Getting There & Getting Around
Getting to and around Hakone is half the fun! An easy loop tour you can follow through Hakone includes various forms of unique transportation: Starting out by train from Tokyo, you switch to a small three-car tram that zigzags up the mountain, then change to a cable car, and then to a smaller ropeway, and end your trip with a boat ride across Lake Ashi, stopping to see major attractions along the way. From Lake Ashi (that is, from the villages of Togendai, Hakone-machi, or Moto-Hakone), you can then board a bus bound for Odawara Station (a 1-hr. ride), where you board the train back to Tokyo. These same buses also pass by all the recommendations listed below, which is useful if you wish to complete most of your sightseeing the first day before going to your hotel for the evening. A bus runs directly between Togendai and Shinjuku in about 2 hours (fare: ¥1,960).
Odakyu operates the most convenient network of trains, buses, trams, cable cars, and boats to and around Hakone. The most economical and by far easiest way to see Hakone is with Odakyu's Hakone Free Pass which, despite its name, isn't free but does give you a round-trip ticket on the express train from Shinjuku Station to Odawara or Hakone Yumoto and includes all modes of transportation in Hakone listed above and described below. The pass lets you avoid the hassle of buying individual tickets and gives nominal discounts on most Hakone attractions. A 2-day pass costs ¥5,000 and a 3-day pass is ¥5,500. Children pay ¥1,500 and ¥1,750, respectively.
The trip from Shinjuku to Odawara via Odakyu Express takes 90 minutes, with departures two to four times an hour. In Odawara, you then transfer to another train for a 15-minute trip to Hakone Yumoto; trains depart four times an hour. If time is of the essence or if you want to ensure a seat during peak season, reserve a seat on the faster and more luxurious Odakyu Romance Car, which travels from Shinjuku all the way to Hakone Yumoto in 1 1/2 hours and costs an extra ¥870 one-way with a Hakone Pass (you can still make a stopover in Odawara to see the castle, if you wish).
All these passes can be purchased at any station of the Odakyu Railway. In Tokyo, the best place to purchase Hakone Free Pass tickets is Shinjuku Station, at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center, located on the ground floor near the west exit of Odakyu Shinjuku Station (tel. 03/5321-7887; www.odakyu.jp/english; daily 8am-6pm), where you can obtain English-language sightseeing information in addition to purchasing tickets. If you wish, you can also buy 1- or 2-day do-it-yourself package tours that include round-trip transportation to Hakone, meals, sightseeing, and hotel stays.
Before leaving Tokyo, pick up the "Hakone and Kamakura" leaflet available from the Tourist Information Center; it provides transportation information for throughout the Hakone area. A color brochure called "Hakone National Park" includes sightseeing information and contains a map of the Hakone area.. The Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center, above, also has a wealth of information, including the useful Timetable of Traffic in Hakone, a booklet which lists the schedules for all forms of transportation in Hakone.
In Odawara, the Odawara Tourist Information Center (tel. 0465/33-1521; daily 9am-5pm) is inside Odawara Station. In Hakone Yumoto, the Yumoto Tourist Office (tel. 0460/85-8911; daily 9:30am-6pm Apr-Nov, to 5:30pm Dec-Mar) is across the street from Hakone Yumoto Station.
If you plan to return to Tokyo, I suggest you leave your luggage in storage at your Tokyo hotel or at Shinjuku Station and travel to Hakone with only an overnight bag. If you're traveling onward to, say, Kyoto, you can leave your bags at a check-in counter at Hakone Yumoto Station, open daily 8am to 10pm (a large bag costs ¥500 a day). Or if you deliver your bags to the Hakone Carry Service (tel. 0460/86-4140) at Hakone Yumoto Station between 8:30am and noon, it will transport your bags to your Hakone accommodations by 3pm. The next day, it can also pick up your bags at your hotel at 10am and deliver them to Yumoto Station by 1pm, where they will keep them until 7pm. The service costs ¥700 to ¥1,000 per bag, depending on the size and weight, and is available daily year-round.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.