Hakone is a popular tourist resort destination in Kanagawa Prefecture which is famous for its hot spring spa resorts, art museums, cable car rides and beautiful scenery. Most of all this area is known for the unforgettable view of Mount Fuji rising up above Lake Ashinoko. Although Hakone is closer to Tokyo, it can be reached from Osaka fairly easily by train, and by bus. It is also possible to travel there by car or to fly first to Tokyo and then travel on to Hakone.
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The Main Attractions
Odawara City is the gateway to the Hakone region and Odawara Castle is its biggest landmark. Though a castle stood here since at least the late 15th century, it was pulled down under the orders of the Meiji government in the late 19th century, and the current three-tiered structure is a ferro-concrete reconstruction which dates from 1960.
The interior of the modern castle holds a museum with interactive displays detailing the castle’s history and you can enjoy excellent views over the city from the top floor observation deck. The park around the castle is a popular cherry blossom viewing location in the spring.
The castle is easily reached by a ten minute walk south of Odawara Station’s East Exit. A ticket for all of the castle facilities costs 700 yen for adults and 250 yen for children.
Hakone Jinja Shrine
Hakone Jinja Shrine is a spacious shrine complex surrounded by an ancient cedar forest at the foot of Mount Hakone. The shrine was first established in 757 at the top of the mountain but was moved to its current location at the edge of Lake Ashinoko in 1667. Among the many shrine buildings is a sub-shrine dedicated to the Soga brothers, two legendary heroes celebrated in both drama and art who are said to have been buried at the foot of Mount Fuji. There is also a Kuzuryu sub-shrine which is dedicated to the nine-headed dragon that protects the shrine and which is believed to dwell in the lake.
The most famous structure here is a beautiful red torii gate, called heiwa no torii, (“the Gate of Peace”) which appears to float in the waters at the lake’s edge. To get to Hakone Jinja Shrine take a H Route bus from Hakone-Yumoto Station and get off at Hakone-jinja-iriguchi bus stop. From here it is a ten minute walk to the shrine. Buses bound for this stop depart regularly from Hakone-Yumoto Station, take about 30 minutes and cost 960 yen. The shrine itself is free to enter.
Hakone Tozan Railway
Hakone Tozan Line is a mountain railway line that runs between Odawara Station and Hakone-Yumoto Station and then between Hakone-Yumoto Station and Gora Station. The train climbs its steepest slopes on the way to Gora Station which is a transfer point for the Hakone Tozan Cable Car. The Hakone Tozan Line is Japan’s first mountain railway and is an enjoyable way to view the alpine scenery. The route is especially beautiful in June when hydrangeas along the line are in full bloom.
A popular circuit is to take this train in combination with the Hakone Tozan Cable Car and then to transfer to the Hakone Ropeway for fantastic aerial views. The fare for the 40 minute journey between Hakone-Yumoto Station and Gora Station is 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for children. However, we recommend buying the discount Hakone Free Pass as this will cover all your fares for the railway, cable car, and ropeway.
Hakone Open-Air Museum
Hakone Open-Air Museum features a park with a permanent display of 120 sculptures by both Japanese and international artists. Masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Joan Miró, Constantin Brancusi and Auguste Rodin are all featured among the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Also on the museum grounds are several indoor exhibition halls, two restaurants, a café, and a souvenir shop.
Entry to the museum is 1,600 yen for adults, 1,200 yen for university and senior high school students, and 800 yen for middle school and elementary school students. Hakone Open Air Museum is a 2 minute walk from Chokoku-no-Mori Station on the Hakone Tozan Line. This is just one stop before the terminus of the line at Gora Station.
Hakone Tozan Cable Car
Hakone Tozan Cable Car takes ten minutes to run between Gora Station and Sounzan Station where it links up with the Hakone Ropeway. This cable line has been in operation since 1922, but was modernized with new cable cars in 1995.
