Hakone in a Day

If you are in the Tokyo area already. Hakone is a place worth visiting. It's just 3.5 hours away from Tokyo and the town of Hakone is warm (figuratively) and idyllic, with lots of interesting places to see.

We bought a Y5,000 2 day Hakone FreePass from the Shinjuku station in Tokyo. It includes a 2 hour train ride from Shinjuku to Odawara, and another almost 1.5 hour bus ride from Odawara to Hotel area (yes, traffic can also be bad in Japan). It also includes unlimited bus rides within Hakone, cable car, Hakone ropeway and a 2 way cruise ride on board a full size Pirate Ship! It's really a good deal and it takes away the hassle of counting your yen for every ride. To purchase the Hakone Free Pass, go to the g/f concourse, West Exit of Odakyu Shijnuku Staion.

For our hotel , we opted for the traditional ryokan (see my blog on Fuji-Hakone Guest House). It's not your typical hotel instead it uses tatami matted rooms, communal baths and usually comes with an an onsen (hot spring). Japan is a volcanically active country so onsens are scattered all over, particularly here in the Hakone area.

From Togendai, you will board this Pirate Ship which will cruise Lake Ashi. You will also return back to Togendai to catch your Hakone Ropeway from here. The cruise is only 30 minutes so stay out and enjoy the cool wind:)

Lake Ashi is a crater lake that lies along the caldera of Mount Hakone. The really lucky ones can see a glimpse of Mt. Fuji - we were part of the unlucky ones.

Your cruise starts at Togendai and docks at Hakone-Machi. The houses are traditional Japanese style. You start your walk from here. We walked along the highway going to the Palace and coming back we used the lake route to see 2 scenes.

A reconstruction of the Hakone Checkpoint from the feudal Edo Period. Just a 5 minute walk from cruise drop off at Hakone-Machi station.

Pass the exit of Hakone Checkpoint and walk along the path of the Lake. You will get to a parking lot which has a walk way up to the Hakone Detached Palace.

A good view of Lake Ashi and, if it's a clear day, Mt. Fuji can be seen from here. It used to serve as a summer palace for the Imperial Family. Now, you can take tea from here and enjoy the view of Lake Ashi.

The trail to and going down the Palace.

Once, down you may want to carefully cross the highway to see the Ancient Cedar Avenue. It is a 2km cedar stretch that dates back from Edo Shongunate period of 1618.

After the trip back to Togendai, head for the Hakone Ropeway (20 minutes) which will bring you to the volcanic valley of Owakudani.

Owakudani is an active volcanic zone of Mount Hakone. The white fumes on the picture are sulfrous fumes. I think it's amazing to see that a volcano that erupted 3000 years ago is still showing this much activity.

Black eggs that are said to prolong one's life by 7 years are a must buy. The egg's shell is blackened by the sulfur from the natural hot water it was boiled in. It has a little bit stronger taste than the normal egg. We bought 5 eggs for Y500 in the souvenir shop. If you just one to try one, the first entrance to Owakudani also sells the eggs at Y100 for 1 piece. 35 years to your life is just too much;)

After Owakudani take the Hakone Tozan Cablecar which will bring you back to Gora. Along the 10 minute ride are jump off museum points. We didn't have time for this. When you reach Gora, there will be buses to take you to your hotel.

You can break this down to 2 days if you have time. We did it in one day because the first day was pouring so we just went back to our ryokan for our Japanese beer and tried the onsen (see my horrifying and hilarious onsen experience).

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