATING: 9.5/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda
    • Hananoyado Fukuya ($$$) – Location, location, location! Near Lake Aishi and surrounded by a beautiful forest. Rooms have private outdoor onsens. Option to include breakfast and dinner! RATING: 9.5/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda
    • Hakone Kyuan ($$$) – Another beautiful place with stunning views; the room has its own private onsen and balcony with mountain views; Breakfast & dinner included. RATING: 9.3/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda
    • Hakone Airu ($$$) – This Balinese-themed ryokan is so enticingly beautiful that I couldn’t resist adding it to this list! Rooms have their open-air bath with mountain views. RATING: 8.7/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda

    Great Place to Stay for Budget Travelers

    The second time I visited Hakone, I stayed at a hostel called Onsen Guesthouse Hakone TENT (Booking.com | Agoda) located in Gora. I really liked this quirky hostel.

    At the time I visited, they had dorm rooms and private rooms.

    They also had two private hot springs, a decent restaurant that serves amazing pizza, and a friendly staff.

    However, the last time I checked on Booking.com and Agoda, I no longer saw dorm rooms listed and their prices were high for a budget traveler.

    Here are some highly-reviewed and cool alternatives for budget travelers:

    $ – Under US$50 | $$ – US$50 – $200 | $$$ – Over US$200

    • Onsen Guest House Tsutaya – I would stay here in a heartbeat. It’s near Kowakudani Station. You can choose from dorms or private rooms. There’s an outdoor onsen and a kitchen with complimentary coffee. You might have to book a minimum of 2 nights. RATING: 9.3/10 (1,500 Reviews) BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda
    • Asante Inn ($ – $$) – Asante Inn has both dorm rooms and private rooms. Includes a private onsen, garden, and mountain views. RATING: 9.2/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda
    • K’s House ($ – $$) – Both dorms and private rooms; has a terrace with mountain views, open-air onsen, and kitchen. RATING: 8.8/10 | BOOK HERE:  Booking.com | Agoda
    • Rohen Resort and Lounge ($) – This charming and cozy place has both dorms and affordable private rooms. There’s a restaurant and bar on site. Walking distance to Lake Aishi! RATING: 8.6/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda
    • Mount View Hakone ($$) – An affordable hotel with great outdoor onsen as well as an option for traditional Japanese-style multi-course breakfast and dinner. RATING: 8.9/10 | BOOK HERE: Booking.com | Agoda

    How to get around Hakone

    I wish my home country of the United States had the kind of public transportation system that Japan has. Hakone’s is no exception. It’s both extensive and user-friendly. It makes completing this Hakone itinerary a breeze.

    Your Hakone Freepass covers the cost of the train and bus along with the cable car, the ropeway, and the boat across Lake Ashi.

    To get around, just use the paper Hakone Bus Trip Map that you’ll get at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center. The map was super easy to use and more helpful than Google Maps.

    Taking the Bus Around Hakone

    Hakone has an excellent bus system. According to the Hakone Bus Trip Map, I counted 14 bus routes. Each route is given a letter (T, TP, H, L, G, etc.). Look for the letter at bus stops and on the front of buses.

    To take the bus from the Hakone-Yumoto Train Station, cross the street via a pedestrian flyover and turn left. You’ll find a Hakone Tozan Bus Information office.

    Look for the bus stop with the letter of your route. On the weekend I visited, there were bus employees guiding tourists to the correct bus stop.

    For more information including bus routes and their schedules, you can check out the very useful Hakone Tozan Bus website.

    Taking the Train Around Hakone

    The train line is the same one that you arrived on from Odawara: the Hakone Tozan Railway.

    It takes you all the way to Gora Station, where you can catch the cable car that takes you to the ropeway to Owakudani and then eventually the lake.

    Hakone Itinerary: Day 1

    To be able to complete this itinerary, get to Hakone by noon or 1:00 pm at the latest. This is possible if you’re coming from Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, or Tokyo.

    1. Drop off your luggage

    When you get to Hakone, drop your luggage at the luggage storage place at the Hakone-Yumoto train station. You can store them there, or you can have them delivered to your hotel for a fee.

    If you have time, you may be able to drop them off at your accommodations. One thing I learned was that Ryokans don’t like it if you show up early.