These cars have large windows to maximize your enjoyment of the panoramic views as cables pull you up the steep mountain slope. If you don’t have a Hakone Free Pass the regular fare between Gora Station and Sounzan Station is 420 yen for adults and 210 yen for children.
Hakone Ropeway is an aerial lift carrying passenger gondolas between Sounzan Station and Togendai Station. Each gondola can hold up to 18 passengers and they depart at one minute intervals. On route at Owakudani Station passengers have to transfer to the second part of the ropeway but the full journey takes just 30 minutes.
If you do not have a Hakone Free Pass the full fare between Sounzan Station and Togendai Station is 1,370 yen for adults and 690 yen for children. Once you reach the terminus at Togendai Station you have a number of choices. You can go back the way you came, or take the Hakone Tozan Bus back to Hakone-Yumoto Station, or you can board a cruise ship and sail across Lake Ashinoko.
Owakudani Valley is a dramatic and desolate volcanic zone, the aftermath of an ancient eruption, which is dotted with steaming hot springs and reeking sulfurous fumes. Blackened eggs boiled in the naturally hot waters are a traditional local snack. There are hiking trails through the valley but these are often closed due to high levels of volcanic activity and the danger of toxic fumes. If the nature trails are closed you can still view the valley from the safety of the ropeway gondola. Owakudani is best reached by taking the ropeway to Owakudani Station.
Lake Ashinoko Cruises
A Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashinoko is another good way to view the local scenery. If you are lucky and the weather is good you may also be rewarded with a view of Mount Fuji over the lake. On overcast days however, the mountain is not visible. Three colorful “pirate ships” operated by Odakyu make a circuit of the lake between the ports of Hakonemachi-ko, Motohakone-ko, and Togendai-ko.
The Izuhakone Railway company also operate boat cruises around the lake but these are not covered by Odakyu’s Hakone Free Pass. If you take one of Odakyu’s pirate ships you can do the full 60 minute circuit of the lake from any of the ports listed above. Alternatively you can take a one-way trip which takes about 35 minutes from Hakonemachi-ko and Motohakone-ko to Togendai-ko, or from Togendai-ko to Hakonemachi-ko and Motohakone-ko. Motohakone-ko is also convenient for Hakone Jinja Shrine. A popular choice is to take the Hakone Ropeway to Togendai and then board a cruise ship there.
If you don’t have a Hakone Free Pass a one-way journey on an Odakyu cruise ship is 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children and a round-trip journey is 1,840 yen for adults and 910 yen for children.
Pola Museum was opened by the Pola cosmetics company in 2002. It houses an impressive collection of French Impressionist paintings, as well as other paintings, sculptures, glassworks and ceramics by artists from Japan and overseas. Entry to the museum costs 1,800 yen for adults, 1,600 yen for senior citizens, 1,300 yen for university and senior high school students, and 700 yen for middle school and elementary school students.
To get to the Pola Museum from Hakone-Yumoto Station take a TP Route bus bound for Togendai and get off at the Pola Bijutsukan stop just outside the museum. The fare is 840 yen and it takes around 35 minutes. Check the Pola Museum website for a detailed bus schedule and for other travel options.
Sengokuhara is a district of Hakone that is best known for the dramatic pampas grass fields which are particularly splendid in the autumn. There are a number of other attractions worth visiting in the area which are all within walking distance of each other. These include the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands, the Little Prince Museum, Hakone Garasu-no-Mori (the Venetian Glass Museum), and the Lalique Museum.
There are also several hot spring resort hotels in this area so many people choose to stay here in order to make the most of the local attractions. To view the pampas fields take a T Route bus bound for Togendai from Hakone-Yumoto Station and get off at the Sengoku-Kogen bus stop. The journey takes about 30 minutes and the fare is 860 yen.
Hakone Kowakien Yunessun
Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is a hot spring theme park which has mixed bathing areas where guests should wear swim suits, and more traditional hot spring spa facilities which are separated by gender and where guests should bathe without any clothing. The swim suit area is a good option for travelers who would like to relax in a hot spring bath without getting naked in front of strangers. In this mixed bathing amusement zone you can also find a variety of themed baths which include wine, tea, coffee and sake pools.
