When you hear Hakone, what do you think of?Onsen? Mt Fuji?
In this article I hope to introduce some parts of Hakone you might not know about.
Header photo : ©Odakyu Electric Railway/©JNTO
If you want to take a luxury trip, I recommend the Odakyu Romancecar. In my opinion, the best seats in the Romancecar are the observation cars in the front row.You can get to Hakone on the Odakyu Odawara Line. It takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes from Shinjuku station with no need to change trains. The entire train is reserved seating, so you can relax knowing that you will have a seat.
All of the seats in Romancecar recline all the way down to 15 degrees. It’s a feeling of relaxation that you can’t experience on the Shinkansen! These seats are very popular with Japanese travelers too, so make sure you book your tickets in advance.
Actually, within the Romancecars there are many different models of train. For example, one with big windows where you can enjoy a great view of scenery outside, or the one where the entire body is bright blue. Depending on the time of day there are different models running, so for train lovers it might be fun to check which one is running when planning your itinerary.
My favorite is the 50000 series Romancecar. The space for your feet is wide, and the windows are big so you can relax while gazing at the beautiful scenery outside. By the way, the train in the photo above is the observation cars of the 50000 series. As you can see, the window is huge!
So, if you ride the Romancecar, you will reach Hakone-Yumoto station in an hour and a half.
After arriving at Hakone-Yumoto, let’s change to Hakone-Tozan Railway and do some sightseeing.
If it’s still around lunch time, let’s head for an art gallery. There are actually many art galleries and museums in Hakone. My recommendation is the Hakone Open-Air Museum.
Although it’s an art gallery, it’s a little different from the standard type where you view artworks inside. Although there are exhibitions inside, around half are outdoors. You can touch the artworks directly and even go inside some of them.
If you come as a family, and have some energetic kids, I recommend the Yunessun theme park.
Or if you want to relax, you can check in at the hotel straight away. Many hotels and ryokan (Japanese style inns) in Hakone have private onsen in the rooms so you can enjoy your private mineral bath in luxury.
On the second day, let’s go to see Mt. Fuji. Lake Ashi (known as ashi-no-ko in Japanese) is well known as a place to see Mt. Fuji.
Mt. Fuji is the tallest and most famous mountain in Japan, but did you know that it looks completely different from the Shizuoka and Yamanashi sides respectively?
From the Shizuoka side, you can see the tip of another mountain jutting out of Mt. Fuji near the 7th station. Because of this, you can feel the brave, rugged Mt Fuji.
When you look at it from the Yamanashi side (from Lake Ashi), you can see a softer Mt. Fuji, made of smooth curves from the summit to the foot.
Another place which is almost as famous as the Mt. Fuji viewing spot is the finish line of the Hakone Ekiden Long-Distance Relay. In Japan, every year there is a huge race where university students run a round trip between Hakone and Tokyo, passing a sash between members. The finish line for this race is in Lake Ashi.
It is wonderful to view Mt. Fuji, but going to see the Ekiden, where so many Japanese people enthusiastically gather and cheer is a great experience too.
After taking your time in Lake Ashi, it’s time to go back to Tokyo on Romancecar. Don’t forget to visit a day onsen at Hakone-Yumoto on the way back!
So, how does this 2 day trip in Hakone sound? Although Hakone is most famous for its onsen, there are a plethora of other attractions in the area!
Shinjuku – Hakone Yumoto
*Odakyu Romance car is not valid for Hakone free pass holder.