Our experience using the Hakone Freepass for a day.
Tokyo is my number 1, ultimate, favorite destination ever. And though I like its busy-ness and chaoticness, it might get too much for some people. Good thing Japan is excellent at public transportation for its citizens and tourists that you can easily use them to explore the country. There are numerous places near Tokyo that lets you unwind and forget about the city, and Hakone is one of the easiest one to go to.
We purchased our Odakyu Hakone Freepass at Shinjuku Station, at one of the ticket vendos out there. Now I’m not sure if all machines sell Hakone passes, but just to make sure, we asked where the Odakyu ticketing was and bought ours there.
Our complete Itinerary for the day:
- Shinjuku to Odawara (via Odakyu Railway)
- Odawara to Gora (via Hakone Tozan Railways)
- Gora to Sounzan (via Sounzan Cable Car)
- Sounzan to Owakudani (via Hakone Ropeway)
- Owakudani to Togendai (via Hakone Ropeway)
- Togendai to Hakone-machi (via Hakone Sightseeing Cruise)
- Late Lunch at Hotoriya Restaurant
- Sightseeing/walk towards Hakone Shrine
- Explore Onshi Hakone Park
- Ancient Cedar Avenue
- Hakone Shrine
- Lake Ashi Torii Gate (Hakone Jinjya Heiwa-no-Torii)
- Bus from Motohakone to Odawara (via Hakone Tozan Bus)
- Odawara to Shinjuku (via Odakyu Railway)
It depends on your mood, but you can totally reverse the order of what we did. Maybe there’s less tourist doing that so that might be good? I’m not really sure. But our route was safe and we didn’t experience any problems along the way.
Shinjuku to Odawara (via Odakyu Railway)
We got out of Tokyo a little bit late at around 10AM. I suggest going earlier if you want to be back before dark, or if you just want to make the most out of the pass. Also, we didn’t purchase the limited express ticket for the Romancecar because the next available schedule was later than we wanted. Looking for the train was as easy as any other station in Japan so we were headed to Odawara in no time!
Odawara to Gora (via Hakone Tozan Railways)
The train to Gora was just as simple as the previous ride. Nothing really special, except for the tiles in the station! There were these big tiles with designs that you would want to transfer to your shirt. They’re really beautiful and a simple detail that makes your trip more memorable.
Gora to Sounzan (via Sounzan Cable Car)
The Sounzan Cable Car stood out for me because of its unique design and mechanism. I don’t know anything about trains but I know that it looks and works different than the others. Also, this is the ride where the landscapes are starting to change. We were slowly going uphill and the views were getting more and more beautiful.
Sounzan to Owakudani (via Hakone Ropeway)
The Hakone Ropeway has a couple of stations and Owakudani is where we decided to stop and explore. Just before reaching the station, your cable car will go over active sulphur vents and you’ll have a full 360 view of the volcanic valley.
When we got down the cable car, we first headed to the souvenir shop down the road where they sell black eggs. We tried the eggs right there and bought some souvenirs (keychains, magnets) as well. We walked around the area, took more pictures, before going back to the station to head to our next stop.
Owakudani to Togendai (via Hakone Ropeway)
This part of the ropeway is where you start to supposedly see Mt. Fuji. Sadly, it was super cloudy that day so even just a peek was not visible. But the area your cable car go through is so stunning that you wouldn’t even need to see Mt. Fuji to be satisfied. Ahead of us was Lake Ashi and below us was a wide forest with trees of different colors. I could imagine how beautiful it looks in autumn.
Togendai to Hakone-machi (via Hakone Sightseeing Cruise)
Upon leaving the ropeway station, there’s a clear path to Lake Ashi for the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. Boarding the ship was easy and it has so much space inside for you to enjoy. We went to the deck area so it was very windy and we had a full unobstructed view of the surrounding. The cruise took 30 minutes which throughout we felt like characters in a One Piece episode.
We had a late lunch at Hotoriya Restaurant right at the area where the cruise stops. They’re cutlet was amazing though the serving was not enough.
After eating we explored the area up to Hakone Shrine by feet. I’m not sure if it’s possible to take a bus, but walking exposed us to the beauty of the lakeside town. And we also spotted some groups of sakura blooms. The standout areas were the Ancient Cedar Avenue and Jinjya Heiwa-no-Torii. The Ancient Cedar Avenue is just a walking path with cedar trees in both sides. It’s very cinematic and the perfect place to film a dramatic pivotal scene of a romance movie. The Jinjya Heiwa-no-Torii on the other hand is an iconic landmark of Hakone. It’s the giant torii gate that faces Lake Ashi, very instagrammable!
Motohakone to Odawara (via Hakone Tozan Bus) + Odawara to Shinjuku (via Odakyu Railway)
After visiting Hakone Shrine we walked back going to Motohakone, looked for the bus stop, and waited for the bus. What I love about this route is how easy it is to get back to Odawara. Perfect if you’re tired from walking throughout the day, just hop on a bus and take a nap.
The Train back to Shinjuku was just the same as the first one we took. We were not in a rush so again, we decided not to purchase the Romancecar tickets. We haven’t had dinner yet, but time flies so quick, we were at a sushi place in Shinjuku in no time.
Hakone Freepass is JPY 5,140.00 per person, if you’re coming from Tokyo. It’s good for 2 Days of unlimited access to multiple transportation with in the city. The Odakyu Railway train is limited to only one round trip ride. So you cannot use the pass anymore once you go back to Tokyo.
We only used the pass for a day, but I still think it was worth purchasing. It was convenient and a time-saver. The time spent on getting tickets was reduced by a lot, letting you explore and appreciate Hakone even more. So even though I adore Tokyo’s bustling lifestyle, this day trip was a great refresh for the senses.
This day trip was part of our Japan 9 Days Spring and Snow trip, click here to read that itinerary!