    2. Hakone Open Air Museum

    COST: ¥1600 (US$12/£11/€12); there’s for ¥100 coupon for a discount you can print off; show your Hakone Freepass for additional discounts | OPEN: 9:00-5:00 pm | WEBSITE: Hakone Open Air Museum Website

    Begin your trip to Hakone at the Hakone Open Air Museum. Make sure to get there early so that you can spend 3 hours wandering around this gorgeous and fascinating museum and soaking your feet in the foot bath and cafe.

    This is one place you shouldn’t miss even if you are not a fan of museums. It’s a fun outdoor museum (plus some indoor exhibits) surrounded by the beautiful forested mountains of Hakone. It’s the best sculpture museum I’ve been to. You’ll find works of art by both Japanese and international artists.

    How to Get to the Museum:

    You can get to the museum by train or bus.

    Train: Take the Hakone-Tozan train to Chokoku-no-mori station. It’s then a short walk to the museum.

    Bus: Get off at the Ninotaira-iriguchi stop. It’s also a short walk to the museum.

    Here are some don’t miss exhibits:

    The Picasso Exhibit – A building full of two stories of Picasso’s works of art including paintings, ceramics, and photographs. 

    Also, check out the Symphonic Sculpture. You can enter the sculpture and walk up a winding staircase to the top of a tower overlooking the whole park.

    Miss Black Power sculpture was another of my favorites.

    3. Dinner

    Next, return to your accommodations for dinner.

    If you’re staying at a traditional Japanese-style inn, a multicourse dinner will probably be included in the price of your room. This is an experience you should try at least once while in Japan even though it can be a bit pricey.

    The cut-off for checking in to your ryokan can be quite early. My ryokan was 6:00 pm. Dinner was also at a fixed time, so I needed to be on time. I recommend getting to your hotel before 5:00 pm and if you have time before dinner, taking a pre-dinner dip in an onsen.

    4. Onsen

    onsen in Hakone

    Before or after dinner or both, soak in a Japanese onsen (hot springs). It is one of the most pleasurable things one can do in Hakone—it’s one of the top 5 hot springs places in Japan.

    Most ryokans should have one. The ryokan and hostel I stayed at during my 2 visits to Hakone had their own onsen baths. The Japanese are very serious about making sure you follow all the steps and don’t deviate from the protocol when bathing. My ryokan had instructions in English along with photos explaining what you can and can’t do.

    The Japanese like to soak in an onsen three times during their stay in a ryokan: before dinner, after dinner, and in the morning.

    If your hotel, hostel, or Airbnb doesn’t have an onsen, here are some public ones you can check out:

    • Tenzan (COST: ¥1,450 – you used to be able to get a discount with your Hakone Freepass | OPEN: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm | Tattoos ok) Wonderful public onsen with several outdoor baths. There are also 2 good restaurants – the unagi is really good and they serve turtle hot pot; I visited this onsen on my second visit to Hakone and I highly recommend it! Take the K Bus Line from Hakone-Yumoto Station and get off at Okuyumoto Iriguchi Bus Stop.
    • Ikkyu (COST: ¥1,200 | OPEN: 11:00 – 20:00; closed on Thursdays | Tattoos ok – This onsen is owned by the same people that run Tenzan Onsen.
    • Hakone Yuryo (COST: ¥1,600 (weekdays) ¥1,900 (weekends) | OPEN: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (closes at 9:00 pm on weekends) | No tattoos) – It bills itself as a traditional countryside hot spring resort. They have both public and private onsen baths. There’s also a restaurant that serves irori cuisine – food cooked over a charcoal grill on skewers. They have a FREE shuttle bus to the resort from Hakone-Yumoto Station.
    • Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (COST: ¥3,500 (both swimwear and no clothes area); ¥2,500 (swimwear pools); ¥1,500 (no clothes area) | OPEN: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (weekdays); 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (weekends) – Along with water slides and traditional-style onsens, Yunessun has specialty baths like a sake bath where you bathe in sake, a green tea bath, a coffee bath, and a wine bath. You can check out reviews of Yunessun on Tripadvisor.

    Hakone Itinerary: Day 2

    Day 2 is jampacked with tons of nature, history, and great views. You might even be able to spot Mt. Fuji!

    1. Cable Car and Ropeway to Owakudani

    Start day 2 of your Hakone itinerary by taking the cable car from Gora Station to Sounzan. Then take the ropeway to Owakudani.

