Hello everyone! It’s currently the second week of my month long Spring break in Tokyo, and I am loving not having to cram Japanese every morning. Today, I’ll be talking about my recent trip to Hakone–a town about two hours away from Tokyo that is famous for its hot springs. It’s an incredibly relaxing town, filled with great sights to see so let’s get started!
Hakone Free Pass
If you are looking for a convenient way to travel to and from Hakone, this pass is a life saver. We chose to buy it from the ticket machine at Shinjuku Station, but you can purchase the pass from any station on the Odakyu Line. It costed between 5140-5640 yen (about $55USD). With the pass, you are able to do a round trip from Shinjuku Station to Hakone, have unlimited rides on all of the transportation systems in the area, in addition to receiving discounts on several restaurants, museums, and hot springs!
There is an additional option to purchase an ticket on the “Limited Express Romancecar”, which costed about 1200 yen extra, but I found that taking the local express trains took only about 20 minutes longer and was included in the Hakone pass. Feel free to check out the link below to see what other locations the Hakone pass covers!
The first stop on our list was Odawara Castle, which was conveniently located on the route to Hakone. Located about a 10 minute walk from Odawara Station, this impressive historical landmark was built in the 1400s. However, due to an earthquake, a majority of the castle had to be rebuilt from blueprints, but the current day structure has been converted into a museum. Inside there were historical artifacts such as samurai armor, swords, and important scrolls–all of which belonged to the Hojo Clan during Japan’s Warring States Period (1467-1603).
Hakone Open Air Museum
This museum was honestly one of my favorite places in Hakone as it had art installations from both Japanese and International artists, in addition to a gallery featuring pieces made by Picasso himself! The museum also had a free footbath area, which was much needed in the cold rainy weather.
From Gora Station, we made our way up the mountain via Hakone Ropeway, a cablecar that was included in the Hakone Free pass. This volcanic crater was created after an eruption by Mount Hakone thousands of years ago. It is now a popular tourist destination as it is said that eating the hot springs’ black eggs will increase your life by seven years.
Note: From Owakudani, you are able to take another cable car down to Togendai station. At the base of the station, there is a sightseeing boat that takes you across Lake Ashinoko to the infamous Hakone Shrine. It’s important to know when the last boat leaves (around 4:45pm) as our group was unable to make it on board, leaving us no other choice but to return back to our hotel OR wait an hour for the bus.
After a sad, futile trip to see Hakone Shrine before it closed, we returned to Hakone-Yumoto station to rest our tired bodies at one of the many hot spring 温泉 (Onsen) facilities located in the area. After all, it’s not a trip to Japan’s famous hot spring town without a visit to the hot springs!