Thinking about a little getaway from Tokyo but don’t have the time for a full-on vacation? Take a day trip to Hakone by the Odakyu Limited Express “Romance car” – only about an hour and half away from Shinjuku Station! On the train ride there, you’ll see some stunning scenery and even get an amazing view of Mount Fuji. The ride doesn’t feel complete without stocking up on snacks and bento!
If you want to make it a weekend adventure or end up wanting to stay longer, try out the Hakone Freepass which allows you to get on and off freely throughout Hakone and even provides discount admission to some of the famous spots in the area! With this pass, you can freely explore and enjoy the most out of Hakone. Valid for 2-3 days.
There are many sites that make Hakone a must-see area for foreigners and Japanese natives. After taking the cable car up, we visited the Owakudani Volcano – popular for it’s scenic views, epic volcanic activity, and of course, hot springs!
But what visitors seemed to be most interested in was the Owakudani black egg, a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot spring. This turns the egg’s shell black and it is said that if you eat one, your life span extends 7 years. I ate so many black eggs that I think I might be immortal now.
A few stops before the volcano is Hakone’s Open-Air Sculpture Museum, where you can see dynamic masterpieces out in the wild! It was such a unique experience to see such modern, colorful, and amazingly crafted artwork in nature.
Going back down by cable car leads to Lake Ashi, where we saw a few cruise ships and decided to hop on. The scenery was incredible and you can see temples, shrines, and old hotels scattered out in-between the mountains.
All that sailing works up an appetite so we decided to explore the town and find a bite to eat. The overall atmosphere of the local area was like being in a relaxed beach town in Japan’s olden days. We found a soba shop near the dock and it was deliciously home-made, it felt like being in a traditional home for dinner time.
We wandered the area and found the Hakone Shrine and enjoyed the slow atmosphere of the town. Many pay visits to this shrine because it is known to bring good luck, business, and marriage. Standing below this unique Torii was just amazing.
The shrine is hidden in a dense forest and was favored by samurai families. The shrine is also known as the “Kuzuryu” (Nine-headed dragon) shrine, the legend is that the diety calmed the raging dragon god of Lake Ashi.
As day turned to dusk, seeing the sun set through the trees on the ropeway ride back was like a dream.
Even just spending the day here, we were able experience so many historic sites and take in the natural wonders of Hakone. Wish we could have stayed longer but since its only a train ride away, we’ll definitely be back.