    Both the cable car and ropeway are covered under your Hakone Freepass.

    2. Owakudani

    When you get to the end of the ropeway, you’ll be at Owakudani, the Great Boiling Valley.

    It was so foggy and cloudy that I didn’t see much from the ropeway. If the weather is nice, you can supposedly see amazing views of Mount Fuji.

    The highlight of the mountain is the Great Boiling Valley, Owakudani.

    The first thing you’ll notice will be the smell of sulfur.

    Yep. The valley is an active volcano and you’ll see steam coming out of these vents in the earth.

    The volcano was last active in 2019.

    Make sure to do one last touristy thing before leaving Owakudani and that is to try the black eggs.

    They’re just eggs that have been boiled in a hot spring. They taste just like a regular egg, but rumor has it that they’re supposed to add seven years to your life. I’m pretty sure no studies have scientifically proven this, so we’ll never really know. In fact, these eggs could just take 7 years away from your life.

    3. Ropeway to Togendai

    Take the ropeway down to the shore of Lake Aishi at Togendai.

    4. Pirate Ship Cruise Across Lake Ashi

    At Togendai take the pirate ship across Lake Ashi to Hakonemachi-ko. The pirate ship is included in your Hakone Free Pass.

    There are 2 ports: Hakone-machi-ko and Motohakone-ko.

    Hakone-machi-ko is closer to the next stop on this Hakone itinerary: the Hakone Checkpoint.

    Can you See Mount Fuji from Hakone?

    I didn’t see Mount Fuji on my first visit to Hakone. The weather was so bad that even one of the piers was closed.

    However, on my second visit, I could see the top part of Mt. Fuji (jump to this section for where I was able to see it.)

    You’re most likely to see Mount Fuji in the winter months.

    The photo above is what you would be able to see if the sky was clear. You can see Mount Fuji in the background.

    However, if it’s cloudy, you can forget about seeing it.

    5. Hakone Checkpoint on the Tokaido Road (Hakone Sekisho)

    COST: ¥500 original price; ¥400 (US$3.60/£ 2.75) with Hakone Freepass for adults; ¥250 original price; ¥150 with Freepass (US$1.50/£1.05) for children | OPEN: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; Dec 1 – Feb 28: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm | BUS STOP: Hakone-sekisho-ato |  WEBSITE

    After getting off the pirate ship, walk to the Hakone Checkpoint (Hakone Sekisho), a reconstruction of the last checkpoint on the Tokaido Highway. It’s a 5-minute walk.

    There are 2 parts to the Checkpoint:

    • reconstructed buildings
    • museum

    A lot of the signs are just in Japanese, but there is a printed English guide you can get at the entrance. There’s also an audio recording playing in one of the buildings that describes the checkpoint. If you wait long enough or you’re just lucky, you’ll get to hear the English version.

    I’m a giant history nerd, so I loved learning about the checkpoint and seeing what it was like.

    I found it fascinating that the guards were more concerned with making sure women weren’t being smuggled out of Edo rather than weapons being smuggled into the capital. Luckily, they were inspected by female guards.

    But just the fact that they were so concerned with women leaving shows that the daimyo’s (lord’s) wife and offspring were hostages of the shogun. With his family in Edo, the daimyo were less likely to rebel and try to overthrow the shogun. I guess this tight control worked because Japan had no civil wars for over 250 years and thus, prospered economically during that time.

    The checkpoint is located right on the edge of Lake Ashi. You can climb up a guard post to see views of the lake.

    6. Tokaido Road

    After visiting the Hakone Checkpoint, take the Old Tokaido Road to Moto-Hakone-ko, which is the pier for the pirate boat that takes you across the lake. This Tokaido Road is not the one with the original stones. That one comes later.

    To find the Tokaido Road, go past the large parking lot and look for a sign saying “Cedar Avenue 50 meters.” Follow the arrows and cross the main road. You’ll see a bus stop on your right and the beginning of a path through a forest on your left. Take the path!

    If you start walking toward Moto-Hakone (away from the Hakone Checkpoint), you should come to a path lined with tall Cedar trees. This path was part of the Tokaido Road. It’s a nice and easy walk of about 15 minutes to Moto Hakone pier.

    7. Lunch

    There are lots of restaurants located near the Moto-Hakone pier.