Entry to the swimsuit area is 2,900 yen for adults and 1,600 yen for children. Entry to the traditional area is 1,900 yen for adults and 1,200 yen for children. Combined entry to both areas is 4,100 yen for adults and 2,100 yen for children. To get to Hakone Kowakien Yunessun take a H Route Bus from Hakone-Yumoto Station to the Kowakien bus stop. The bus takes 18 minutes and the fare is 580 yen.
How to Get There
The simplest and quickest way to travel between Osaka and Hakone is to take the shinkansen bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Odawara Station and then change to the local Hakone Tozan Line for Hakone-Yumoto Station. However, other options are available which include sleeper train, bus, plane, and car.
There are two choices when traveling by rail from Osaka to Hakone: taking the shinkansen or taking the Sunrise sleeper train. The shinkansen is the quickest, cheapest, and most direct service. However, taking the sleeper train is a unique experience and it will save you the cost of a night in a hotel.
Taking the Shinkansen
The Hikari shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station runs directly to Odawara Station in 2 hours and 19 minutes. An unreserved seat on this train costs 12,100 yen. At Odawara Station you can then change to the Hakone Tozan Line which will take you to Hakone-Yumoto Station in around 15 minutes for 310 yen. Altogether the journey time is around 3 hours and the full fare is 12,410 yen. In addition to the Hikari service there are other shinkansen services from Shin-Osaka, but these will require a transfer on the way. Also be aware that the Hikari shinkansen is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but the Nozomi service is not. The Hakone Tozan Line is a private railway and so is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Taking the Sleeper Train
The combined Sunrise Seto & Sunrise Izumo service is an express sleeper train that stops at Osaka Station at 0.34 am. To get to Hakone you should take the train as far as Atami Station which it will reach at 5.43 am. At Atami Station you should transfer to a JR Central train for Odawara Station at 6.03 am and at Odawara Station you should transfer again to the Hakone Tozan Line for Hakone-Yumoto, arriving there at 6.58 am.
The complete fare for this journey is 17,260 yen and the full journey time is 6 hours and 24 minutes. If you choose to reserve the cheaper “nobinobi zaseki” or “stretch-out seats” on the Sunrise sleeper service, this part of the journey will be covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The Japan Rail Pass will also cover the journey between Atami Station and Odawara Station, but it will not cover the journey between Odawara Station and Hakone-Yumoto Station which costs 310 yen.
The Sunrise Express is the last regularly scheduled sleeper train in Japan. To learn more about this unique train read our article The Sunrise Seto & Sunrise Izumo – Overnight Sleeper Trains from Osaka to Tokyo
To travel by bus between Osaka and Hakone, you will first need to take a highway bus as far as Tokyo or Yokohama and then transfer to a local highway bus service for Hakone. JR Bus operate highway bus services from Osaka Station to Shinjuku, Tokyo Station and Yokohama. Both daytime and nighttime services are available and can be booked online at Kousokubus.net. The journey takes about 8 or 9 hours and can cost between 4,000 and 8,000 yen depending on the season, service and seating.
Willer Express also run night bus services from Osaka that reach destinations in Shinjuku, Tokyo Station, or Yokohama in the early morning. Prices range between 4,000 and 9,000 yen depending on the service, seating plan, and the date of the journey. These services can also be booked online on the Willer Express website.
Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus is a service that runs to Hakone-Togendai from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, Tokyo Station and Yokohama Station. The bus from Shinjuku takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs 2,010 yen. The bus from Tokyo Station takes 2 hours and 5 minutes and costs 2,160 yen. The bus from Yokohama Station takes 2 hours and 7 minutes and costs 1,950 yen. For more information on this service you can download an English language PDF schedule which lists all the stops made in Hakone. Tickets can be bought at the highway bus office or on board the bus.
