While in Tokyo I am usually dazed by the sky rises, neons, and manga the song “It’s a material world” I guess plays in the background. But once I step out of the city it’s quite the contrast- the neons change into green, the sky rises are forest clad hills. One such step out was to Hakone.
My 1st Cut Checklist said
- 1hr 45 mins to reach there by train- best to leave around 8 am in the morning
- Best way to travel around Hakone is the tourist transport system
- The weather forecast says July/august a good time to visit Hakone
How to reach Hakone
- Odayku Information centre- some of the big terminals has this one stop information centre for tourists. I went to Shinjuku Station towards the west Exit. Maps/ brochure /Tickets all available at this center.
- Free Pass- for a 1 /2 day trip it is very economical to take a Free pass from the Information centre it costs around 5000 yen (50 USD). The free pass would include the following trips
- Train travel to Odayku station (1 and half hour)
- Travel by train or bus from Odayku to Hakone Yumote(which takes around 15 mins)
- On reaching Hakone Yumote access to bus, train, ship, ropeway and cable car can be done with the same pass)
- The complete round trip can be done with the pass and free entry to some of the tourist spots (e.g. the Gora Park)
- Romance Car: Pay another 890 yen (9 USD) you can make the travel more pleasurable in the romance car which directly takes you from Tokyo (In our case Shinjuku) to Hakone Yumote.
Travel Mantra- enjoy the view while you are on the move.
- Hakone to Lake Ashi(MotoHakone) by bus(1/2 hr)- Reached Hakone Yumote on a toy train from Odayku.As we reached hakone the cool and windy climate change spoke voluminously of the green terrain. We exited the station to reach the bus stop just outside to platform 3 (H line or R line bus to Moto hakone.). The uphill road was picturesque reminded me of Ooty.
Near hakone pier
- Motohakone to Togendai Ko in sightseeing Cruise(40 mins)- Once you reach Motohakone take a walk to the nearby old age shrine and veer into the Cedar wood avenue. Check the Cruise timetable and board the Cruise ship either from Hakone Machi or Motohakone ko pier (preferebally the 1st pier)
Lake Ashi Cruise
View from the Lake Ashi Cruise-the glorious landscape
- Togendai Ko to Owakudani by ropeway- On reaching Togendai we directly took the ropeway to Owakudani. The view from the ropeway (do I need to say)
Ropeway Ride from Owakudani to Souzan
Ariel View of the Volcanic hell hole
- Stop over at Owakudani >>> (Owakudani to Souzan by ropeway)- Owakudani is more of a hell hole with sleeping volcano vents intermittently spurting out vicious sulphur gas. It was an experience to witness the view and pungency in the air. Another interesting thing this place has to offer are black eggs (boiled in hot sulphur springs), legend says that it is supposed to add 7 years more to your age (a must try). We head back to take the ropeway to our next stop Souzan.
Owakudani. (the black eggs)
- Souzan to Gora by cable car-the next ride was in a cable car to Gora, look out of the window and inhale purity.
- Stopover at Gora-Gora has quite a few interesting places to visit, the open air museum, beautiful Gora park (entry free with the free pass), do not miss the Hakone craft house among others.
Craft house @ Gora- wishful wishes to be scribbled away
- Gora to Hakone Yumote by train- the round trip comes to an end
- Hakone Yumote to (Odayku or Shinjuku) by Romance care or by Odayku express
Hakone can be enjoyed as a day trip or as a weekend getaway and the things to look out for are
- Onsens- these are hot spring for public bath, most of the hotels have one and there are standalones too
- Food stops- this place is dotted with restaurant including ramen shops, quaint cafes and fine dining. We enjoyed having a meal at Pic Café at Gora park (a must visit).
- Seasonal flowers: We went in end of july and it was hydrangea season. The greenery changes with the season (so all year round it dresses up in different colour)
- Pick up a odayku book coupon for getting some discounts (available at Odayku information centre
Route Map that was handy: http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/traffic/rout_map/