Autumn in Japan: A trip to Hakone
Autumn is coming in Japan and during that time viewing autumn leaves is as popular as cherry blossoms in Spring. Two famous places to do so are Hakone and Nikko which are both closely located to Tokyo. I went to Hakone last weekend.
Well Hakone’s full name is Fuji-Hakone-Izu-Nationalpark, Hakane-Machi is a city located in it, it’s marks the border between Kanto (Tokyo, Yokohama,…) and Kansai Region (Osaka, Kobe,…).
Public transportation is operated by Odakyu and Hakone can be reached directly from Shinjuku by the Odakyu Line to Odawara, which builds a “gate” to Hakone. Odakyu also offers a free passes, with those all public transportation can be used included a single round trip from Tokyo. The cheapest option is valid for two days and costs 5,140 Yen (in October 2014). And that’s the one I used for my trip.
1. Odakyu-Line to Odawara
A freepass can be bought on vending machines at all Odakyu Line stations, so it’s not necessary to go the Shinjuku. By depending where you enter the train you should check on Hyperdia because it may be necessary to transfer. But you have to be careful the tool also shows the “Romance-Car”, which has extra cost. Those trains’ name ofter include Hakone.
On the way in it was already possible to spot Mount Fuji from the window.
2. Odawara Station → Gora Station with Tozan Train
This train is an attraction itself. Its route is rather steep and the landscape is beautiful. There are also three switchback on the route.
Of course it’s possible to get off the train on the war. For example you can get off at Miya no shita station and walk to the next one. There are nice waterfalls along the way. I finally continues to Gora station by train.
3. Gora Station → Sounzan Station by cable bar
Many buses to Fuji-san leave from here, also museums can be found in this direction. But I honestly found the museums quite expensive. I also didn’t take any bus to to Fuji as there already are many viewpoints on the way. So I took the cable car to Sounzan Station, from there it’s possible to look a little further and as you can see the autumn leaves had not been fully coloured yet.
4. Sounzan Station → Owakudani Station using the rope way
This station was definitely the best part, from far already it’s possible to see steam and volcanic gas. After a 5 minute walk you can directly access those hot springs. Everything had a strange sulphuric smell and it was possible to buy eggs cooked in the springs. They became a black colour.
In the area is also a viewpoint for Mount Fuji.
5. Owakudani → Togendai Station with the ropeway
After a 15 minute ride with had an awesome view to Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi, I reached Lake Ashi. The boot over the lake to Hakone-Machi is included in the freepass.
6. Boot on Lake Ashi to Hakone-Machi
It’s a modern boot in Pirate style, a little Disney like.
I finally reached Hakone-Machi and after visiting a shrine I started my way back to Tokyo.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu-Nationalpark is not a place just for a day trip, it has many Ryokans, hotels and Onzen hotels. Onzens can also used if you’re not staying in the hotel. I live close to the Odakyu Line, so i decided to stay for a day.
I would recommend Hakone for people wanting to see Mount Fuji. The tour has a nice combination of different kinds of transportation and landscape and is feasible to almost anybody.