Keikyu Bus also operate a bus service from Yokohama Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station which takes 1 hour and 25 minutes and costs 1,540 yen. Tickets can be bought at the Yokohama bus ticket office. For more information check on schedules check the Keikyu Bus English language website.
JR Bus Kanto also operate a bus service between Tokyo Station and Hakone-Togendai. This service takes 2 hours and 5 minutes and costs 2,160 yen. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office or reserved online via a Japanese website.
Another possible route is to travel by plane between Osaka and Tokyo and then travel by bus or train from the airport to Hakone. The simplest way to do this is to take a bus directly to Osaka Itami Airport, fly to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, and then take a bus which goes directly to Hakone. It is also possible to use Kansai International Airport in Osaka, or Narita Airport in Tokyo, but to use these airports will require more complicated journeys by train with several transfers.
To get to Osaka Itami Airport you can board an Airport Limousine Bus at several locations in the Umeda area around Osaka Station including Hotel Hanshin, Herbis Osaka, Hotel New Hankyu, and Osaka Marubiru. The journey time is around 30 minutes and the fare is just 640 yen.
From Osaka Itami Airport you can fly to Haneda Airport in Tokyo is around 1 hour and 10 minutes. Air fares will change with the season but could be anywhere between 11,000 to 25,000 yen.
From Haneda Airport you can board bus services for either Hakone-Togendai or Hakone-Yumoto. The bus for Hakone-Togendai takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes, costs 2,260 yen. This bus also makes a stop directly outside the Senkyoro Hotel. The bus for Hakone-Yumoto takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes and costs 1,950 yen. Buses for Hakone-Togendai are more frequent and there are eight services between 7.50 and 22.05. There are only two bus services for Hakone-Yumoto however, at 8.25 and 12.35.
Overall travel times will differ according to your time of departure but it could take about 4 hours to reach Hakone-Togendai and between 6 and 7 hours to reach Hakone-Yumoto.
Driving from Osaka to the Hakone region is a long and complicated journey. If your starting point is Umeda, then the fastest route will take you about 5 hours and 30 minutes (dependent on traffic conditions), and cost you about 13,000 yen in toll fees. Of course you should also factor into your expenses the cost of renting a car. Once you have rented your car you can put your destination’s address into the car’s GPS satellite navigation system and it will show you the way. However, to give you an idea of what a complex route this is, all the roads you will need to take are listed below.
Hanshin Expressway Route 11 Ikeda Line > Hanshin Expressway Route 1 Loop Route > Hanshin Expressway No. 12 Moriguchi Route > Kinki Expressway > Meishin Expressway > Meishin Expressway (Otsu Connection Route) > Shin-Meishin Expressway > Higashi-Meihan Expressway > Isewangan Expressway > Shin-Tomei Expressway > Tomei Expressway > Odawara-Atsugi Road > Seisho Bypass > National Route 1
There are a number of car rental businesses in the Umeda area. For more information on these check our article on Car Rental at Osaka Station.
Getting Around Hakone
The two major transit hubs for this area are Odawara Station in Odawara City, and Hakone-Yumoto Station in Hakone. Those traveling by train to Hakone will usually take a JR or shinkansen service as far as Odawara Station and then transfer to the private Hakone Tozan Line in order to get to Hakone-Yumoto Station.
From Hakone-Yumoto Station you can get to most of the local attractions by bus, taxi or mountain railway. If you plan on using local bus services, the Hakone Tozan Bus website has a lot of useful information to help you plan your trip. The Bus Stop Guide to Hakone-Yumoto Station has links to timetables and a handy map showing you where to find your stop. You can also download a PDF bus map with bus stop information and detailed information on how to ride a bus.