    I bought some food at the 7-11 across the street from the pier and had a picnic by the lake. While looking out over the lake, the clouds moved away enough to give me a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.

    8. Hakone Jinja Shrine

    COST: free | OPEN: 9 am to 4 pm

    About a 10-minute walk from the pier is the Hakone Jinja Shrine.

    After you’ve been in Japan for a while, it’s really easy to get shrined out and think about skipping this one.

    However, the Hakone shrine is one of those photo opportunities you don’t want to pass up. A shot of you and the shrine is worthy of putting on Instagram. But the line to take a photo are long.

    The original shrine was built around 1200, but the current buildings are from the twentieth century.

    9. Stone-Paved Road of the Old Hakone Highway

    COST: free | OPEN: 24/7 | BUS STOP: Moto-Hakone-ko

    The next thing you should do is hike the original stone-paved road of the Old Hakone Highway / Old Tokaido Road.

    This one is different from the one you walked on earlier. It’s paved with the original stones and it can be a real adventure walking on them. Wear good shoes as the stones are VERY slippery!

    You can take the path all the way to Hakone Yumoto. While walking the road, I met some other travelers who had started in Hakone Yumoto. They said it was taking them at least three hours and it wasn’t been easy.

    I took the path to the Amakaze Teahouse and then took a bus back to the pier. You can also take the bus to Hakone-Yumoto. Google Maps says it takes 30 minutes. For me, with my bad arthritic knees, it took me an hour to get to the teahouse.

    The Tokaido was the most important of the five highways in Japan. It was supposed to take men 12 days and women 15 days to traverse the road from Kyoto to Edo.

    Later on, when the shogun loosened travel restrictions in Japan, more and more people started traveling around the country. This led to more towns and tourism facilities opening up along the five highways. Guidebooks describing the road and famous sites around Japan became popular. The Tokaido Road also became a popular subject of woodblock prints. The most famous prints of the 56 post towns are by Hiroshige.

    10. Amazake Teahouse

    I’d suggest at least walking to the historic Amazake teahouse, one of the last remaining rest stops for weary travelers on the Tokaido Road, where you can have some tea, their special amasake, and something sweet to eat. I ordered the amasake (¥400) and Chikara Mochi (¥500). It’s a nice and cozy place to rest.

    I took the bus back to Moto-Hakone, which is where the boat is (cross the street to catch the bus). You can also take the bus to Hakone-Yumoto.

    11.  Visit an Onsen

    I recommend ending your day in Hakone with a visit to one of Hakone’s famous public onsens. You can find a list of popular onsens in this section of this post.

    Tenzan Onsen

    I decided to visit Tenzan Onsen as it was recommended by my guesthouse and guidebook as THE best one in Hakone.

    To get there from Amakaze Teahouse, take bus K to Oku-Yumoto Iriguchi (10-15 minutes). You can catch bus K right outside the front door of the teahouse. The last bus is at 4:00 pm.

    There’s very little English at the onsen. I just followed what everyone else did.

      1. Purchase a ticket for the onsen at a vending machine outside the building. If you have the Hakone Freepass, you only pay ¥1,200.
      2. Enter and put your shoes in a locker
      3. Give the attendant your ticket
      4. Go downstairs to the changing room
      5. Find a locker and take off all of your clothes but keep your towel with you. Men and women bathe in separate areas.
      6. Put the locker key around your wrist
      7. Go to the shower room and thoroughly wash yourself; a lot of Japanese wash their hair
      8. Enter the bathing area and go from pool to pool.

    There are 7 outdoor pools at Tenzen of varying temperatures and 2 sauna rooms. The water for one pool is a milky color, which always seemed very popular, and another bath is ice cold. One pool is partially inside a cave.

    When you’re finished, there are places to dry your hair and fix your makeup.

    You can also go up some stairs to a room filled with tatami mats and beanbag chairs and have a rest.

    12. Dinner at Tenzan

    I had dinner at Tenzan. They have 2 very nice restaurants with decent prices. Neither of them has English menus, but there are photos on the menus.

    One restaurant serves shabu-shabu and other dishes, and I think the other one specializes in soba noodles.

    Both of them are in a building connected by a bridge to the building with the onsens. One restaurant is upstairs and the other is just below that.

    I ate at the one on the first floor. I had the unagi (eel) for ¥1,850. Unagi is my favorite Japanese dish but it was also the only thing on the menu besides shabu-shabu that I could understand.

