Hakone

Steams of sulfur rise from the rocks at Owakudani

Hakone (箱根) is a mountainous area west of Tokyo in Japan. The Hakone checkpoint on the historical Tokaido road marks the beginning of the Kanto region.

NOTE: While most of Hakone is open for business, there is currently a no-entry zone in place around a volcanic vent in Owakudani for safety reasons due to recent seismic activity. As the Owakudani station of the Hakone Ropeway is within the no-entry zone, operations on the ropeway are partially suspended. See Get Around below for more information and alternate travel options.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airports to Hakone are in Tokyo. Note that if you have a reservation at a ryokan in Hakone, unless your plane lands in the morning, it is recommended that you spend your first evening in Tokyo or Yokohama, or else you might miss out on (and be charged for) dinner at the ryokan, or worse, you may be locked out of (and be charged for) your room at the ryokan's curfew time, if there is one.

Allow about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to reach Hakone from Narita Airport by train, and about 1 1/2 to 2 hours from Haneda Airport.

By train

Hakone-Tozan Line

The fastest and most expensive method of reaching Hakone from Tokyo is to take a Tokaido Shinkansen Kodama (こだま) train from Tokyo to Odawara, then transfer to the Hakone-Tozan Line for the run to Hakone-Yumoto (trains operated by Odakyu Railway). The one-way fare starts from ¥3730 for unreserved seating, but with a Japan Rail Pass you need only to pay ¥310 for the Hakone-Tozan line - easily done with a Suica or PASMO card (Limited Express trains require an extra ¥200 surcharge). With a good connection, the trip takes one hour.

Be aware that the JR East Rail Pass does not provide access to the Tokaido Shinkansen and to make use of this pass you will need to ride the regular Tokaido Main Line to Odawara. From Tokyo, a convenient choice that is valid with the JR East Pass is the "Odoriko" limited express train service. These trains have bigger windows and better seating than the regular commuter trains, and seat reservations can be made. There are at least 3-4 runs during the day in either direction.

Rail Pass holders can also use regular JR commuter trains to Odawara, which cost ¥1490 and take 75-90 minutes from Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station. Green Car (First Class) seats are available; you can purchase an electronic Green Car ticket prior to boarding with a SUICA card, then touch the card over the seat you wish to sit in, available on a first-come first-serve basis. The surcharge for Green Car seats between Tokyo and Odawara is ¥980 on weekdays and ¥780 on weekends and holidays; you can also purchase a Green Car seat on the train for an additional fee. Holders of the Green Car Japan Rail Pass can use these seats at no additional charge, and with no fare tickets required.

The affordable method of reaching Hakone from Tokyo is to take the Odakyu Odawara Line from Shinjuku station. The fastest train on the Odakyu Line is the Hakone (はこね) Limited Express train (特急 tokkyū), which runs twice an hour for most of the day. The 85-90 minute journey costs ¥2080. Note that some trains, called Super Hakone (スーパーはこね), use newer train equipment, while evening rush hour runs from Shinjuku are called Home Way (ホームウェイ). The slower Odakyu express train (急行 kyūkō) runs twice an hour at a cost of only ¥1190, reaching Hakone in two hours.

Odakyu Super Hakone services also offer saloon seating - private compartments with a table that can seat up to 4 people. The saloon fare from Shinjuku to Hakone is ¥3560 for the compartment, plus the basic ¥1190 fare per person.

Rail connections can be made at Odawara from Nagoya (2 1/2 hrs), Kyoto (3 hrs) and other locations throughout Japan.

Get around

Pirate ship on Lake Ashi (Simply Ashinoko in Japanese)

Modes of transport in the Hakone region are many and varied. Your options include:

Most people opt for the Odakyu Hakone Free Pass, which includes a return trip from Shinjuku and allows unlimited use of all of the above forms of transport for several days. In addition, pass holders can receive discounts at many hot springs, museums, restaurants, and other locations by showing their pass.

The 2-day Free Pass costs ¥5140 from Shinjuku and ¥4000 from Odawara. A 3-day pass can be purchased for an extra ¥500. Additionally, if you have a Free Pass from Shinjuku you can use the Hakone Limited Express train by paying a surcharge of ¥870 each way. You can also travel in a saloon compartment, if offered, at a cost of ¥3560 for the compartment. Holders of the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Rail Pass should travel to Odawara station by JR using the methods described earlier, and pay for the Free Pass from Odawara.

During the Hakone Ropeway Suspension

As of November 2015, the ropeway is only open from Togendai to Ubako daily, except alternating Thursdays, from 9:45 AM to 3:15 PM. The remaining sections from Ubako to Owakudani and Sounzan are suspended. Shuttle buses connecting Sounzan, Ubako and Togendai continue to operate daily from 9:15 AM to 4:15 PM every 15-20 minutes.

Regularly scheduled buses also offer alternate connections:

See

Lake Ashi and Mt.Fuji

The volcanically active Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, centered around Lake Ashinoko, is a popular tourist attraction well known for its onsen (hot springs) and its views of Mount Fuji.

Do

No trip to Hakone would be complete without a dip at a Japanese hot spring (onsen). If you're staying overnight, your lodgings may include bathing facilities, but if not many hotels open up their baths to visitors for around ¥500 or so.

Eat

Two black eggs in a plate

If you stay at a ryokan, dinner and breakfast might be included, make sure in advance.

Sleep

Hakone has many onsen ryokan, traditional Japanese inns featuring hot springs. Facilities vary widely, although prices are generally somewhat elevated (especially on weekends) due to the proximity of Tokyo.

Budget

Mid-range

Hakone Yumoto Onsen Street

Splurge

Go next

Routes through Hakone

END  W  E  Odawara
Shizuoka NumazuMishima  W  E  OdawaraFujisawa Yokohama


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, February 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.