Hakone Free Pass
Hakone’s major sites and attractions cover a wide area so to save money on transport expenses it is a good idea to get the Hakone Free Pass offered by Odakyu Electric Railway. This is a discount ticket that covers all five of the transportation networks below:
- Hakone Tozan Line
- Hakone Tozan Cable Car
- Hakone Ropeway
- Hakone Sightseeing Cruise
- The “Kanko Shisetsu-Meguri” tourist bus
The pass also covers designated areas of Hakone Tozan Bus, Tokai Bus Orange Shuttle, and Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus. In addition this pass includes special discounts at many tourist locations around Hakone such as museums, restaurants, shops, and hot spring facilities. Both 2-day and 3-day passes are available and there are different types that also cover the cost of travel from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, or from Odawara Station in Odawara City. The Hakone Free Pass can be bought at Odakyu Line station ticket offices or from the ticket vending machines at Odawara Station. For full details and prices check the official English language Hakone Free Pass webpage.
Where to Stay
No visit to Hakone would be complete without a relaxing stay at a hot spring spa resort hotel. The only problem is which of the many fine hotels in the region should you choose? Below we have listed some of the most popular hotels in Hakone. For your convenience the hotels are divided by location into hotels close to Hakone-Yumoto Station, hotels by the lake, hotels along the Hakone Tozan Railway Line, and hotels in the Sengokuhara district. All of the following resort hotels have public hot spring bathing facilities divided by gender, and some also have private hot spring tubs in their guest rooms too.
Hotels Near Hakone-Yumoto Station
Hotel Kajikaso is a typical Japanese hotel with tatami mat floors in the guest rooms, and Japanese fine dining served for both dinner and breakfast. Among the facilities are a piano lounge, a souvenir shop, a games room, and karaoke rooms. The hotel has indoor and outdoor public hot spring bathing areas and some guest rooms also have their own hot spring baths. Hotel Kajikaso is a five minute walk from Hakone-Yumoto Station.
Yumoto Fujiya Hotel is a large modern Western style hotel with six restaurants serving a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and French cuisines. Among the facilities are a large outdoor swimming pool, a spa with a sauna and massage treatments, a barber and beauty salon, a souvenir shop, and karaoke rooms. This hotel has large outdoor and indoor hot spring bathing facilities that are available both for hotel guests and day-trippers who do not want to spend the night. Private hot-spring baths are also available. Yumoto Fujiya Hotel is just a 2 minute walk from Hakone-Yumoto Station.
Fukuzumiro Ryokan is a historic Japanese inn which was first established in 1890 and has since hosted many famous writers, poets and artists including the novelists Yasunari Kawabata and Natsume Soseki and the nihonga painter Kawai Gyokudo. The hotel has just 17 traditional Japanese style rooms and each one has its own unique design. Seasonal multi-course meals are served in the private guest rooms. The alkaline thermal waters in the hot spring bath tubs are said to be good for stiff muscles, poor circulation and fatigue. Staying at this elegant hotel and enjoying old-style Japanese hospitality will be an experience you will never forget. Fukuzumiro Ryokan is a 12 minute walk or a five minute taxi ride from Hakone-Yumoto Station. There is also a special orange shuttle bus opposite the station that will get you to the hotel in 8 minutes for a fare of 100 yen. Be sure to board the C Route orange bus bound for Tonosawa and get off at the Fukuzumiro stop.
Hotels by the Lake
Odakyu Hotel de Yama has contemporary Western style guest rooms, French and Japanese restaurants, a café serving tea and desserts, an observatory with views over the lake, and a beautiful flower garden with rhododendrons that are especially gorgeous in May. The natural water in the hot spring baths is alkaline and good for the skin. Massage and aroma oil treatments are available in the hotel spa. To get to Odakyu Hotel de Yama from Hakone-Yumoto Station, take Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Motohakone-ko for 35 minutes. The bus fare is 960 yen. From the Motohakone-ko stop you can board a free shuttle bus which takes another 5 minutes to reach the hotel. This hotel is an 8 minute walk from Hakone Jinja Shrine.