    Overall, I spent 3 hours at Tenzan bathing, resting, and eating.

    13. Getting from Tenzan to Hakone-Yumoto Station

    After you visit the onsen, you can take Bus K to Hakone-Yumoto Station. The last four K buses from Tenzan to Hakone-Yumoto station leave at 6:23, 6:58, 7:48, and 8:48 pm. It takes 5 minutes by bus back to the station. The bus costs 230 yen if you don’t have the Hakone Freepass.

    There’s also a hotel shuttle bus that goes to the Hakone-Yumoto train station from Tenzan. It costs 100 yen with the last shuttle leaving Tenzan at 6:55 pm.

    14. Leaving Hakone

    You can either stay in Hakone one more night or travel back to Tokyo that evening.

    Take a bus or train from Hakone-Yumoto Station to Odawara. In Odawara, you’ll need to either take the Odakyu Train to Shinjuku Station or the JR Shinkansen Train to Shinjuku or Tokyo Stations

    JR Train leaves from a different part of the station in Odawara than the Hakone-Tozen Line and the Odakyu Line. Look for signs pointing you to the Shinkansen Trains in Odawara.

    Resources for Your Hakone Itinerary

    Final Thoughts: Hakone Itinerary

    Hakone is worth a visit as long as you know what to see and do there. Staying in a nice ryokan and spending some time at an onsen will also add to your experience. If you can actually see Mount Fuji, it would be an added treat. Try to get in some hiking as well. I’d say that the more historical sights and the art museum were more interesting for me than the boat ride, ropeway, and cable car excursion. That might have been because the sky was so overcast that I couldn’t see much.

    Have you been to Hakone?

    Are you planning to add Hakone to your Japan itinerary?

    If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment box below.

    If you find this post useful, please post on social media! ♥

    Best Resources for Your Trip to Japan

    Book Your Flights for Japan

    Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Japan. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

    Book Your Accommodations for Japan:

    The best hotel booking sites for Japan are Booking.com and Agoda. They have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

    Book Your Tours for Japan:

    The three best tour booking sites for Japan are Viator, Get Your Guide, and Klook. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. Klook specializes in tours in Asia.

    Get Connected when in Japan:

    You’ve got 3 options for staying connected in Japan: a pocket WiFi (what I used), a physical SIM card, or an eSIM. Several companies offer eSIMs for Japan. I recommend getting one through Klook or Airalo.

    Book your Japan Rail Passes:

    Japan has many different types of passes. The JR Pass is one of the most popular passes. Buy them through Klook before your trip to Japan. There are other passes as well like the Hakone Freepass.

    Get Your Rail Pass for Tokyo

    Get an unlimited train pass for most metro lines in Tokyo. They’re good for 1, 2, or 3 days. I always get the 3-day pass.

    Pin it for later

    easy to follow itinerary guide Hakone Japan
    easy to follow itinerary guide Hakone Japan

    7 Comments

    1. Hii!!! I am planning to visit Hakone on July. Can you please give overall cost estimation of your itinerary? It would be a great help. Thank you ☺

      Reply
      • I spent around $290 for 2 days. If I hadn’t splurged on my accommodations and stayed somewhere simpler, it would have been around $140. Accommodations (included 2 meals) – $208 + Hakone Free Pass – $41 + museums $20 + lunch and drinks – $20-$25).

        Reply
    2. Hi, it is better to travel Japan during the spring.
      The Cherry Blossom during the spring is amazing.
      We took spectacular photos and enjoyed a wonderful family trip.

      Reply
      • Yes, I agree. The spring is a much better time to travel to Japan than in the summer.

        Reply
    3. That’s definitely a complete itinerary!! Thank you so much, saved on my bookmarks!

      Reply
    4. Hi there. I am planning a 9 day rip to Japan in mid March. Was hoping to spend time in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone. I see that travel to Hakone from Tokyo or vice versa is quite simple on the bullet train. Is there relatively fast transport from Kyoto to Hakone or Hakone to Kyoto? I don’t want to spend 4-5 hours on the train to get between Kyoto and Hakone if I can avoid it. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Yes, you can easily travel by train from Kyoto to Odawara and then take the train to Hakone. This is what I did. While you’re in Odawara, you can buy your Hakone Pass.

        Reply

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    About the Bamboo Traveler

    Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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