The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko is a luxurious modern hotel on the banks of Lake Ashinoko. The hotel facilities include hot spring baths, a spa with massage treatments, French and Japanese restaurants, and tennis courts. Soak yourself in the hot spring waters while enjoying a view over the lake. This hotel is a 30 minute taxi ride from Hakone-Yumoto Station. Alternatively you can ride a free shuttle bus to the hotel from Odawara Station but you will need to book this in advance.
Hotels on the Hakone Tozan Railway Line
Hakone Tokinoshizuku is a luxurious ryokan style inn which serves kaiseki multicourse dinners and Western style breakfasts. All guest rooms have their own outdoor bath tubs with natural hot spring waters. The hotel also has public bathing areas, a cigar bar, a library, a souvenir shop, and aromatherapy services. To get there take the Hakone Tozan Railway Line to Miyanoshita Station. From there you can call the hotel and they will send a shuttle bus to pick you up. The train fare from Hakone-Yumoto Station to Miyanoshita Station is 270 yen and it takes 25 minutes.
Resorpia Hakone is a comfortable Western style hotel with two Japanese restaurants, a bar with private karaoke rooms, a large garden swimming pool and both indoor and outdoor hot spring bathing facilities. Free shuttle bus services are available from Gora Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway Line and also from Odawara Station.
Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa is an outstanding luxury hotel with friendly staff and excellent service. Among the facilities are three restaurants serving Western and Japanese style cuisine, a gift shop, a spa with massage treatments and two large hot spring pools with health-giving mineral-rich waters. All guests can enjoy complementary drinks in the hotel living room. This hotel is a 5 minute car ride from Gora Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway Line. When you get to Gora Station you can call the hotel and they will pick you up. It is also possible to book a complementary shuttle service from Odawara Station.
Hotels in Sengokuhara
Sengokuhara is an especially popular resort location because of the large number of local attractions and the health giving properties of its natural mineral waters. Typically the spa water here is milky white in color and contains sulfur, iron, calcium, magnesium and other minerals that are said to be good for easing tired limbs and stiff muscles.
Senkyoro is a ryokan style inn set in the middle of a beautiful stroll garden with a variety of seasonal blooms. Here you can enjoy colorful multicourse Japanese cuisine, massage and essential oil treatments, and ceramic art lessons. In addition to the public baths, many guest rooms have their own open-air hot spring tubs. To get there from Hakone-Yumoto Station take the Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Togendai and get off at the Senkyoro-mae stop. The bus journey takes around 26 minutes and costs 800 yen.
Mount View Hakone. At this luxury ryokan you can enjoy spacious Japanese style rooms and fine Japanese dining. All of the public onsen baths have beautiful garden views. There is also an option for day-trippers to enjoy one of the public baths without staying the night. To get there from Hakone-Yumoto Station, take the Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Togendai and get off at the Sengokuhara-bunka-center-mae stop. From there it is a one minute walk to the hotel. The bus takes around 25 minutes and costs 800 yen.
Rikyuan is a cozy old-style ryokan with traditional tatami mat rooms. Here you can enjoy a multi-course kaiseki dinner and a healthy Japanese breakfast. Two hot spring baths are available for private booking. The natural sulfate waters are said to be good for a range of ailments including stiff joints, sprains, and poor circulation. To get there from Hakone-Yumoto Station take the Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Togendai and get off at the Daigatake stop. From there it is a two minute walk. The bus takes around 27 minutes and costs 860 yen.
Hakone Sengokuhara Prince Hotel is luxury resort hotel nestled in the Sengokuhara highlands. The hotel has contemporary Western style rooms with wonderful views of the mountain scenery. Among the facilities are three restaurants serving French, Japanese, and buffet cuisine, a bar, a souvenir shop, tennis courts and a golf course. From the public hot spring bath you can enjoy a view over Mount Hakone. This hotel is a 30 minute taxi ride from Hakone-Yumoto Station.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by (zero one, taka.Y, kazukiatuko, yaophotograph, denkei, tildroom, maiayase, patrykkosmider, fuchsia, matya1234, kuuge, GERBERA) / PIXTA. All rights reserved.